Also Credited As:Kimberly Noel Kardashian
|Kimberly Noel Kardashian on October 21, 1980 in Los Angeles, California, USA|
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She was born Kimberly Noel Kardashian in the exclusive San Fernando Valley community of Calabasas, CA on Oct. 21, 1980. Her father was attorney Robert Kardashian, who gained infamy as the man who sheltered O.J. Simpson after the double murders of Simpson's ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman; and later as a member of his colossal legal team. Her mother was socialite Kris Houghton, who divorced Kardashian in 1989 before marrying Olympic legend, Bruce Jenner. Prior to his involvement in the Simpson case, Kardashian's father had been out of the legal profession for almost two decades and was operating a music marketing firm called Movie Tunes. Kardashian worked there while attending Catholic school, and decided to follow in her father's footsteps after his death in 2003. She struck out on her own as a wardrobe stylist for music commercials and video shoots, but apparently found her calling as a "closet designer" - one who organizes closets, it was assumed - after helping Bernadette Leonard, her godmother and wife to boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard, bring some order to her own storage areas.
Kardashian's connections to the celebrity scene helped to bring her front and center on various red carpets and events, but she remained far afield from the likes of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan in terms of coverage in the gossip publications. Even a high profile marriage to producer and songwriter Damon Thomas from 2000-04 did little to improve her standing among the real tabloid champs. All of that changed in 2006 with the "accidental" release of a graphic sex tape featuring her in explicit scenes with singer Ray J, whose claim to fame up until that point was a series of modest record successes and kinship with singer Brandy Norwell.
Though both side vehemently denied releasing the tape to the public, the actions of both Kardashian and Ray J indicated otherwise. Kardashian was glimpsed donning makeup prior to filming, and the erstwhile male star/cameraman issues an explicit warning to viewers of the tape. Regardless of the details, the footage was snapped up by Vivid Entertainment, one of the leading producers and distributors of American pornographic material, and released to the public in 2006. Kardashian released a statement that expressed her intent to block the DVD by legal means, but later settled for a $5 million payout for her troubles. The DVD went on to become one of the top-selling titles of the year, and the press that both preceded and followed its street date helped to put Kardashian in sharp focus with the press.
After the usual round of mea culpa over the tape in interviews, Kardashian soon found herself the subject of serious coverage by tabloid and entertainment news sources. Surprisingly, many of the write-ups passed over the sex tape story in favor of bigger news - namely, her behind. Scores of articles and blogs were devoted to guessing the size of her rear end, how it got to such a prodigious circumference, and whether it was supplemented by artificial means or not. For her part, Kardashian was happy to stand in profile or be captured in as many over the shoulder photographs as possible, passing off her attributes as genetic; in that being half Armenian, she was predisposed to a larger backside.
The fact that reams of words and pictures were being expended over Kardashian did not go unnoticed by television producers, who fell over themselves to find a vehicle on which to hang her ascending star. She was soon making appearances alongside Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie in "The Simple Life" (Fox/E!, 2003-05, 2007), as well as other reality shows like "Sunset Tan" (E!, 2007- ). But clearly, audience demand for more Kardashian coverage demanded that she earn a show of her own, and in 2007, "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" (E!, 2007- ) replaced "The Simple Life" as E!'s flagship reality series.
Though pitched as a depiction of life at home with Kardashian, her mother and stepfather, and their extended brood, "Keeping Up" operated from that grey zone known as "semi-scripted" reality television, which meant that some of the "wacky" situations aired for viewers were concocted by a crack team of writers and not the product of the Kardashian's day-to-day existence. For her part, Kardashian seemed largely removed from the chaos of her home life, which counted her sisters Kourtney and Khloe, brother Robert Jr., half-sisters Kendall and Kylie, and stepbrothers Burton, Brandon and Brody among its daily visitors. Her participation seemed limited to working at Dash, the clothing store she co-owned with her sisters, and commenting on the hijinks her sisters and mother seemed to stir up in each episode while Jenner cast disapproving glances like a sitcom dad. However, in true Kardashian fashion, there were a few racy moments to maintain interest, such as a 2007 photo shoot for Playboy and a sexy calendar layout intended for boyfriend and New Orleans Saints pro Reggie Bush which somehow gets sold to the public by her mother. Critics dismissed the program as one of the more pointless exercises in reality television, but its ratings soared with each subsequent season.
The added exposure allowed Kardashian to expand her "brand" to other venues as well. In 2008, she released her own exercise DVD, "The Kim Kardashian Workout: For Your Mind, Body and Spirit," which was produced through her production company, Kimsaprincess Productions, and a signature fragrance was also announced. Later that same year, she was announced as one of the celebrity contestants on the seventh season of "Dancing with the Stars," on which she was paired with professional dancer, heartthrob and season six winner Mark Ballas. Kardashian was top-billed alongside such other marginal actresses as Carmen Electra and Vanessa Minnillo in "Disaster Movie" (2008), a kitchen-sink pop culture comedy that featured her in scenes spoofing World Wrestling Entertainment divas, among other soft targets.That same year, fiction became reality when Kardashian served as the hostess for WrestleMania XXIV, which took place on March 30, 2008 in Orlando, FL. Meanwhile, she began popping up onscreen outside of reality TV with more frequency, appearing as herself on episodes of "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS, 2005- ) and "90210" (The CW, 2008- ), and even tackling fictional roles on "CSI: NY" (CBS, 2004- ), "Beyond the Break" (The N, 2006-09) and "Drop Dead Diva" (Lifetime, 2009- ).
Toward the end of the decade, the ever-entrepreneurial Kardashian expanded her business dealings to included a wide variety of products, co-founding the shoe shopping service ShoeDazzle, releasing a workout video called "Fit In Your Jeans by Friday" (2009), selling clothing lines through QVC, Bebe and Sears, and even hocking a sunless tanner called Kardashian Glamour Tan. She and her sisters even entered the book business by releasing their autobiography Kardashian Konfidential (2010), a hodgepodge of family remembrances, style tips and dating advice. Of course, despite her many successes, Kardashian was also a magnet for controversy. In April 2010, as she finished a nude photo shoot for Allure, Kardashian was photographed picking up a kitten by the scruff of the neck, leading to condemnation from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), a group that had already named her one of the worst people for animal welfare for constantly wearing fur coats. In December 2010, Kardashian released her first music single, "Jam (Turn It Up)," which she recorded with hit-making producer, The Dream. Half the proceeds were donated to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, but that failed to stop critics from expressing their negative reactions to the song, with one even declaring Kardashian to be the "worst singer" in reality television.
But the biggest story at the time was undoubtedly her relationship with NBA player Kris Humphries, whom she began dating in October 2010. Kardashian and Humphries became engaged in May 2011 and married to great media fanfare that August, all while she and sister Kourtney starred in the spinoff series, "Kourtney and Kim Take New York" (E!, 2011- ), which followed the pair to the Big Apple where they opened a D-A-S-H store. Kardashian's marriage to Humphries was the story of the summer - at least as far as the tabloids went - and led to a two-day special aired on E! in early October. But her wedding bliss was short-lived, as Kardashian filed for divorced a mere 72 days after her nuptials, a move that sparked outrage from all corners. In fact, the backlash was so severe that some news outlets declared the marriage was nothing more than a publicity stunt designed to promote the family's brand and various television shows. Even her former publicist, Jonathan Jaxson, publicly confirmed suspicions, leading Kardashian and her family to deny all allegations and file suit against Jaxson to prove their point. Meanwhile, an online petition circulated demanding E! remove their shows from the air, citing an "emphasis on vanity, greed, promiscuity, vulgarity and over-the-top conspicuous consumption."
Controversy failed to end there, however, as Kardashian and her two sister were named in a $5 million class-action lawsuit for their endorsement of the weight-loss product, QuickTrim. Apparently, users of the product failed to see the same results claimed by the three Kardashians - with Kim and Khloé claiming to have lost 15 pounds - and asserted that the sisters must have shed the weight through other means. Also at the time, the family faced more serious charges from human rights groups claiming that their various products were made in Chinese sweatshops with workers as young as 16 years old and under harsh working conditions. Naturally, the family vehemently denied the claims, but it appeared as though the name brand had begun to significantly tarnish. But the allegations did nothing to stop the Kardashians from signing a blockbuster deal with E! to the tune of $40 million, guaranteeing that their shows would remain on air for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, Kardashian saw herself fit again to date in public, this time hitching her star to rap star and longtime friend, Kanye West, with whom she became romantically entangled in April 2012. The affair raised more than a few eyebrows, of course, particularly when Kardashian expressed her enthusiasm for being the inspiration of West's new song, "Perfect Bitch."