Without the mother of the Kardashian-Jenner dynasty, Kris Jenner, and her ex-husband Robert Kardashian, there would be no Keeping Up with the Kardashians. We’d still be stuck keeping up with the plain ‘ol Jones. So how did this power couple meet and fall in love? Here’s the story of how the Kardashians began.
Kris Jenner | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic
In the spring of 1973, Kris — known then as Kristen Mary Houghton — was 17 years old and was dating pro golfer Cesar Sanudo. While Cesar was out of town, Kris decided to go to the Del Mar racetrack in California, where she met 28-year-old Robert Kardashian. For Robert, it was love at first sight. But Kris still had Cesar.
Since Cesar was living on the road, he was gone a lot. Kris brought Robert over to their house where things began to get hot and heavy. That’s when Cesar came home. According to Kris: “Things were not pretty.” Cesar ripped a hole in Kardashian’s sweater when he tried to grab him. Kris and Cesar’s relationship was over, but her relationship with Robert was just beginning.
In Jerry Oppenheimer’s book, The Kardashians: An American Drama (which Kris has never confirmed to be true) he claims to have known Kris growing up. Oppenheimer says that after Kris and Robert were caught cheating, Robert dumped Kris to be with Priscilla Presley — his first love. But when the relationship didn’t work out because Robert wasn’t able to turn Priscilla into “the perfect Armenian housewife,” he began to pursue Kris again.
Robert was a high profile lawyer and he wanted Kris, who at the time was a flight attendant for American Airlines. But Kris wasn’t ready to settle down, as she wanted to see the world. She rejected his first marriage proposal, but he was persistent and the second time he proposed, she accepted.
The two were married in 1978 when Kris was 22. They moved to Beverly Hills and began a family, having four children: Kourtney, Kim, Khloe and Robert Jr. According to the New York Times, the couple spent their weekends wearing Fila warm-up suits and playing tennis with their friends, O.J. Simpson and his wife Nicole Brown Simpson.
By the time Kris was in her 30s, she had become a bored housewife. She loved her family, Robert, and the life Robert was able to provide, but something was missing. Kris found the excitement she craved in the arms of a lover, soccer star Todd Waterman. In her 2011 memoir, Kris Jenner…And All Things Kardashian, she described the affair as, “wild crazy sex all the time. We had sex in cars, sex on the tennis court, sex in the pool house, sex in the garage when we got home, sex up and down the stairs, sex everywhere, all the time.”
When Robert found out about her affair, he canceled her credit cards and ended the marriage. Kris became alienated from her friends, depressed and miserable. She later called the affair the biggest regret of her life.
Even though they had a messy divorce, the pair were able to get along fairly well after the split. Bruce Jenner — now known as Caitlyn Jenner — even asked Robert for permission before he married Kris in 1991.
When their friend O.J. Simpson was put on trial for his wife’s murder in 1995, Robert was asked to be part of the team that represented him. But Kris had been friends with Nicole. During the trial, she sat in the courtroom, pregnant with Kendall, and wore Nicole’s hand-me-down maternity clothes in protest. When Kendall was born, she was given the middle name of Nicole, after Kris’ deceased friend.
Kris Jenner’s biggest regret
Robert passed away in 2003 from cancer. At the time of his death, he and Kris were very good friends. Kris told Harper’s Bazaar that her only regret in life is her divorce from Robert. “I had a wonderful, beautiful life with Robert. He was just an amazing man.” When she went through the Bruce/Caitlyn transition, it was a hard time for Kris, and she said she wished she could call Robert and lean on him. “I always wish I could call Robert right now. That’s an everyday thing.”