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Five Famous People Who Filed for Bankruptcy and Thrived After the Fact

On Behalf of | Feb 1, 2017 | Education |

If you are thinking of filing for bankruptcy, you might be worried about the steps you need to take to file or what your life might look like after bankruptcy. You can rest easy knowing that many people have recovered from bankruptcy, including a number of successful people. Here are five famous people who filed for bankruptcy and thrived after filing:

Abraham Lincoln – Although his face appears on the penny and the $5 bill, President Lincoln found himself penniless at one point in time. As a young man, Lincoln tried his hand at many occupations, including purchasing a general store in 1832 in New Salem, Illinois. Although he excelled in many other areas, Lincoln wasn’t much of a shopkeeper. He and his partner started buying out other stores’ inventories on credit; however, their own sales were abysmal. Lincoln sold his share as the debts increased, but when his partner died, he became liable for $1,000 in back payments, money he didn’t have. Since he didn’t have modern bankruptcy laws to protect him, he lost his two remaining assets – his horse and some surveying gear – when his creditors took him to court. He continued to pay off his debts until the 1840s.

Burt Reynolds – Although he was one of the biggest Hollywood stars in the 1970s, Burt Reynolds spent money as if his career would never hit a downswing. He purchased big-ticket items ranging from mansions on both coasts to a helicopter and an extravagant ranch in Florida. Unfortunately, his financial situation rapidly declined, and he endured a pricey divorce from ex-wife Loni Anderson. He declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but he got to keep his Florida estate. This stirred some controversy since people didn’t think that keeping a $2.5 million mansion while writing off $8 million in debt was fair. In light of this, the Senate passed measures that tightened loopholes in 2001, citing this very instance as an example.

H.J. Heinz – When Mr. Heinz was just 25 years old, he and two partners started their own company that made horseradish. Unfortunately, this endeavor wasn’t as lucrative as Heinz hoped it would be, and a business panic in 1875 forced him to file for bankruptcy. The following year, however, Heinz, his brother, and his cousin started a new company in Pittsburgh making ketchup. Business soared, and Heinz ketchup is now a household name.

Milton Hershey – While Milton Hershey was always talented at creating candy concoctions, initially, he wasn’t the best at running a successful business. He apprenticed in a candy shop for 4 years and started his own business in Philadelphia in 1876. Unfortunately, he was forced to close his shop, and he had to file for bankruptcy. Hershey returned home to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he pioneered the use of fresh milk in caramel production, founding the successful Lancaster Caramel Company. At the turn of the century, he sold the caramel company for $1 million and focused on perfecting a milk chocolate formula. Once he got the recipe right, he became known for his milk chocolate, and most people never learned of his prior bankruptcy filing.

Walt Disney – Although Disney is practically synonymous with success, he was once a struggling filmmaker with too many bills. He began his first film company, Laugh-O-Gram, with a partner in Kansas City in 1922. He bought a used camera and shot and produced short advertising films and cartoons. He also signed a deal with a company in New York to distribute the films he was producing; however, the distributor cheated Disney’s studio. Without the distributor’s money, Disney was unable to cover his overhead, causing his studio to go bankrupt in 1923. He left Kansas City and went to Hollywood, where he debuted a new character, Mickey Mouse, in 1928. The rest is history.

If you feel that it’s time to file for bankruptcy, you are not alone. Let the experts at Bankruptcy Advocates help! Call us for a free consultation. We can help determine if you need to file for bankruptcy and help you gain control of your life once again. Call us today at (618) 549-9800 to get started today!