Vanilla Ice Biography

(Rapper Known for His Debut Album 'To the Extreme')

Birthday: October 31, 1967 (Scorpio)

Born In: South Dallas, Dallas, Texas, United States

The American rapper Vanilla Ice is a one-hit wonder who rose to fame with his smash hit single ‘Ice Ice Baby’. Born as Robert Matthew Van Winkle, he was nicknamed Vanilla Ice as a teenager. The product of a broken home, he did not even know the identity of his biological father and often moved when his stepfather changed jobs. As a teenager, he performed poorly in school and dropped out without graduating. The one thing that set this teenager apart from other youngsters from troubled homes was his tremendous musical talent. He loved hip-hop and practiced break dancing, particularly the move known as ‘ice’, which led to his nickname. He gathered his own group of performers, ‘The Vanilla Ice Posse’ and used to perform on the streets and in clubs. Besides music, he had another passion—motor racing and had won three straight titles at the National Grand Championship. However, he decided not to pursue the sport professionally after suffering an injury and started working on his music career single-mindedly. He released his debut album ‘Hooked’, later reissued as ‘To the Extreme’, which featured the single ‘Ice Ice Baby’ which became his claim to fame. The album peaked at No.1 on the Billboard 200 and is credited to have popularized hip-hop among white audiences.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Robert Matthew Van Winkle

Age: 55 Years, 55 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Laura Giaritta (m. 1997)

children: Dusti Rain (born 1998), KeeLee Breeze (born 2000)

Born Country: United States

Rappers Hip Hop Singers

Height: 6'2" (188 cm), 6'2" Males

City: Dallas, Texas

U.S. State: Texas

More Facts

awards: 1991 - American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock New Artist
1991 - American Music Award for Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop New Artist
1991 - People's Choice Award for Best New Song
2011 - The Factual Entertainment Award for Best Home Show

Childhood & Early Life

Vanilla Ice was born to Camilla Beth Dickerson in Texas. The identity of his biological father is not known, and he was given the family name of his mother’s husband, William Van Winkle, at the time of his birth.

His mother divorced when he was four and married again, and the family moved to Miami.

He loved music, especially hip hop, and practiced break dancing as a young teen. He used to rap at parties and joined a breakdance group.

When his stepfather got a job in Texas, the family moved again. He attended R. L. Turner High School but dropped out before graduation.

He loved to ride motorbikes and participated in racing competitions.

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He formed a break dancing troupe ‘The Vanilla Ice Posse’ and performed on the streets, local malls, and clubs.

After an impromptu performance at City Lights, a South Dallas nightclub, he was asked to perform regularly for the club. He was accompanied by disk jockeys D-Shay and Earthquake in his performances.

He got the opportunity to open for several bands and musicians like Public Enemy, 2 Live Crew, Paula Abdul, etc. while performing for City Lights.

Tommy Quon, The owner of City Lights recognized Ice’s potential and signed a contract with him in 1987.

The songs that he had perfected through repeated stage performances were recorded in an album ‘Hooked’, and released by an independent record company in 1989.

The single ‘Ice Ice Baby’ featured on his debut album became a huge hit and he soon had a huge fan base. A music video was also created for the song which was aired frequently by the television channels.

The success of his debut album made him sign a contract with SBK Records. ‘Hooked’ was remixed, rerecorded, and re-issued under a new name, ‘To the Extreme’ in 1990. The album also contained new music.

He released a live album, ‘Extremely Live’ in 1991. It had songs from ‘Hooked’, as well as new material. It peaked at No.30 on the Billboard 200.

He spent the year 1992 touring and performing all over the world. He performed in several countries all over South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia.

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His next album, ‘Mind Blowin’ was out in 1994. By now his popularity had begun to wane; the album received negative reviews and did not do well.

The falling popularity troubled the singer and he became increasingly dependent on drugs like ecstasy, heroin, and cocaine. He even attempted suicide by drug overdose but was saved by his friends.

He decided to take a break from music and focused on his other passions, motocross and jet skiing. He even worked for some time in real estate.

He returned to music in 1998 with his new album, ‘Hard to Swallow’. The album’s music was a combination of heavy metal, hip hop, and punk rock. But the album could not revive his career as expected.

He released several albums in the new millennium, but none of them could recreate his past success. In spite of not getting mainstream popularity again, Vanilla Ice was however able to garner a faithful cult following. His latest studio album ‘W.T.F. (Wisdom, Tenacity and Focus)’ was released in August 2011. The album performed poorly on the commercial front and sold only 1000 copies.

He has also acted in many films such as ‘Cool as Ice,’ ‘Big Money Rustlas,’ ‘That's My Boy,’ and ‘The Wrong Missy.’ Most of these movies were panned by critics.

Major Works

Vanilla Ice was a one-hit wonder made famous by the single ‘Ice Ice Baby’ that first featured in his debut album ‘Hooked’. The song peaked at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, U.K. Singles Chart, Irish Singles Chart, and Australian ARIA Singles Chart.

Awards & Achievements

He won the American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock New Artist in 1991.

The single ‘Ice Ice Baby’ won the People’s Choice Award for Best New Song in 1991.

Personal Life & Legacy

He dated singer Madonna for a few months in the 1990s.

He met Laura Giaritta in 1995 and married her in 1997. The couple has two children. He reportedly split from his wife in 2011 after 14 years of marriage. The couple officially filed for divorce in 2016.


He was the first major white rapper.

He has had several brushes with the law. In 1991, he was brought in by the authorities for threatening a homeless man with a firearm. A decade later, in 2001, he was arrested for assaulting his wife Laura Giaritta. In 2008, he was again arrested for physically attacking his wife. However, the charges were later dropped. He was charged with burglary and grand theft in 2015 for stealing multiple items from a house that he believed to be vacant. He was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and pay for the restoration and repairs of the house.

‘Ice Ice Baby’ was the first hip hop single to top the U.S. Billboard Charts.

See the events in life of Vanilla Ice in Chronological Order

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