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Kathy Hilton Shares New Details About Her Life Before RHOBH (Yes, Including When Bethenny Worked for Her)

The RHOBH sister has connections to Real Housewives from across the coasts, including Bethenny Frankel, that go back decades.

By Jocelyn Vena
Kathy Hilton Life Before Rhobh

Kathy Hilton has made a splash during Season 11 of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. She's shared some unexpected confessions and showed off her silly side. Much like sisters Kim Richards and Kyle Richards, Kathy is quite the natural in front of the cameras.

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Even with such ease in the spotlight, there was someone from her past that she reached out to for some wisdom about being on a reality show before she decided to share her life with the world. And it's not necessarily the person you might be thinking.

When it came time for some advice going into Season 11, Kathy revealed to Bravo Insider, "I actually reached out to Bethenny Frankel... Bethenny used to work for me, and she's a friend and whatever. So she texted back, 'Ask Kyle.' So I was like, 'Oh, really? OK, fine.' Then she just reached out to me and wished me a happy Mother's Day and was very sweet. We're good," Kathy said.

Then she opened up about her history with Bethenny, which includes a stint during which The Real Housewives of New York City alum worked as a babysitter to Kathy's daughters, Paris Hilton and Nicky Hilton Rothschild. "She was a jack of all trades," Kathy said. "She helped me cook. She helped me pick the kids up at school, whatever."

But, of course, Kathy has known many of the Real Housewives for ages. "Lisa Rinna, I've known her forever. I've known Dorit [Kemsley] probably for about five years. Crystal [Kung Minkoff] I've known a long time. Who else? Garcelle [Beauvais] and I have known each other through social things. We have a lot of friends in common. And we go to a lot of the same parties, so we'd see each other," she said.

The Hilton-Richards sisters, in one way or another, have been living their lives in the public eye since they were kids, even before The Real Housewives came calling. "We’ve been doing this a long time. Kim since she’s a baby, and Kathy started out in the world, too, modeling in New York City and stuff when she was just a toddler," Kathy's little sister and RHOBH OG Kyle shared in a separate interview with Bravo Insider, noting, "My first regular TV series, I was 5 years old just to sort of [to] put things in, in perspective... So we’ve been doing this our entire lives."

Kathy has also been passionate about philanthropy and charity for as long as she can remember. "I work on a lot of different things, and I have been doing that since I was 19 years old," she said, noting it was the influence of her late mother, Kathleen Richards, that shaped her love for it. "Well, my mother always had me doing things when I was [a kid], starting out as a Girl Scout and a Brownie [and] starting and selling cookies and, and doing all of that. I was raised to always give and to give back."

But, it turns out that her mom's influence goes even deeper than her love for charity. Kyle added, "Yes [Kathy has always been funny]. And always funny, you know. My mom was also really funny, but Kim’s funny; I’m funny [laughs]. People used to say, 'How come they don’t show how funny you are on the show?' And I’m like, 'Because I’m just trying to stay alive. Are you kidding me? Like we’re, we’re like bickering and fighting and crying. There’s like nothing funny about what’s happening right now.' But, I’ve always known we come from a family of people that have a good sense of humor and the kookiness and that part. I [didn't] realize as much until I saw it through someone else’s eyes with my sister Kim on the show [laughs]. I think back to when she fell off the chair in her interview, and I’m just like, I literally, every time I see that, I die laughing. And, you know, now I’m like, 'Oh, I guess they are kind of kooky.' I just thought maybe I was the weird one in my family [laughs]."

But, of course, Kathy is quite serious about her work with charity, as well as party planning. "When I got married, that's what I did. I started working as a receptionist, when I got married, at the Waldorf in New York. And I worked in banquet and sales and party planning. And a lot of it was exposing me to a lot of different charities. And I would do a lot of the charities and give tours of the ballroom and all of it. So I was exposed to all of these different [organizations], and that kind of played into my love of entertaining," she said.

Kathy continued, "[I would be] going through and picking out the china with the client and the [tablecloths], just all the little details. And then I started being invited to be on different boards [in New York]."

She now lives in Los Angeles and noted that, to this day, "I like to do it all. I like to be very involved in whatever I do. I like to go visit the facilities, and know what it is that I'm [involved in]. I feel that I'm lucky and I'm grateful for what I have, and it makes me really feel good to be able to share and give back. You can't just take, take, take."

If Kathy were to meet up with her younger self, she would definitely have a message for her now that she's an accomplished woman, with four grown kids (Paris, Nicky, Barron, and Conrad), several young grandchildren, a lovely circle of friends, and 40-plus years of marriage to Rick Hilton under her designer belt.

"I would say, 'You've had a really, really exciting, fun life, and keep on keeping on, and there's much more to come.' And, I always say, 'Oh, I want to do this when I grow up.' I always have dreams and things that I want to do. And I am a Pisces, so I have this kind of little fantasy of things I want to do," she said. "I like crafts. So I'm always thinking of the new wreath that I want to make or the new art project I want to make. Or how I can improve my life and the people around me, my friends and my family."

Want more RHOBH? New episodes air every Wednesday at 8/7c. 

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