Oct. 31: Happy birthday to Vanilla Ice, home flipper

Today is Robert Van Winkle’s 46th birthday. Not familiar with Mr. Van Winkle? Actually, you probably are.

When Robert Van Winkle took the name Vanilla Ice as a young rapper in the 1990s and unleashed the single “Ice Ice Baby” on the world, it flipped mainstream perceptions about hip-hop music on their heads.

Now, as a grown man and father of two, he’s trying to do the same for real estate -- hopefully with more hits this time around.

Vanilla Ice is now a home flipper, but really, he’s been one since his early 20s when, as a newly famous millionaire, he bought homes around the country, intending to live in them. Finding it impossible to use them all, he instead sold the homes at a profit. He became hooked on what he felt was a simple and intuitive process.

“When I sold the homes, I made money on every single one of them -- hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said in a 2010 interview with “DIY Life.” “I thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. It can’t be this easy.’”

Eventually, just investing in homes wasn’t satisfying enough. About 15 years ago, Mr. Ice exchanged his dance crew for a decorating and remodeling crew and set to work turning houses into homes. He started with his own Miami residence and became the first person to ever install a home Imax theater, adding lights in the ceiling that made it look like a twinkling sky.

A chance conversation with producer Matt Levine, with whom Vanilla Ice had previously worked on a Biography Channel program, sparked a crazy idea: What if Vanilla Ice went on TV and taught people how to earn money flipping houses -- minus the parachute pants?

From there, “The Vanilla Ice Project” started its first of three seasons in October of 2010 on the DIY Network. The show ran until April of this year, and each half-hour episode featured one-room renovation techniques intended to maximize home values. He even released his own “Get Rich Flipping Houses” training course along with the program.

Ilyce Glink is an award-winning, nationally syndicated real estate columnist, blogger and radio talk show host, and managing editor of the Equifax Finance Blog. Follow her on Twitter @Glink.

On This Day, previously:

Oct. 30: Real estate heiress Ivanka Trump was born on this day in 1981

Oct. 28: Bill Gates' 66,000-square-foot Washington home

Oct. 17: A two-story houseboat with water slides (plus mansion), owned by Alan Jackson

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