Whether you’re a reality junkie or a farmer who lives in the back of beyond, you know who the Kardashians are. But if you haven’t kept up with them on their TV show, you may come to question – why are the Kardashians famous and how did they rise to fame in the first place?
It seems like the Kardashians have always been famous, but we want to take it back to a time when no one knew who the family were.
The Armenian-American clan that we have grown to love today were just a regular family (wealthier than most) thanks to their lawyer dad Robert Kardashian, with a teenage Kim dreaming of one-day becoming famous. Luckily, for her, all her dreams came true.
So, how did the Kardashians get famous? Let’s take a look at how the Kardashian-Jenner family became a household name…
1. Robert Kardashian Becomes a Famous Lawyer
In the 90s, Robert Kardashian (Kim, Kourtney and Khloe’s father) was widely known for being a high-profile attorney and close friends to American footballer O.J. Simpson. He was considerably wealthy and managed to earn enough to give his family a good life and a helping hand to their rise to stardom.
2. The O.J. Trial Shines Light on the Family
People really began to identify the Kardashian name when Robert found himself on the defense team for O.J., who was accused of murdering his wife Nicole. Robert’s positioning in this trial caused conflict among the family, as his wife, Kris Jenner, was very close to Nicole and had strong belief that O.J. was guilty.
That said, the family pushed their differences aside and managed to have a healthy and happy relationship, until Robert passed with esophageal cancer in 2003.
3. Kris’ Marries Bruce Jenner
Shortly after Kris and Robert’s divorce, the famous momager remarried former Olympian star, Bruce (now known as Caitlyn) Jenner, in 1991, who also had four kids of his own. This matrimony aided in the family’s rise to stardom, as Bruce had his own wealth and status to his name. To extend their family further, Bruce and Kris had two beautiful children of their own, Kendall and Kylie.
4. Kim Parties With Paris Hilton
Kim Kardashian started to become famous through her association with Paris Hilton. In 2003, we saw a short glimpse of her as she appeared on The Simple Life as Paris Hilton’s assistant, notorious for her closet organization skills.
During this period, Kim was papped partying alongside Paris, and became known as her ‘pretty brunette friend’. She then started organizing and styling other popular celebrities, until a turn of events happened and she became one herself!
5. Kim’s Tape Leaks to the Public
What are the Kardashians famous for? Some may argue that Kim’s adult tape is what helped the family *really and truly* rise to stardom. It seems her family have a lot to thank her for (awkward, we know)!
Kim’s renowned tape with her ex-boyfriend Ray-J might indeed be what really placed her on the celebrity map. This scandalous video, leaked in 2007, turned into a pop-culture phenomenon and landed Kim a whopping $5 million in the settlement. Not bad for a failed relationship and leaked tape!
6. The DASH Store Opens
With a passion for fashion, Kim, Kourtney and Khloe opened their clothing store, DASH, in 2006, which helped increase their social status. As they rose to fame, their store became even more popular and was even the center of a spin-off show on E! (Dash Dolls), where young girls shared their customer service skills on-screen, competing to impress the Kardashian ladies.
7. ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ Airs
If you want to know how the Kardashian family got famous, well, turn on E! and you’ll find out – you’re bound to catch a rerun of Keeping Up With the Kardashians!
In 2007, after Kris Jenner had pitched the idea of filming a reality TV show to Ryan Seacrest, the first episode of KUWTK aired on E!. Rumor has it, the show was launched to spin the narrative in Kim’s favor, following the release of her scandalous video.
Some people assumed that the D-list reality show would run its course, but season after season, we became addicted to seeing the ups and downs of the Kardashian lifestyle.
20 seasons later, and this ‘krazy’ family became worldwide superstars.
8. Kim Makes Famous Appearances
Despite critics claiming the family were just ‘famous for being famous‘, the reality TV show still opened many pathways for the Kardashian kids – and Kris never turned down an opportunity. So when Kim was offered a spot on Dancing With the Stars (even though she is widely known for her bad dance moves), she definitely took it, helping her become even more popular in the celebrity world.
Soon enough, Kim gained further attention in the modelling and adult magazine world, too, when she done an iconic photoshoot for Playboy magazine – the first of Kim’s many controversial moments.
9. Kim Has a 72-Day Marriage
Why are the Kardashians famous, you may ask? Their highly-publicized relationships have certainly kept their high status alive.
Kim’s 72-day marriage to NBA player Kris Humphries was indeed another major contributor to the Kardashians’ rise to fame. Her largely televised wedding was a two-part special that raked in millions, with an unorthodox ending.
Many critics claimed that this was purely another shot at fame – but the Kardashian sisters were quick to shut down the rumors, saying that Kim would have picked someone much more ‘famous’ if it was a way to make the front page – ouch!
10. Kim Marries Kanye West
Following her divorce, Kim soon fell in love with rapper and era-defining musician Kanye West, who had been pursuing her for a while. Their romantic (and publicized) engagement, pregnancy announcements and fabulous wedding placed the newfound ‘power couple‘ on a whole different status level and completely changed the way that Kim was perceived.
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10. Kimye Cover Vogue Magazine
An example of such ‘respect’ was when Kim and Kanye were invited to do a joint photoshoot for the cover of American Vogue magazine. This honor marked Kim’s cultural acceptance as more than just a reality star.
From this moment forward, the Kardashians were welcomed into the fashion world and Kim was invited to sit on the FROW of various global fashion events.
11. Caitlyn Jenner Transitions
The (then) husband of Kris Jenner and father to Kendall and Kylie, who we’d watched for years on KUWTK, surprisingly made a gender transition, changing everything we knew about the Kardashian-Jenner family forever.
Caitlyn (formally ‘Bruce’) Jenner came out to the world – including her ex-wife and children – about her gender transition at 65 years-old. Officially coming out as a trans woman in 2015, the Olympian took her family by complete surprise and sent shockwaves through the celebrity world with her unexpected revelation, putting the family further into the spotlight.
12. Kendall Becomes a Supermodel
While Kim was sitting on the front line of fashion shows, her younger sister, Kendall Jenner was landing gigs to actually walk them. In 2014, the long-legged Jenner got her break and landed deals with all the big fashion houses including Dior, Chanel and Balmain.
From then on, Kendall became known as a supermodel, walking the runways for high-fashion designers during major fashion weeks and even became named the world’s highest-paid model by Forbes.
13. Kylie Cosmetics is Born
While Kenny was walking the runway, Kylie Jenner’s career took a completely different path. Kylie’s transformation garnered much attention, after she completely changed her look through lip fillers and rumored breast and butt implants.
The socialite benefited from this controversy, however, when she launched her very-own cosmetic brand (Kylie Lip Kits), and released her first product which sold out in seconds.
Her business venture was so popular, that she launched product after product, expanded and renamed it ‘Kylie Cosmetics’, and later moved on to skincare with the launch of ‘Kylie Skin’ in 2019.
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14. Kylie Becomes the World’s Youngest Self-Made Billionaire
At the young age of 21, Kylie’s earnings from Kylie Cosmetics marked her as the world’s youngest-ever self-made billionaire, exceeding Mark Zuckerburg who was 23 when he hit this mark. Although she was accused of “forging” her tax documents to appear as a billionaire, that doesn’t stop her bank account from still being huge. Nor does it stop her from being that famous.
15. Khloe’s Relationships Are Publicized
Indeed, what makes these Kardashians famous are their never-ending controversial relationships. If it isn’t Kim who’s making headlines about her ex-husband or latest beau, it’s her sister, Khloe.
From her notorious marriage failure with Lamar Odom, to her on-and-off-again relationship with her baby daddy Tristan Thompson, it seems like Khloe’s relationships are always under the watchful eye of the public. Khloe’s on-and-off-again relationship with Tristan gained much media attention, after the basketball player cheated on her multiple times.
16. Kim Becomes a Lawyer
Kim’s status took a complete 360 turn when she decided to follow in her father’s footsteps and study to become a lawyer. Her interest in criminal justice has helped release a handful of innocent prisoners who face life-sentences for crimes they didn’t commit.
The largest turning point, however, was her visit to the White House; during this visit, Kim convinced President Donald Trump to cut Alice Johnson’s sentence short and pardon it. She even aided the First Step Act in 2018, which banned shackling of female prisoners in labor.
Are the Kardashians slowly shifting from the glitzy spotlight and into the world of law? Now, that would be a game-changer!
There really is no telling what the Kardashians’ future holds, because as we’ve seen over the last decade – anything really is possible with this family! Whatever the case, we’ll be ready to watch it unfold with popcorn at the ready.
So, that’s how the Kardashians’ became famous! Let us know your thoughts on these controversial celebs by leaving a comment in the section below.
There are sections of this article that were written by Angela Stephanou.
This article was originally published in October 2020.