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Category Archives: Historical Figures

Famous Bankruptcy Filers

Very often my new clients tell me, or otherwise let me know, that they are ashamed that they are even thinking of filing bankruptcy. Amazingly, many of those clients have those feelings reinforced by comments from their creditors and collectors — even though many of those creditors have themselves sought bailout funds from the Federal Government or have filed their own bankruptcy cases! I usually tell them that the very purpose of the bankruptcy code is to encourage individuals and businesses to take risks in order to (looking at the big picture) grow the economy. I then usually explain that everyone in this country plays by the same rules and that the bankruptcy code is part of those rules. I then usually point out that virtually all of their creditors have taken into consideration the potential of bankruptcy when they approved their credit and when they determined their interest rates — the very interest rates that are often pushing them to the verge of a bankruptcy filing. All too often this does not help to ease their feelings that they are somehow being immoral by taking advantage of a set of federal laws that large businesses use all the time. What does seem to help to ease their discomfort is when I start to tell them about the many historical figures and currently famous people who have filed for bankruptcy and not only survived, but faced no long term community shame (and in most cases more than recovered financially). So, for my faithful readers I am including here a partial list of famous people who have filed for bankruptcy. Some of these may surprise you.

Abraham Lincoln (when he was a poor country lawyer, before he even started in politics)
John Barrymore (and he continued to perform as one of America’s greatest actors)
Lenny Bruce
Toni Braxton
Buffalo Bill
Samuel L. Clemens (yes, Mark Twain)
Francis Ford Coppola (and while we are on the subject of famous filmakers)
Dino de Laurentis
Walt Disney (before he ever put three circles together to draw Mickey Mouse)
Henry Ford
Redd Foxx
Ulysses S. Grant (the 18th President and face of the $50 bill)
Richard Harris
H.J. Heinz (no, he did not file Ch. 57)
Milton Hershey (of Hershey Chocolate fame)
Charles Goodyear (the tire man)
Larry King
Cyndi Lauper
Jerry Lewis (not to be confused with…)
Jerry Lee Lewis
Joe Lewis
George McGovern (the Senator from South Dakota and also ran in the 1972 presidential race)
William McKinley (25th President)
Willie Nelson
Thomas Paine (author of Common Sense and founding father of the United States)
Randy Quaid
Burt Reynolds
Donald Trump (not only no shame, but recovered well enough to fire people every week on TV)
Johnny Unitas

This list is by no means a complete list. In fact, while bankruptcy filings are public record, unless you have a business relationship with someone and specifically if someone personally owes you money, the only way you would know that person ever filed for bankruptcy is if that person told you or if you were to go specifically searching for that person in the bankruptcy dockets.

If you are facing financial pressure from creditors, don’t let a bill collector or anyone else convince you that seeking help is immoral, wrong or shameful. Call the Law Offices of James Wingfield at 508-797-0200 or visit us on the Web at www.wingfieldlaw.com. We have the experience and we can help.

The Law Offices of James Wingfield is proud to be a debt relief agency. We help the individuals, families and small businesses of the Worcester area file for bankruptcy relief under the United States Bankruptcy Code. The Law Offices of James Wingfield serves Central and Western Massachusetts clients in Worcester County, Hampden County, Hampshire County and Middlesex County including Worcester, Shrewsbury, Springfield, Westborough, Southborough, Framingham, Northampton, Natick, Amherst, Fitchburg, Leomister, Douglas, Uxbridge, Gardner, Belchertown, Holyoke, Wilbraham and Chicopee. The information contained and obtained in this website does not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Contacting us, be it through this website, via email of by telephone does not create an attorney-client relationship. An attorney-client relationship is only created upon execution of an engagement agreement or fee agreement.