Also Credited As:Nicole Camille Richie
|Nicole Camille Richie on September 21, 1981 in Berkeley, California, USA|
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Born Nicole Camille Escovedo in Berkeley, CA on Sept. 21, 1981, this multi-ethnic beauty started life as the biological child of musician Peter Michael Escovedo and an anonymous mother. Unable to financially support their daughter at the time, Escovedo and his wife surrendered custody of their daughter over to family friend Lionel Richie and his wife, Brenda Harvey, in 1983. Raised unofficially as Richie's own daughter from the age of two on - her adoption would be legally formalized in 1991 - Nicole grew up in the posh suburbs of Beverly Hills and attended the prestigious Buckley School. It was here where she met future best friend and partner-in-crime, hotel heiress Paris Hilton.
After graduating high school in 2000, Richie attended the University of Arizona but dropped out after two years, declaring that she was "over it." Returning to L.A. in 2002, Richie reunited with her BFF Hilton. Thanks to their talent for 'round-the-clock partying, Hilton and Richie quickly became fixtures on the Hollywood club scene, inspiring the coinage of a new term: the "celebutante." Hob-knobbing with celebrities promptly earned the photogenic pair their own press - publicity which they were able to parlay into careers of their own.
In 2003, Richie and Hilton made their television debuts as the stars of "The Simple Life" (Fox/E!, 2003-07), an unscripted reality show that focused on the misadventures of the two pampered beauties. Initially less confident in front of the cameras than her more outgoing co-star, Richie found herself playing second fiddle and sidekick to Hilton for most of the first season. Eventually, however, Richie came into her own and went from being simply Paris' wisecracking junior partner to the funnier, smarter of the two. It was Richie who was forced to explain to a perplexed Hilton what a Wal-Mart was; in another, Richie had to explain what a water well found in their bedroom was for. While the concept of watching Richie and Hilton struggling to survive out of their element, week in and week out, might have seemed amusing on paper, some viewers found the show repugnantly condescending and even mean-spirited - especially to the real-life "simple folk" who were forced to tolerate their antics. One reviewer, in particular, blasted the show for being nothing more than a spectacle which celebrates "the callow arrogance of two spoiled little rich brats." Little did it matter. In the end, "The Simple life" was a ratings hit for Fox and the two were signed on for a second season.
In the meantime, Richie went into the recording studio to record her first album. Though she insisted the attempt was not meant to capitalize on her newfound fame, few found her claim credible. Richie also auditioned for the part of Maureen in the popular Broadway hit, "Rent," though she later confessed she had never seen the play. Richie did manage to rack up some TV acting roles, including guest stints on "Six Feet Under" (HBO, 2001-05), "American Dreams" (NBC, 2002-05), "8 Simple Rules..." (ABC, 2002-05) and "Eve" (UPN, 2003-06), but it was "The Simple Life" that kept her in the spotlight. In the second and third seasons respectively, Richie and Hilton were sent on a cross country road trip; then worked as interns for a variety of professions.
But in 2005, a well-publicized falling-out between the two lifelong friends nearly jeopardized the future of "The Simple Life." For a while, rumors floated that Richie would be dumped from the show and replaced by another celebutante, Kimberly Stewart - daughter of rock icon Rod Stewart. However, after several months of speculation, Fox announced that both heiresses would return for a new season together. Just a few weeks later, though, Fox unexpectedly did an about-face and announced there was "no longer room" on its 2005-06 schedule for "The Simple Life." Once the series was released and shopped around to other networks, cable's E! Entertainment snapped up the rights. The fourth season of "The Simple Life" debuted in spring 2006 to impressive ratings - at least by E!'s standards. Part of the draw was watching how the two former friends would interact with one another while hating each other.
Unfortunately, not unlike her friends Lindsay Lohan and Hilton, Richie was not immune to running astray of the law. On Feb. 27, 2003, Richie was arrested in Malibu for felony possession of heroin and driving with a suspended license. Richie further exacerbated the situation when she missed her April 29th court date. Luckily a high-priced Hollywood lawyer persuaded the judge to skip remanding the wayward felon. Richie was then arrested again in California on Dec. 11, 2006 after failing a field sobriety test when motorists reported Richie entering the freeway on the exit ramp driving in the wrong direction. Charged with a DUI by the California Highway Patrol, Richie eventually admitted to using marijuana and Vicodin before the incident. On July 27, 2007, the socialite was sentenced to four days in jail.
On July 31, 2007 - just three days after her sentencing - Richie officially broke the news that she was pregnant, resulting in the tides turning for the better in her life. The father of her unborn child was Richie's boyfriend of four months, Joel Madden, lead singer of the rock group, Good Charlotte. Richie's pregnancy mellowed the celebutante, as she settled into serene domestication with the rocker before giving birth to her first child, daughter Harlow on Jan. 11, 2008. The couple would go on to announce Richie's second pregnancy in early 2009, but her happiness was soon dashed when she suffered the loss of her first real love and one-time fiancé, Adam "D.J. AM" Goldstein, after he miraculously survived a plane crash in September 2008, only to die of a rumored prescription drug overdose on Aug. 28, 2009. The couple had endured a tempestuous on-off love affair, beginning in 2004. By February 2005 they were engaged, but rumors of her wild ways and possible substance abuse at that time resulted in the couple calling off their engagement in December 2005. Despite any initial hard feelings, Richie had remained fond of Goldstein.