Keeping It in the Family: Details Behind RHOBH Richards Sisters’ Drama

If you’re anything like us, then you’ve binged-watched a season or two (or five!) of Bravo’s Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. While many fans know Kyle Richards as the original housewife who always seems to find herself in the middle of a new drama with her sisters Kim Richards and Kathy Hilton, the details about their relationships are relatively unknown.

Kim Richards, Kathy Hilton, and Kyle Richards non the red carpet at an event in 2011

Photo by Jim Smeal / BEI / Shutterstock

Yes, they are reality stars and Hollywood socialites, but what happens when the cameras aren’t rolling? As time goes on, little tidbits about the sisters’ lives have surfaced. From driving to work at the age of 13 to catfights and rifts between families, these sisters make the Osborne family look like the Brady bunch.

So what exactly happened between Kathy, Kim, and Kyle?

They Got It from Their Mama

While not much is known about Kathy’s childhood, Kyle and Kim have spoken extensively about their rocky beginnings. So it’s safe to assume that Kathy had a similar upbringing, and we don’t blame her for keeping her personal life out of the headlines. But what we do know is that Kim, Kyle, and Kathy are three sisters, born to their mother, “Big Kathy.”

Kyle Richards, Kim Richards, Paris Hilton, Kathy Hilton

Kyle Richards, Kim Richards, Paris Hilton, Kathy Hilton. Launch of ‘The Kathy Hilton Collection’ fashion line, Los Angeles. Photo By Jim Smeal/BEI/Shutterstock

And when we learned a bit more about Big Kathy, we understand why Kyle and Kim are known on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills for being the center of a new drama storm season after season. Let’s just say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. The girls were used to dysfunction, dating all the way back to their childhood.

Who Was “Big Kathy”?

For starters, Big Kathy, whose real name is Kathleen Fenton, has been married at least four times (and according to some sources, may have married the same man twice). Ever since her daughters were little, Big Kathy wanted her daughters to adhere to her life philosophy: marry rich and have lots of babies. On top of that, she was very driven, and let’s just say a hard-headed stage mom.

Kyle and Kim Richards with their mother, Kathy Richards

Kathleen, Kyle, and Kim Richards. Source: Pinterest

Big Kathy wanted her daughters to be famous, and she was willing to do whatever it took to get them there. Kim’s acting career began when she appeared in a commercial for Firth Carpet when she was just a few months old. When Big Kathy realized her daughter’s money-making potential, she ran with the idea.

Putting Her Girls to Work

In no time, Kim was a money-making machine. When she was six years old, Kim was already starring in the 20th Century Fox sitcom, Nanny and the Professor. Although the show was canceled after only three seasons, Kim’s career took off. She went on to star in several movies, such as Escape to Witch Mountain (and the sequel) and No Deposit, No Return. Soon, Kim was known all around the world as the “Disney Girl.”

Ike Eisenmann and Kim Richards holding a black cat in the film Escape to Witch Mountain

Ike Eisenmann and Kim Richards in Escape to Witch Mountain. Photo by Disney / Kobal / Shutterstock

Big Kathy then realized that Kim wasn’t the only one with a knack for acting. She decided to send Kathy, her eldest daughter from her first marriage, to auditions. For 11 years, Kathy worked as a child actress, appearing in a number of popular shows such as Happy Days, Bewitched, and Family Affair.

A Family Affair

Kyle joined in on the family business a few years later and soon went on to star in several TV series and even went on to star in the original slasher film, Halloween, with actress Jamie Lee Curtis. On the outside, everything seemed to be perfect. Big Kathy’s three daughters were all super successful child stars. They had the look, they had the skills, and they were in demand.

Brian Andrews, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Kyle Richards standing together in the kitchen while Jamie Lee holds a carved pumpkin in the film Halloween

Source: MoviestillsDB.com / Copyright: Compass International Pictures

But while fans all around the world tuned in to watch what the Richards sisters’ next film, no one was aware of what went on off-camera. And while the sisters have only shared tidbits about what growing up with their mother was like, we can tell it was no walk in the park.

On to the Next

It all started when Big Kathy was married to her first husband, and father to her daughter of the same name, Laurence Avanzino. But soon, the marriage began to fall apart, mainly due to her infidelity. Big Kathy began having an affair with Ken Richards, who was also married at the time.

Ken Richards sitting in the driver’s seat while Kyle Richards stands outside of the car posing for a photograph

Ken and Kyle Richards. Source: Pinterest

When Big Kathy became pregnant with Kim, Ken got a divorce, and the two got married. According to biographer Jerry Oppenheimer’s House of Hilton, the relationship was far from smooth. Big Kathy reportedly got into a scuffle with Ken’s ex-wife and even made a dinner for his daughter Diane that was “accidentally” cooked with a metal screw.

Ken Takes Off

By the time Kyle was born five years later, the Richards family was living in Hollywood, with Big Kathy determined to make her daughters Hollywood stars. But according to Kim, they never really had a childhood because they were always working on some new film or TV series. But by the end of the seventies, the girls’ world was turned upside down.

Ken and Kyle Richards on her birthday when she was a young girl

Source: Instagram / @kylerichards18

Ken, who was known to have a wandering eye, packed up and left his family. In an interview with People Magazine, Kyle says that this was a tough time for everyone, but especially for her mother. Ken had been in charge of the finances, and Big Kathy had no idea about money, or how much they even had.

What Do We Do Now?

Kyle also says that her mother didn’t even have a checkbook when Ken left the family. So when the child actress was only ten years old, Big Kathy handed her a checkbook. “She opened a checking account for me,” Kyle told reporters. “She wanted me to take control and learn from a young age how to look after myself because she didn’t like finding herself in that position in the ’70s.”

Kim, Kyle, and Kathleen Richards sitting on a bed with a poodle when the girls were young

Source: Instagram / @kylerichards18

While the sisters are known to speak highly of their mother during this chapter of their childhood, Oppenheimer says that it wasn’t exactly an easy ride. While Big Kathy’s eldest daughter was off getting married to Richard Hilton, Kim and Kyle were dealing with their mother, who had turned to alcohol to numb her pain.

Polo Lounge Regular

According to Oppenheimer, Big Kathy was always sitting at the best restaurant bars in Hollywood, drinking liquid courage while searching for her next husband. Big Kathy was a regular at the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and many people remember her sitting at the piano singing My Funny Valentine or Danny Boy.

Kathy Hilton with Kim, Kyle, and other family members posing together

Source: Instagram / @kylerichards18

The author also went as far as to say that the stage mom would lie about being a Hilton heiress (using Kathy’s new marriage as an inspiration) who was looking for a long-term relationship, just to impress potential suitors. But while Oppenheimer spent a lot of time digging up dirt on the family, the Richards sisters, especially Kathy, wanted this information to stay private.

The House of Hiltons

When word got out that the famed biographer, who previously wrote about Anna Wintour, Barbara Walters, and Martha Stewart, was going to be focusing on the Richards and Hilton families, Kathy made sure to let all snitches know that they were going to pay the ultimate price for speaking.

Kathy Hilton with Richard, Nicky, and Paris, posing for the camera

Kathy and Richard Hilton with Nicky and Paris. Photo by Globe Photos / mediapunch / Shutterstock

“If anyone participates in the book, they will be banned from the family,” Kathy warned in an article printed in The New York Post. Based on what Oppenheimer found out about the family, we can understand why Kathy would want to keep her personal life out of the limelight. The stories that came out of some of his sources make the Osbourne family look like the Brady Brunch.

Leaving the Nest

According to Oppenheimer, Big Kathy allegedly fed one of her mothers-in-law dog food, had an incident involving stairs with her second husband Ken, and routinely brought her daughters with her on a night on the town. But as the girls grew older, they began to break free from their mother’s “protective” eye.

Kathy and Richard Hilton posing together

Source: Instagram / @nickyhilton

At 20 years old, Kathy went on to marry her high school boyfriend, Richard Hilton, heir to the Hilton Hotel fortune. Two years later, Kathy gave birth to Paris, and then Nicky, Barron, and finally, Conrad. While her daughters Paris and Nicky were well-known socialites who seemed to dominate the headlines for the better part of the 2000s, Kathy stayed out of the spotlight. But Kim and Kyle, well, that’s a different story.

Beginnings with Monty

When Kim was 19 years old, she began dating Monty Brinson, whose family owned a supermarket chain in the south. Monty had been living in South Carolina when he decided to move out to Hollywood to become a producer. Not before long, he was introduced to Kim by one of Kathy’s friends. The two went on a blind date at the Palms in Beverly Hills and immediately hit it off.

Monty and Kim Richards sitting together

Source: Instagram

But while the couple was together every day, not everything was butterflies and rainbows. After Monty and Kim moved in together, Monty found out that his girlfriend was secretly seeing other people. One of them, he says, was none other than John Davis, the son of billionaire entertainment and oil mogul Marvin Davis.

Looking out for Her Daughters

“Kim would say she had to go babysit Paris and Nicky and, really, she was being fixed up with John, and I found out about it,” Monty told Oppenheimer. But Monty doesn’t believe that the affairs were all Kim’s idea. “She was being influenced to do it. She was being pressured because of the billions of Davis dollars.”

Kim with Brooke Brinson as a baby

Kim with Brooke Brinson. Photo by Globe Photos / mediapunch / Shutterstock s

He believed that Big Kathy was the main person putting pressure on Kim to find someone with money. But Monty believes that Kim’s mother didn’t always come from a bad place. He went on to explain that Big Kathy “was looking for the best for her daughter, and those guys [the Davis family] had mega-money.” But when Kim found out that she was pregnant with her first daughter in 1985, everything changed.

Relationship After Relationship

Kim and Monty got married in a shot-gun wedding right after she found out she was pregnant. Then in 1986, Kim gave birth to Brooke. Their marriage was short-lived; after three years of marriage, Kim and Monty filed for divorce. But then that same year, Kim married John Davis’ brother Gregg (the brother of the guy Monty accused her of having an affair with).

Kim Richards with her two daughters and son

Source: Pinterest

Kim and Gregg had two children together, Whitney and Chad, but like her first marriage, Kim’s second marriage didn’t last that long. After three years, Gregg and Kim got a divorce. And like clockwork, Kim found herself in another relationship, but this one ended much more tragically than her other two.

Love at First Sight

In the same year that Kim and Gregg got a divorce, she met commodities salesman, John Collette (we’re starting to see a pattern here). According to Kim, she was leaving an AA meeting when John pulled up in a convertible. “He drove a Porsche convertible, and he said, ‘Wait a minute, are you Kim Richards?’ She said yes and he responded, ‘I’ve been in love with you since I was ten years old,'” Kim told reporters from Radar Online.

John Collett and Kim Richards posing together

Source: Instagram

It was love at first sight. They began going to AA meetings together, and soon John was spending time with Kim’s three children. “She loved him, and he loved her, and it was like a fairy tale,” John’s sister, Nina Stormo, told People Magazine. “They seemed really happy.”

Love Story Cut Short

Unfortunately, this fairytale love story was cut short. One day, John was talking with Kim on the phone in front of a deli in the San Fernando Valley when he suddenly told Kim, “Tell me you love me.” Then there were two loud “bangs” and then silence. A hitman had been hired to kill John, who was one of six people being sued for scheming 8,000 elderly investors out of nearly $150 million.

Kim Richards, John Collett, and her three children

Source: Instagram

Not only did Kim hear everything, but she was also the one called to give a positive identity. “It just tore her apart emotionally, and she was not in good shape for a long time,” John’s mother Jan Collett told People Magazine. “She really loved John. They were a good match.”

A Source of Pain

Police eventually arrested Marva DeCarlo Johnson, who was sentenced to 30-years-to-life in 1993. But while the prosecution showed that this was a paid hit, they didn’t show evidence pointing to who paid for it or why. But regardless of who bankrolled the hit and why Kim was devastated and carried around a lot of pain with her over the years.

John Collett and Kim Richards with her daughter in a pumpkin field

Source: Instagram

Remarkably, Kim’s next long-term relationship was, in a strange way, connected to John’s passing. Aircraft parts supplier, John Jackson, contacted Jan because he was interested in buying her late son’s Harley-Davidson motorcycle. That’s when Jan suggested that he speak with Kim because it was her favorite bike, and Jan wasn’t sure if Kim was ready to give it away.

First Love Is the Deepest

The aircraft supplier dialed Kim’s number, and one thing led to another. The two ended up hitting it off and officially started dating in the spring of 1992, just a few months after her late fiancé’s untimely death. While the pair never married, he did father Kim’s fourth child (and third daughter), Kimberly, in 1995.

Kim Richards, Kim Johnson, and John Johnson posing together

Kim Richards, Kim Johnson, and John Johnson. Source: Instagram

The couple eventually separated, and Kim stayed relatively single for some time. However, like all fans of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills know, Kim never truly got over her first relationship with Monty. The two remained best friends after their 1988 divorce, with Kim taking care of Monty up until he lost his battle with cancer in 2016.

Who Was Kyle’s First Husband?

While Kim definitely had the rockiest relationship history out of the three sisters, it’s safe to say that Kyle had a bit more luck. While the youngest Richards sister is happily married to Mauricio Umansky, this is not her first marriage. In 1988, Kyle married Guraish Aldjufrie after finding out that she was pregnant with her first daughter Farrah.

Guraish Aldjufrie and Kyle Richards holding Farrah as a baby

Guraish Aldjufrie and Kyle Richards. Source: Instagram

Although the couple separated in 1992, Farrah says that her dad has remained a large part of her life. “He’s very, very close with my mom and Mauricio, like they’re great, great, great friends. I always say I have two dads; they both raised me,” Kyle’s daughter told reporters from the Daily Dish.

One Big, Happy Family

Since Guraish prefers to stay out of the spotlight, fans of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills aren’t that familiar with him. However, according to Farrah, he is very much involved with the family, just not on-screen. Like Mauricio, Guraish also works in real estate and even refers clients to Kyle’s second husband. Guraish even spends Thanksgiving and Christmas with Kyle, Mauricio, and Farrah’s three younger sisters.

Guraish and Farrah / Kyle Richards and Mauricio Umansky

Source: Instagram / Photo by Picture Perfect, Shutterstock

While Kyle’s first husband currently lives in Bali (working with commercial real estate and land development), he still finds time to visit his only child. “He comes, and he stays for like a month or two at a time two or three times a year. We just have a lunch or dinner three times or four times a week and hang out as much as we can while he’s here,” Farrah says.

How Did Kyle Meet Mauricio?

It’s nice to hear that Kyle’s first husband has such a nice relationship with her and her family. But just how did Kyle and Mauricio meet exactly? Well, it wouldn’t be a real Richards sister story without a bit of drama. During a 2014 episode of Watch What Happens Live, Kyle shared that he was actually engaged to news anchor Michael Tuck when she first met Mauricio.

Mauricio Umansky and Kyle Richards hugging on the red carpet

Photo by Picture Perfect / Shutterstock

Kyle reportedly turned her ring around when she noticed her now-husband. Although the details surrounding their first meeting are a bit hazy, it is known that Kyle broke off her engagement with Michael because she fell hard and fast for Mauricio.

A Whirlwind Relationship

Soon after Kyle broke off her engagement, her whirlwind romance with Mauricio began. Not much is known about Mauricio’s background, but we do know that the Real Housewives hunk was born and raised in Mexico by his mother, Estella Sneider. Estella is a famous TV and radio personality in Mexico and is best known in the States from her appearances on the Bravo reality show.

Kyle Richards and Mauricio Umansky smiling together on the red carpet

Source: Shutterstock

The couple married in 1996 when Kyle was four months pregnant with her second daughter, Alexia. While the couple has been happily married for 24 years now and share three daughters (Alexia, Sophia, and Portia), it doesn’t mean that everything is all fine and dandy between Mauricio and his in-laws.

Mauricio vs. Richard

For years, fans have known that there is a rift between Kathy and Kyle, but no one ever knew the exact reason. While fans have speculated that it had something to do with their bumpy childhood, Kyle has never gone on the record to talk about the details of their relationship. But when Mauricio didn’t show up to Nicky’s wedding, details began to surface.

Cy Waits, Paris Hilton, Kyle Richards, Taylor Armstrong, Nicky Hilton, and Mauricio Umansky posing together at a US Weekly event in 2010

Cy Waits, Paris Hilton, Kyle Richards, Taylor Armstrong, Nicky Hilton, and Mauricio Umansky. Photo by Sara Jaye / Shutterstock

According to reports and Kyle’s fellow castmate Brandi Glanville, Mauricio used to work for Kathy’s husband, Richard Hilton. But when Richard refused to make him partner, Kyle’s husband quit. It wasn’t an amicable parting. Apparently, Mauricio took some of Richard’s staff and clients, which caused a huge rift between the families, with each sister defending her husband.

Was Mauricio Unfaithful?

Like many stars in the spotlight, Kyle and Mauricio’s relationship has been riddled with infidelity rumors spread by the media. However, fans can rest easy because the couple remains adamant that these rumors are, well, rumors. In 2013, the rumors got even worse when Star magazine reported that they had a source who saw Mauricio exchanging numbers with another woman.

Mauricio Umansky and Kyle Richards posing together

Source: Shutterstock

But Kyle slammed the rumors as soon as the headlines hit. According to Kyle, she was not only with Mauricio the night in question, but she asked him to get that girl’s number. Kyle wanted to get a dress from a designer, and Mauricio was just helping her out. The reality star then added, “Don’t promote their sick lies, please. They will have their karma in time.”

Best Friends Forever

In an interview with People magazine, the couple was asked why they think their relationship has remained strong over the years, especially in a city and industry riddled with divorce. Their answer? They’re best friends who spend a lot of time together. “We’re best friends. We actually enjoy each other,” Mauricio said. “She’s funny, she makes me laugh. I don’t have big guys nights out; Kyle is the person I want to spend most of my time with.”

Mauricio Umansky and Kyle Richards dancing together at a party

Photo by Sara Jaye / Shutterstock

And it’s not just spending a lot of time together that keeps their relationship fresh and exciting. In an interview with Andy Cohen, Kyle said that her husband is an old school romantic and even once told her, “He’s like ‘You weren’t born until I met you and that’s just the way it goes.’” We’re melting!

Kathy Against Her Sisters

But while Kyle’s love life seems to be on the right track, her relationship with her sisters is a different story. When Real Housewives of Beverly Hills first aired back in 2010, Kathy had no interest in joining her sisters on screen. If anything, Kathy was disgusted by the whole thing.

Kathy Hilton, Kim Richards, and Kyle Richards posing together

Photo by Peter Brooker / Shutterstock

“In the beginning, I thought this could be a great opportunity. This could be a platform to do a lot of nice things, to have a voice, to give back, and also for business,” Kathy told PR.com. But when Kathy saw the first season, she says that her entire outlook on the show changed. “It was just heartbreaking that my family could fall apart like that, so I didn’t watch the second season at all.”

American Woman

While Kathy has made a few appearances on the show over the years and was even rumored to replace Lisa Vanderpump, she says that she is not planning on becoming a show regular. “I have a great relationship with [Bravo]; I just don’t have a great relationship with the women,” Kathy told US Weekly. “After 17 episodes of them bashing me, I think I’ve had enough of all of them.”

Kris Jenner, Kathy Hilton, Kyle Richards, and Faye Resnick posing on the red carpet together

Kris Jenner, Kathy Hilton, Kyle Richards, and Faye Resnick. Photo by MediaPunch / Shutterstock

But Real Housewives of Beverly Hills wasn’t the only show to cause a fight between Kathy and her sisters. In 2018, Kyle produced a new show, American Woman, which was loosely based on her childhood and mother, Big Kathy. However, Kathy thought that the show was going to reveal too much about their childhood. Kathy was so mad that she stopped speaking with Kyle.

Too Personal for Kathy

Kathy, who is notoriously private, did not want Kyle spilling family secrets. However, Kyle was adamant that although Big Kathy inspired the show, it wasn’t based on her actual life growing up. “I would never tell anyone else’s stories,” Kyle explained to People magazine. “And I felt bad because she [Kathy] thought it was something that it wasn’t. I was inspired by my mom being a single mom in the ’70s. It was a crazy, fun, reckless time.”

Kathy and Kyle Richards on the red carpet in 2016

Photo by Mediapunch / Shutterstock

Even Kim was supportive and “excited” about Kyle’s new show and saw it as a tribute to their mother, who passed away in 2002 from breast cancer. The article stated, “I love my sisters and I would never do anything to disrespect or embarrass them. I’m looking forward to the show coming out so Kathy can see it and realize.”

The Trio Is Back

While American Woman received mixed reviews from critics and was officially canceled after its first season, Kyle is happy that she went through with the project. Kathy has since come to her senses, and the trio has officially made up. All three were even seen at Kim’s birthday after the show premiered, and Kathy even revealed that “We’ve been on the phone several times a day every day.” Oh, look how far they’ve come!

Kim Richards, Kathy Hilton, and Kyle Richards posing in front of a wall of white roses

Photo by Broadimage / Shutterstock

Even Mauricio commented on the family feud in an interview with Inman, after being asked about his own rift with brother-in-law Richard Hilton. “We were definitely in a fight for a while. And it was real. But the families have made up, and it was fantastic,” he said. “We’ve been good for solidly over a year.”

Thankful for Big Kathy

It makes us so happy to see that the sisters made up! Let’s just hope that the drama and fighting are behind the trio. They seem to be coming to terms with their upbringing and rocky past, with Kyle telling the press that she is thankful for her mother.

Kathleen Richards and Kim Richards posing together when Kim was younger

Kathleen Richards and Kim Richards. Source: Instagram / Kim Richards

“The way that she raised us was very unconventional. Our house was open, and our conversations were open,” Kyle told People magazine in 2018. “Everything I have now is because of what my mom did for me. She was our biggest cheerleader. And she made me feel like I was the greatest thing in the world.” You see, the Richards-Hilton families, they’re just like us. All families have issues, even the ones on reality television.