this is "nightline." >> tonight, the sole king returns. steve madden, the man behind the billion-dollar brand -- >> that's a great frigging shoe. >> making a comeback after a stint in prison using his second chance to pay it forward. the real iron man? a british inventor mastering the physics of flight. soaring in his homemade jet-powered suit like a big-screen superhero. already breaking speed records. now producing them for private sale. is it worth the risk? and capturing vietnam. he jumped out of helicopters and ran into battlefields. now this veteran abc cameraman recalling the dangers of filming america's first televised war. but first the "nightline 5."
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business he loves using his second chance to help his former fellow inmates find their footing. here's abc's chief business technology and economics correspondent rebecca jarvis with another look. >> my fantasy is to make every shoe for every person in the world. rebooting. rock 'n' roll in sneakers, baby. >> reporter: you might not know his face. but if you're a shoe lover, you know his name. steve madden. >> that's a great frigging shoe. what are you wearing? don't wear those again. the shortest intern program ever. you better get a pair of shoes, honey. now you know. don't let it happen again. >> reporter: the shoe designer and businessman started his brand in 1990 with just $1,100. >> it looks cheap. we're going to get away with it. >> reporter: today he's the force behind a multi-billion
dollar brand. as a shoe guy, how many pairs of shoes do you own? >> me? >> personally. >> let me think. three? >> just three? >> i don't wear a lot of different shoes. >> reporter: his path to success took an unconventional turn, a 2 1/2 year prison stint. what was that like, life in prison? >> it was terrible. it was as bad as you can imagine. >> reporter: in 2002, steve madden was convicted of stock manipulation, money and securities fraud. what went through your mind, first thought? >> you know, it's -- it's sort of like you're numb. you're in shock. you know, you're kind of in shock. >> reporter: as his business began to boom in the early '90s, madden took his company public with his friend's brokerage house stratton oakmont. >> steve madden! steve, steve! >> reporter: the same firm that was the inspiration for "the wolf of wall street." >> it was a great movie. >> you liked the movie? >> loved it.
>> you weren't cringing? >> i was cringing. >> let's give it up for steve madden and -- >> reporter: the story of madden's ipo loosely depicted in the film. >> it was a way of raising money to kind of like push the dream i had. it was a lot more money than i could ever get from anywhere. i think it was like $6 million. which was like $6 billion. for me. >> reporter: for madden, who has been sober since 1989 -- >> this is our ship. >> reporter: money now filled the void once occupied by a life of partying, drugs, and alcohol. money was your thing? >> yes, for sure. >> you pursued it to the nth degree? >> yes, absolutely. >> how did you get in trouble? >> i got in trouble with these ipos. they gave me -- i was trading with them on these new stocks that went public. so that's how i got in trouble. >> so you got inside information? >> well -- it was kind of a gray area. but yes.
you could say it was securities fraud. >> reporter: when the feds caught on, he was sentenced to 41 months in prison and forced to resign as ceo. >> everybody makes mistakes. so the question is sometimes when you get caught, are you upset that you made the mistake? or are you upset that you got caught? that's the question. right? that is the question. like shakespeare, that is the question. >> how do you answer that question? >> well, on tv i have to say i represent that i made the mistake. >> in real life? >> i was upset that i took shortcuts. and -- i was, yes. >> reporter: he decided to turn prison to a positive. taking his second chance and paying it forward. people that you were in prison with ended up getting jobs at steve mad no one. >> yes, some guys. we have about four or five now. i've had guys come into stores when they got out, some last, some don't. but you try to help them get on their feet. >> reporter: samage nevilles
says he's back on his feet because of madden. >> we call him general because he can always get things done. >> reporter: neville was serving a six-year sentence for drug trafficking when they met. they worked together in the prison yard. >> never ever have i seen more of a down to earth white guy than steve madden. that's the first thing that went through my mind, this guy is down to earth. >> reporter: neville attended the standing room only classes madden taught in prison. >> most of the guys i was with, drug dealers. and i said, guys, it's just sales. you're selling something ille l illegal. take that entrepreneurial spirit and take a product that you don't have to go to jail for. >> reporter: whenner inville was released in 2004, madden helped him get a job in a store stock room. neville says madden has mentored him to a senior merchandising coordinator. >> mr. steve madden, come on in. >> how are you? good to see you. >> this is the man right here. i tell you. everybody has to know this, yeah. this is the guy.
>> my best guy right here. >> reporter: although he's not ceo, steve madden the company is still very much about steve madden the person. >> i try not to get crazy. i flipped out on somebody like it was like, oh god. >> reporter: his shoe impyre raked in $1.4 billion in sales last year amid a difficult retail climate. the company selling nearly 105 pairs of shoes every minute. >> that's the first shoe, i mad that in this building. >> reporter: his first shoe, the marilyn, proudly displayed at the office. the same shoe he once sold out of the back of a car. how does it feel looking at that shoe now, 25 years later? >> it's great. it's great. it was a great shoe. >> a great shoe? >> it was 27 years ago. >> reporter: madden made his life story inn a documentary, "madman: the steve madden story." from growing up in long island to his first industry job, becoming a doting father to his three kids. twins and a 4-year-old? >> yeah. >> what do you do with your kids? what's your life like when you
hang out with your kids? >> i'm a waiter. that's what i am. that's what i am, i'm a waiter. i walk around with a towel on my arm and a tray. that's what i do. >> reporter: and when he's not with his kids, he frequently visits stores, fixing things that don't look quite right. >> it looks cheap, it looks like a forever 21 shoe. >> reporter: at the office, he's still involved in every decision. >> what does everybody think of that shoe there? >> this is the future? >> yeah. >> reporter: in his local factory in queens, some designs are manufactured in small batches to test at local stores. how long before that makes it to a store? >> it could be in the stores for a weekend. >> this weekend? >> it could. where are we, wednesday? it's possible. >> do you have a favorite shoe of all-time? >> you know, i don't. i do -- there are certain things that i like, but i like what's curt. i like what's hot and what's current.
>> reporter: some of that inspiration comes from his love of music. he's even got his own record label. what makes a great shoe? >> a great shoe is like a great song. you're alone in your car, you drive, a song comes on the radio, you get that tingle in your spine? that's what a great shoe is like. >> you call it a hit? >> it's a hit. >> reporter: the hitmaker still looking forward to his next step. what's next for you personally? >> keep trying to grow and evolve as a person. sounds a little mushy. but you know, that's a good goal. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm rebecca jarvis in new york. up next, inventers assemble. meet the rocket scientist who turned himself into a real-life iron man. are you ready to fly like a superhero? after a dvt blood clot... i sure had a lot on my mind. my 30-year marriage... ...my 3-month old business... plus...what if this happened again? i was given warfarin in the hospital,
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now through january 10th. ikea. you know, flying can be painful these days. the long lines, the baggage fees, those flight attendant comedy routines. thanks to a british inventor, you can fly without any of those hassles as long as you don't mind riding a rocket. abc's james longman revisits this real-life iron man. >> reporter: from comic book heroes like superman and wonder woman to the alien e.t., flying, one of the most enduring dreams of mankind, has been immortalized in film. but for one british man, those dreams have become a reality. meet the real-life iron man.
uk inventor richard browning. this former royal marine is the inventor of the gravity suit. powered by six jet engines with over 1,000 horsepower, browning has taken the dream to fly to new heights. literally. he's broken the guinness world record for fastest flight in a jet suit. at speeds topping 32 miles per hour. one day you woke and up thought, this is boring, i want to make a jet pack? >> not exactly in that way. i suppose throughout my life, especially as a kid, i used to enjoy making things, taking things apart, working with my father in his workshop. i suppose i've always been technically minded. and at least my day job career. >> reporter: browning says inventing is in his blood. just like marvel's superhero tony stark, he's had his trials and failures. >> i love the clips of where he is learning. he's building. he's in his garage crashing
around, trying to learn the balance. 90% of things we tried didn't work. when they didn't work, often that meant i would fall over. only a few feet off the ground. but learning from failure has been the fuel that's driven our journey. >> reporter: browning impressed how the physics of flight seemed so true to life in the movie. in terms of the balance and control, it's hugely similar. you can see from our learning and testing clips that actually, as i say, full credit to marvel for coming up with and imagining what it would be like to have that thrust coming off the body. >> have you met him, robert downey jr.? >> no, no, we've had social media link us, and you know, in that way. but no. >> you should get him to come try on your suit. >> i hear that he kind of -- it's in his contract, he refuses to put on the marvel iron man suit because it's awfully uncomfortable. >> robert, if you're watching, this is really comfortable, you're going to want to try it
on. tell me the journey and development, how did you get here? >> our ground zero point was standing in a lane, one small desk turbine mounted on my arm, a mop bucket as a fuel tank, pretty rudimentary. we wound it up. >> reporter: before long he was experimenting with multiple engines and seeing results. >> we went from two engines to four, and i really am now starting to jump around like i'm on the moon. you can see that's now a huge amount of thrust. and it's still not quite enough to get me and the equipment off the ground but it's close. >> reporter: now the sky really is the limit. >> as high as a plane? >> as high as you like. i suppose after a while you're limited by the temperature the human body is comfortable at. >> you'll pass out but it will keep going? >> completely. >> don't go too high. >> no, we won't do that. it's really i suppose limited by can we transition to a point where a parachute would safely save you? that's a critical point we need to solve. >> should i be concerned there's a skull and cross bones? >> reporter: i got a chance to
fire it up. >> see if you can crush your arm into there. >> reporter: although taking off is too dangerous for anyone not properly trained. he says his suit even caught the attention of the military. >> the military are very excited, we've got military collaboration going on. search and rescue collaboration going on as well. and it has occurred to me that in this day and age, if you need to get rapid response, i think we can do this faster and more nimbly than a helicopter can. >> reporter: the goal, he says, make flying a reality for more people. >> that feeling when you did start to lift off and disengage from the ground and you weren't coming back unless you flared your arms out, that was phenomenal. >> reporter: one of these will cost you. >> we've had our first client pay a significant amount of money to come over, have their own custom flight suit built. the latest version now that we're running, and there's an example of it in the back here which runs a much better setup, that's $450,000. >> reporter: sky-high costs aside, for browning the possibilities are endless. >> i've become a huge believer
in the creativity that you see behind science fiction. because it's an example of unbounded human creativity, where you don't care whether you can really blgd build it, you just man general. it's fantastic. >> for "nightline" in london, i'm james longman. much of our view of neat volume was through his lens. this long-time abc cameraman telling his war stories.
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really? see zero in a whole new way. get zero down, zero deposit, zero first month's payment, and zero due at signing on select volkswagen models. now with the people first warranty. finally tonight, you're about to meet one of the bravest journalists of the vietnam war. now our friend, among abc's finest, finally gets to tell his story are. >> reporter: it was the first televised war. searing images from vietnam unfolding in american living rooms. >> this is the story of the vietnam war. >> reporter: dispatches from combat zones courtesy of talented photo journalists who
were risking their lives. one of the best now stepping out from behind the camera. is that the one that you would jump out of the helicopters with? >> yeah, beginning it. i have to shoot how the soldier is suffering. so close-up of rain, water, or close-up of shoes in the mud. soldier suffering. >> reporter: in his memoir "on the front lines of the television war," yetsutsene, or as we call him tony, describes the ten years he spent covering the war in vietnam. he was there when abc's roger peterson was shot in front of his very eyes. >> when he came out from bush, i saw his blood. he was shot, arm and finger. i always shoot. but my correspondent was so shocked. i throw camera and start to do something, but i just -- kind of was sobbing or crying. >> reporter: hiroshiki braved
the dangers alongside the best and brightest abc had to offer. sam donaldson, peter jennings, and this rookie -- >> ted koppel, abc, south vietnam -- >> he look like baby face. >> reporter: for three decades hiroshiki captured a first draft of american history. but his accent remains stubbornly japanese. he covered presidential politics to international summits. >> i remember being in moscow with sam donaldson, and sam insisted on working with tony, so did every other anchor there. >> what made tony a good cameraman? >> tony had life experience. he had the beautiful eye to see like a story. >> reporter: his humanity helping guide young talent on both sides of the camera. >> every producer had a story about why they had to work with tony. they'd change shoot days to match tony's schedule. there's a whole generation of journalists who are as good as they are in part because of
tony. >> reporter: hiroshiki retired a few years back. but this generation of anchors like bob woodruff and david muir will always remember him fondly. >> but investigators say -- >> do you remember any of those early standups? >> one of them i remember. just ten minutes before, no, already the show started. you came. "make sure i don't mistake." >> i came to you, the show's already on the air? >> yeah, yeah. >> nothing's changed. thank you for having patience for all of us. all these years. >> you are one of my correspondents too. >> ask i'm proud of that. proud of that, tony. >> our thanks to you, sensai. thanks for watching "nightline." as always we're online 24/7 at our "nightline" facebook page. good night, america.