How does she get away with it? Every time you see your favorite star behaving badly, you have to wonder, don’t you? She falls into a pit of scandal almost monthly and comes out smelling like a bottle of very expensive perfume. It’s amazing. It’s common. And in “The Kardashians” by Jerry Oppenheimer, you’ll see that it might’ve been planned.
The empire began “in the poor, mostly unschooled Deep South.” Kristen “Kris” Houghton, born to an ambitious mother and an absent, alcoholic father, was a well-liked beauty with an outgoing personality and many good friends but her aspirations, says Oppenheimer, didn’t seem to go beyond finding a rich man to marry. Guided by her mother, teenage Kris looked and acted much older than she was, so she started her search at grown-up clubs and parties.
Her first love was nine years older than she. Not long after becoming engaged to that older man, Kris met Robert Kardashian, lawyer and sometime entrepreneur, whose star was on the rise. She was “in her late teens,” he was 30 years old.
Kardashian was smitten and gave her self-improvement tapes; Oppenheimer says she cheated on her fiancé with him, then she told Kardashian to get lost. He did — briefly dating Priscilla Presley before reconciling with Kris and ultimately convincing her to marry him, but not before introducing her to his friend, O.J. Simpson.
By all outward appearances, the Kardashian marriage was a happy one. The couple had four (or, Oppenheimer says, maybe three) children in the time they were married and Kardashian treated Kris like a “princess.” She never wanted for a thing.
“Still,” says Oppenheimer, “she cheated on him. But first came new breasts.”
Despite nasty rumors swirling around Hollywood, Kris (whose husband once dated Elvis’s ex-wife) married Olympian Bruce Jenner (who’d been married to Elvis’s one-time girlfriend) very soon after her divorce from Robert Kardashian. The Jenners then set about raising his-hers-and-ours kids in a “loving,” boisterous household and in the spring of 2002, she offered up that “’crazy Hollywood family’” to reality TV.
Deliciously snarky and filled with lines that will make you gasp before you LOL, reading “The Kardashians” is like doing a cannonball into a pool filled with two decades’ worth of supermarket tabloids. Ker-splash.
The claws come out in Oppenheimer’s introduction, and they don’t re-sheath until … well, they just don’t. Oppenheimer uses Kris Kardashian’s biography and her own words in this tell-most — and he often does it to turn the tables on sunny tales she’s told. Further OMG scandal is found through interviews with people associated with Robert Kardashian, O.J. Simpson, Nicole Simpson, Linda Thompson, Kris-as-teenager, Kimye, Khloe, and others in an ever-swirling Kardashian circle. Readers, in fact, may be surprised at how far that circle extends.
Jaws will drop with this book, pearls will be clutched but overall, it’s a lot of snide fun with occasional shades of Schadenfreude. Who could resist? If you’re traveling this winter, be sure “The Kardashians” is a book you get away with.