How did the Kardashians become who they are today? Much of their success is due to the multitasking skills of mom and manager Kris Jenner. In this thoughtful memoir, Kris Jenner talks about marriage, divorce, motherhood and faith. Here's an excerpt.
I know this sounds crazy, but this is exactly where I’m supposed to be: screaming through the streets of Paris in a chauffeur-driven Mercedes with my daughter Kimberly, on our way to see the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. How I got here has been a long, wild, and winding road, which we will get to in a moment. For now, I’m going to ask you to sit back and experience the ride.
It was September 2010, and Kim and I were in Paris to meet the international media to celebrate the fifth season of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, the hit reality show about our family, shown in many languages in 150 countries around the world.
The show’s producers, E! and Comcast Entertainment Group, flew us to Paris first-class on British Airways. From Paris we were flown in a shiny, sexy private jet (which looked just like a beautiful black Chanel handbag), along with our glam squad, to eight European cities for the media tour. The jet was stocked with my favorite champagne, Kim’s favorite snacks, and all our favorite blankets and movies. Fabulous.
Our show is the most-watched series in E! history, and by the end of 2010, Kim would be among the world’s most-searched people on the Internet. Her Twitter account, with almost ten million followers, as of this writing, would be among the five most followed in the world, along with those of President Barack Obama and Lady Gaga. And Kim would be named one of People magazine’s Most Beautiful People.
As for me, I’m a unique combination of mother and manager. I’ve actually trademarked the term “Momager,” which is what I am. I spend endless eighteen-hour days creating, nurturing, and juggling the insanely busy careers, endless personal appearances, and business enterprises of my six children—Kourtney, Kim, Khloé, Rob, Kendall, and Kylie—my husband, Bruce Jenner, my son-in-law Lamar Odom, and myself. Some of the many hats I wear include those of producer, creator, and star of our reality television series for E!, from which we have launched three spin-off hit television series. There are brand endorsements to run along with our own clothing lines, including the Kardashian Kollection for Sears. I also oversee several businesses, such as our skin care line, PerfectSkin; our diet and nutrition supplement business, Quick Trim; the fragrances Kim Kardashian, Kim Kardashian Gold, and Reflection, along with Khloé and Lamar’s fragrance, Unbreakable. Oh, and did I mention I have my own clothing line launching on QVC this fall, the Kris Jenner Kollection? And I finally launched my very own blog, www.OfficialKrisJenner.com. Whew!
My favorite hat, though, will always be “Mom.” In the midst of our media blitz through Europe, Kim and I were still a mother and daughter in Paris, and I kept insisting that we see the city. “We’re in Europe. We must do things that are really special,” I told her. “We can’t come all this way and not do a little sightseeing. We have to remember to always experience life and live it to the fullest.”
So I arranged a special trip to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. We awoke that morning with a special surprise planned by the general manager of the famous Ritz Hotel, Omer Acar.
“Before you visit our beautiful Louvre, I’ve planned something truly spectacular that I know you will both love,” he told us.
As Kim and I left our luxurious suite, we were escorted to another floor at the Ritz. The next thing I knew, we were inside the suite where Coco Chanel lived until her death in 1971. The day before, we had been taken to Azzedine Alaïa’s atelier with him in the trendy Marais district. Now to be in Madame Chanel’s suite! Kim and I were pinching ourselves.
As we exited the Ritz, I sadly remembered the last picture the world saw of Princess Diana before her fatal car accident—in the exact place where we were walking. Kim and I were taken aback by the blinding flash of dozens of photographers outside the hotel, as uniformed security guards hurried us to a waiting Mercedes. The cameramen climbed onto their motor scooters as we drove off in the Mercedes, and with police escorts in front and behind, their sirens blaring, we raced the paparazzi to the Louvre. Arriving at the famous museum’s pyramid, we were greeted by a team of escorts and security. They led us through private tunnels, up some stairs, then down some others. A door suddenly opened and we were standing behind a velvet rope, beyond which stood the world’s most famous woman: Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece of beauty and mystery, the Mona Lisa. Oh my God, pinch us again!
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The curator of the Louvre whispered in my ear, “We do not allow pictures with the Mona Lisa except on special occasions.” Then she gave us the okay to take a picture or two. So Kim and I stood to the side of the velvet rope as a large crowd gathered, whispering our names and waving to us wildly. We took pictures alongside the famous painting, as everyone else began taking pictures of us. Incredible!
When we left through the same side door we had entered, a crazy, chaotic crowd had gathered. It wasn’t until we were ushered away from the Mona Lisa that I realized I was numb, floating.
As I walked toward the car, my mind wandered back to 1978 when I stood in the exact same place in the exact same city on the other side of the same velvet rope, holding hands with my husband, Robert Kardashian. We were on our honeymoon and I was a twenty-two-year-old American Airlines flight attendant. I thought, Who could have imagined that I would be back thirty-something years later, and this would be my life? I had come full circle. Now, the road I had traveled was nothing I had ever expected or planned.
I know: the Mona Lisa will be here long after the Kardashians are gone. As I always tell my kids, “You’re going to meet the same people on the way down as you did on the way up. So be grateful and humble for the blessings that have been given to you.” Still, I had to admit that trip to the Louvre was one of the headiest experiences of my life.
I kept thinking: This is where I’m supposed to be.
I am a wife and a mother (believe it or not, I always dreamed of having six kids). I’m not only living that dream, I’m lucky enough to be living it on a huge stage. I’ve been blessed.
I made it through adversity, through personal storms, tremendous personal loss, a devastating divorce, and seemingly insurmountable tragedy, and managed to pick myself up and find love and happiness without ever losing my true self or my motivation to do something with my life and become the best person that I could be.
My mother told me I could do anything I set my mind to, and she taught me to set the bar high. She taught me to dream big and showed me through her strength and perseverance. My grandmother always said: “Do your best!” no matter how big or how small the job. And, of course, my lifelong motto is: “If someone says no, you’re talking to the wrong person.” Yet I would live two distinctly different lives—the first derailed by turmoil, tragedy, and wasted opportunities, the second as a wife and mother who not only reclaimed her power and lifelong love of family but went on to build the unlikely empire called the Kardashians.
Coming from humble yet wonderful beginnings in Southern California, I was lucky to meet a man who should have been the love of my life, a young and successful lawyer named Robert Kardashian. He transported me into a Beverly Hills dream life and helped me foster a close relationship with God. Then I threw it all away for a crazy love (or lust) affair that left me flattened. I lost my husband, my friends, my home, and nearly my mind, only to reassemble my life and my family with my second husband, the Olympic champion Bruce Jenner.
Shortly after Bruce and I were married, tragedy struck again: My dear friend Nicole Brown Simpson was found stabbed to death on the front steps of her home, and O.J. Simpson—another close friend whom I had known since Robert Kardashian and I were married and with whom I would be reunited during my marriage to Bruce Jenner—went on trial for her murder.
Through the grace of God, I landed on my feet with a second life, a second chance. Standing before the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, I could reflect on it all and what we had accomplished: turning the life and times of a Southern California family into a business, an international brand, that connects with millions of people around the world through our laughter, craziness, and, most important, our love for one another.
Yet, like the famous lady in the frame, to many we remain a mystery.
How did we get here? What is the mystique, the magic, the story behind the smiles? Who am I to manage my family as a business and produce a hit television series, which has spawned, as of this writing, three hit spin-off series, all supported by a seemingly endless stream of endorsements, modeling contracts, clothing and fragrance lines, magazine covers, and TV appearances?
It has taken me half a lifetime to live the story in these pages, one that I hope will show people you can follow your dreams—no matter how big—and still become whatever it is you set your mind to through hard work and perseverance, no matter your age or circumstances. And, as with any story worth telling, I have to start at the beginning . . .
Reprinted from "Kris Jenner...And All Things Kardashian" by Kris Jenner © 2011 by Kris Jenner. Used with permission of the publisher, Gallery Books/Karen Hunter Publishing, a division of Simon & Schuster.
© 2012 MSNBC Interactive