The common conception of bankruptcy is that once someone files, their whole life is pretty much over and they will never amount to anything. Fortunately for the millions of people who file for bankruptcy, that’s simply not the case. There are a number of celebrities or innovators that filed for bankruptcy before making it big. Here are a few of the legends.
1. Walt Disney
It’s hard to think of something with the Disney name as anything less than successful. However, early in Disney’s career, he was nothing more than a struggling filmmaker who was failing to keep himself above water. His nadir came in 1923 when his studio went bankrupt. For anyone else, this might have seemed like a major defeat you can’t recover from. Nevertheless, just five years later, he introduced a funny black-and-white character named Mickey Mouse and the rest is history.
2. Abraham Lincoln
Today, it’s almost inconceivable to think of a president having something like a bankruptcy on his record, but Honest Abe was able to overcome a bankruptcy to become the leader of the free world. In 1833, he filed for bankruptcy because he was in too much debt and owed a lot of money to his friends when he tried to start a business. It took him 17 years to pay off those debts, but just 10 years after he did, he was elected president.
3. Milton Snavely Hershey
Just the mere mention of Hershey probably invokes images of swirling milk chocolate and irresistible bars of tastiness, but when he was young, his name probably invoked the images of failure. Hershey apparently started four companies that all went under causing him to file for bankruptcy. He didn’t have much education, but he had persistence. In his last attempt at making a company, his persistence paid off and his bankruptcy faded away.
4. H.J. Heinz
Now synonymous with ketchup, Heinz once went on a crazy venture to make horseradish in the mid-1800s. Predictably, the company went belly up and he had to file for bankruptcy. It was that bankruptcy that encouraged him to change his plans, which led him to his successful journey into the world of ketchup.
5. Henry Ford
Ford and bankruptcy seem like good bedfellows right now, but there was a time when Ford was king. Before Ford became king, however, his first company that only put out a few cars went bankrupt. He managed to start another company the same year he filed for bankruptcy, but this time his company exploded and pioneered the car industry.
Timothy Martinez Jr. is a freelance writer and blogs about a number of topics, including for bankruptcy for a local Tucson bankruptcy attorney.