Before we had ever even heard of Lynne Spears, Dina Lohan and Kris Jenner, there was a very original stage Mom – Kathleen Dugan Avanzino Richards Catain Fenton – the mother of Kathy Hilton, Kim Richards and Kyle Richards. Most of their family history has already been documented and dissected in at least one book and innumerable tabloids. Her legacy, that being her three daughters, has piqued our interest and curiosity since the first airing of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”, which brought two of those daughters back into the limelight.
Kim and Kyle Richards struggle with that legacy, which, we have been told, was neither pretty nor anywhere close to idyllic. Big Kathy, as she has come to be known, was described by one magazine writer as a Gatsby-like figure, always searching for money, glamor and, like Jay Gatsby, love and acceptance. She taught her daughters how to use their feminine wiles to achieve some of these goals. She also pushed them to become famous.
We are now witnesses to the damage her mothering and their childhoods have wrought. In particular, Kim is a truly lost soul, still trying to live in the world of child star she once was. It is not fun or entertaining to watch. In the first season, Kim gave a rambling talking head interview in which she tried to explain that her niece, Paris, was unaware of the stature her Aunt Kim had once had. Kim referred to herself as an icon. My apologies, Kim, but I had to Google you to figure out how I knew your name. It was more than a little embarrassing but gave us a little snapshot of a woman clearly stuck in her perceived glory days. This season, we now see a woman who is unraveling, due to alcohol, substance abuse or a combination of both. She rarely makes any sense, lies when it suits her purposes, appears to be unable to arrive anywhere on time and informs anyone that she doesn’t care for that they simply don’t exist.
Her sister Kyle has been both the victim and enabler of her sister’s issues. Kyle tries to make sense of what makes no sense, gets angry, cries or simply ignores her sister. Not all of this is their fault or making. Big Kathy let them down. In her own desire to become somebody, she fell down in the mothering department. The lessons that she needed to pass on to her girls just weren’t in her curriculum.
The sister relationship is a funny animal. I have a younger sister, and while we have our differences, we always know that we share a history of love, tears, pain and laughter. I don’t try to mother her or offer unsolicited advice. Our own mother, despite some turbulent times in our household, taught us much by example. She found a job, went back to college, instilled in us a love of books, a solid work ethic and the need for an education. We were sent out into the world with the message that we were supposed to share the contents of our lunch bags and never hit the other children. She showed us that we could be anything we wanted to be, and even allowed us to fail without constantly being our safety net. From that, we learned how to stand on our own two feet. That’s the best lesson – thanks Mom.
That is why I am willing to give these two women a pass on some of their drama. I have found myself tearing up as they try to understand each other. No one gave them the tools they so needed to become adult women. They grew up with a controlling, even domineering, role model and have, themselves, become controlling. We have only seen two seasons of how they interact as sisters as well as with others, and even that has been heavily filtered by Bravo’s less than fair editing. Their problems go back some forty years. Bad behaviors have not been addressed and, from what I have seen, neither of these women has ever been held to task for them. Kim is unable to stay in rehab long enough to truly confront and manage her demons. Even with Bravo’s slanted editing, one can see that Kyle could find some peace and coping skills with her own course of therapy. I truly wish them the best for their futures.
– Note to the Richards sisters – please avoid any appointments with the charming but questionable Dr. Sophy.
The Real Housewives of Atlanta – a quick assessment of relationships
Apollo and Phaedra get my vote as a couple who might just have a real marriage. They sure do love that little boy.
Kroy appears to have a positive influence on Kim. (I could have done without the romantic evening becoming a family project) I’m keeping my fingers crossed for both of them.
Somebody tell me why Cynthia thought Peter was better spouse material than Leon. Peter was downright juvenile with his whining about he never gets to go anywhere or get a day off or go on vacation. Grow up, man.
Nene and Marlo are scary enough as individuals. Together they are just dangerous!
Good morning Empress. I left a post on yesterday’s blog; it was however, posted this morning. I hope you have time to reply. Congratulations on the new blog! I do not agree that the Richard sisters deserve a pass. My childhood rivals Oliver Twist’s but one can learn without parents. The Richard sisters no longer pick their noses in public because they have learned it is socially unacceptable. But they don’t apply social expectations to all aspects if their actions. JMO
Salient point, DR.
Dame, I’m with you in that one can learn without parents. Empress, while I was reading what you wrote “we were sent out into the world with the message that we were supposed to share our lunch and not hit other children”, I thought to myself how nice it must be to be sent out into the world with any kind of message and I found myself wishing that I’d had your mother. I was unleashed into the world having been taught nothing, raised by two alcoholics one of whom was a paranoid schizophrenic, never having been told anything positive about myself or that I was loved. It was bleak, believe me and it was terribly difficult to navigate through life having been so unprepared.
It was no cakewalk but somehow with no guidance, no opportunity, no love, no advantage, no influence, no education, no money I still managed to have a pretty damned exciting life, full of incredible experiences. All those incredible experiences, however, co-existed with a great deal of strife. I was a drug addicted alcoholic but I quit drinking and drugs on my own, without rehab, although I was in therapy and it was through therapy that I was able come to terms with my demons. It’s hard for me, knowing what I have had to overcome entirely on my own, to empathize with someone like Kim or Kyle or any of them for that matter.
At times I feel that I’m too hard on other people with my attitude of, “well, I did it; I overcame this handicap, I overcame that hardship; I did it on my own so why can’t you too”. We cannot help the circumstances of our birth but at a certain point in everyone’s life they must take responsibility for their own happiness and their own state of mind. From what I’ve heard, Big Kathy was a horrible person and her legacy is generation after generation of vapid, shallow, mean and nasty women. I’m not willing to cut her daughters, Kim and Kyle, any slack. I’m sorry but I just think it is not okay to behave the way they do; there’s no excuse for it.
The fact that you had an amazing adventurous life and conquered your demons on your own terms speaks to your fortitude, intelligence, and determination. I agree that it is hard to have sympathy for people like Kim and Kyle because the key to their health is within them. Yet they continue to play victim and blame everything but themselves for their troubles. They can break the cycle if they choose to. You have, and I would like to believe that I have as well in certain areas of my life.
People like Kyle and Kim suck the life out of those around them, while making excuses for their bad behavior. Their life is their responsibility. Period. Like you, me and probably many others here, they could overcome their childhood hurt if they wanted to.
Mornin’ Dame, I know where you are coming from. I will only excuse some of their behaviors as I agree that a dysfunctional childhood never trumps how you present yourself to the world. I think that the Richards sister do not know how to look into their own mirrors and see anything but the beautiful young starlets they once were. Others have said the same thing about Kim and Kyle – the very first step is admitting you have a problem. Otherwise you are doomed to repeat those patterns over and over. As Dr. Phil would say “So how’s that workin’ for you?”
That is why I commented on their need to find real, honest, individual therapy. Most folks, at some point in their lives, need some help.
Empress thank you so much for bringing this up. I personally like Kyle alot. I think she takes a lot of heat for Kim’s failures.
Kyle should star in a video about codependency. Kyle’s obsession with fixing Kim is classic. Kyle tries everything and then when nothing works she beomes enraged and/or depressed. Also, Kyle’s immature, katty and dramatic faces, eye rolls and jaw drops are entertaining, irritating and ridiculous.
When Taylor slithered over to Kyle last season it looked to me that Kyle was grateful to have a new human fix-it project since Kim wasn’t cooperating. Taylor identified Kyle as needy – a very smart thing on Taylor’s part.
In the rush to judge her, most people ignore Kyle’s terrific track record. Her eldest daughter is the first child in the Big Kathy family to graduate college. Kyle has a great relationship with her former husband. Kyle keeps her mid-age children off camera. Kyle and Mauricio appear to have a respectful and happy relationship. Kyle’s mother in law loves her and is completely included in the family.
Kyle has been more successful than most adult children of a stage mom. I have’t read the books about their family but I have often wondered if Big Kathy was an alcoholic.
Empress, do you think Kim will recover?
I never say never for people who suffer from any form of psychological issues. I think Kim’s addiction(s) need to be addressed in conjunction with her emotional trauma. This is Kim’s problem and she needs to face it. Kyle will never be able to understand or help her sister unless she, too works on her issues, including how to deal with a family member in need. Basically, what I think is that perhaps they should go into separate corners, work on acquiring some skill sets, then meet up later.
I am no expert on addiction, but I have seen the many forms it takes and just how hard it is to come out on the other side. You mentioned it, and I agree – no one can “fix” anyone else.
Howdy, Adgirl. I keep remembering Taylor saying “should we talk about her state of mind?” (to Kyle, about Kim) at the reunion, and how disappointed she seemed when Kyle didn’t react to her statement. I think in Taylor’s world, creating an enemy makes the other person a better “friend” to her.
I agree with Kyle’s “track record” though. There is a lot to admire there. But her shift season 2 – what with the “baby” voice and her (we assume, from Taylor “confronting” Lisa at the tea party) disappointment at Lisa becoming the breakout “star” and her overall meanness this season tells me something is up. I just sense it. 😦
Oops! I know you asked Empress, but (like Nancy) I have a lot of experience with addiction, etc. And the one quality I’ve found that everyone needs to recover is a sense of hope that your life will become better if you put down the crap you’re taking to avoid life. I know that sounds airy and obtuse, but I really mean it.
I have wondered IF for some reason not known to us if KYLE is afraid of therapy…????
I wondered that too. We really don’t know what happened to them as they became young women. It could just be an ego thing – that belief that “there’s nothing wrong with me.” We also don’t know the extent of Kathy Hilton’s role in any of this – and I don’t know if it’s because she is a half-sister, or she is a HILTON, and therefore above all of this, or we just aren’t privy to her side because she chooses to stay away from Bravo’s cameras.
Good day Empress,
If Kim isn’t asked back I wonder who is going to support her?
IMHO Kim needs to “marry” the 12 step program and completely change her life or she
doesn’t have a hope of sobriety. Excuse the pun but I would bet the farm that she hasn’t
attended any 12 step meetings sense she’s left rehab. There is much more than alcoholism/addiction going on with her. In a word she’s a mess. The entire family needs to be working a program of their own or nothing is going to change in that family sorry to say.
Nancy… The problem with Kim is there is always a fall back person for her to rely on. She needs the TOUGH LOVE routine..slam the door and tell her it’s time to join the big people world…. I know that sounds mean …BOOHOO… She’s never had anyone tell her NO….and that just keeps making everything she does OKAY in her mind….
maybe her safety net needs to be taken away from her….
I completely agree with you Diva. The people around need to get together and strategize the tough love approach.
I couldn’t agree more.
nancy – the pun was hysterical. still laughing…
Well I dont know that much about Kathy Hilton, nor do I care to..BUT…I would have to say she’s the smartest of the three girls for staying away from BRAVO and the cameras.
I wonder if the intrusion of cameras amplify just how whacked out these people really are OR is that really who they are ???
Sad really when you think about it….
I heard that she couldn’t appear on Bravo because of Pairs’s show.
They wouldn’t allow it.
Years ago I was reading a NY paper online and they were gushing over two young women who frequented the nightclubs. It was astonishing because the girls were young, around 17 or 18. Too young to be in a bar. Those were the Hilton girls. Apparently, Kathy and Rick had no problem with their daughters partying it up with famous people. Of the three Big Kathy daughters Kyle has brought her children up the most “normally”.
Empress I find it almost impossible to watch Kim’s scenes. Also ffwd thru Taylor’s. Maybe Kathy Hilton is/has been helping Kim get treatment. Unfortunately it hasn’t worked yet. So it has been reported that Kim doesn’t watch RHOBH. If she did perhaps she would get serious about treatment.
We haven’t heard much about Kim’s children. Maybe that’s a good thing? Seeing how Paris Hilton turned out could be the reason Kim & Kyle are careful with what they allow their children to do. What a family…a cautionary tale of the dark side of fame & Hollywood.
Meanwhile, could “Downtown Abbey” on Masterpiece Theater (Sun. nights @ 8 pm) be any better? Asking myself with shows like this who needs Bravo lol!
Kim’s children have had limited exposure on RHoBH and with those few scenes, they don’t seem to be very happy with their Mom’s antics.
As for Downton Abbey, I heard about it only after it was well along in the storyline. I have put it on my Netflix queue so that I can watch it from the beginning.
It is good to know that we have alternatives for viewing.
Darling – you’re forgetting “Revenge.” 🙂 Such a fun show, and so much tension.
Empress, great blog. It’s such a sad tale for the Richards sisters. It seems that their mother had a devastating impact on them. Sometimes people just can’t get past their childhood and realize that they have choices and that if they are unhappy with their life, its up to them to change it. Much easier said than done, but if a person wants a better life its up to them to make it happen.
I dunno, guys. Not to lay on the cultural snark *too* heavily, but these gals aren’t the Gabors and they aren’t the Cushing sisters, either.