Tragic Details About Denise Richards

On first glance, Denise Richards seems to lead a pretty charmed life. With her ageless beauty, her happy marriage to hubby Aaron Phypers, and her steady career in front of the camera, it's tempting to assume Richards has always had it good. Although she is great at putting on a sunny smile — she is an actor, after all — Denise Richards has endured plenty of loss and heartache throughout her life and career.

From an ugly divorce battle with ex Charlie Sheen, to the loss of her mother, to numerous health scares, Richards has gone through quite a lot. The good news is, she seems to have survived it all relatively unscathed, and is very open about the dark times she's experienced. The '90s sex symbol and mom of three daughters is resilient indeed, appearing on "The Bold and the Beautiful" and "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" in recent years. Read on to find out the tragic details of Denise Richards' life and how she has powered through the pain.

She was typecast early on and missed out on roles

Denise Richards was 15 years old, her family moved from a Chicago suburb to Southern California. After they settled in San Diego County, she set her sights on modeling and acting. She popped up in roles on many popular series such as "Saved By The Bell," "Seinfeld," and "Beverly Hills, 90210" before moving on to films like "Drop Dead Gorgeous," "Starship Troopers," and the very racy "Wild Things."

In the 1998 flick, Richards plays a high school student who is involved in a complicated extortion scheme. The movie, which includes a sex scene in which Richards appears topless, solidified her bombshell status — but this wasn't necessarily a total boon for her career. "There were definitely parts I couldn't get. I couldn't get cast as 'the girl next door' even though that was how I always saw myself. I didn't see myself as a sex symbol. I was a girl from Illinois," Richards told Smashing Interviews.

But even when Richards leaned into her sex appeal, she was criticized. Her performance in "The World Is Not Enough" garnered some unfavorable critiques, as many thought her skimpy wardrobe was silly for a nuclear scientist character. "It broke my heart that people were making fun of me," she told Variety. "If I wore a lab coat and pants and a suit, then [fans] would have been upset, like, 'Okay, why isn't she looking like a sexy Bond girl?'" 

Denise Richards lost her mom to cancer

In 2007, Denise Richards' mom, Joni Richards, died from kidney cancer at the age of 54. Denise was devastated by the loss of her mother, with whom she shared a super tight bond. The actor spoke about their connection during an episode of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" that aired in 2019. "I was so close to my mom. My mom had me when she was 17 years old. We were just best friends," she said. "It was 13 years ago that she passed away, and it's still hard, you know?"

Over the years, Denise has made sure to keep her mom's memory alive. In a heartfelt tribute on what would have been her mom's 68th birthday, Denise shared an Instagram post featuring a pic she took with her sister, their mom, and their children. The caption read in part, "You were always happiest around all of us ... Oh how I miss you and need you more than ever right now. I love you so much." 

Her tumultuous divorce from Charlie Sheen

Denise Richards met fellow actor Charlie Sheen in 2000, began dating him in 2001, and the pair were married by 2002. The couple welcomed Sami Sheen, their first child together, in 2004. The following year, when Richards was six months pregnant with their second child, she filed for divorce from Charlie citing irreconcilable differences. After daughter Lola Rose Sheen was born, the couple briefly reunited but could not make it work. The divorce was very messy, with Charlie's behavior becoming increasingly worrisome as he struggled with sobriety.

By 2007, Richards and Charlie had been declared legally free to wed other people but there were still disputes over custody and other financial matters. When Richards filed for Charlie's overnight visits with the children to be taken away, Charlie's response was snide: "Clearly the mother of my children has no interest in responsible co-parenting when it comes to my relationship with our girls" (via People). Over the years, the drama raged on, and in 2015, Charlie took to Twitter to call her "the worst mom alive" and say she "couldn't act hot in a fire or wet in a pool" (via People). Richards simply responded with "Happy Dad's Day." 

As complicated as their relationship has been, the exes seemingly have figured things out to some degree. In 2022, Richards told Us Weekly, "I'm always in a good place with him."

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Her rocky relationship with daughter Sami Sheen

In September 2021, Denise Richards' daughter Sami Sheen announced on TikTok that she had moved out of her mother's house, dropped out of high school, and was happier living with her father, Charlie Sheen. In the TikTok, Sami referred to Richards' home as "the hell house" and claimed to have been "trapped in an abusive home." An unnamed source denied the allegations to Page Six, stating, "Denise loves her daughter very much and she's saddened by the situation." On a February 2022 episode of "Jeff Lewis Live," Richards said her daughter took issue with her household's rules. 

Their relationship stayed rocky for some time, but in March 2022, the "Bold And The Beautiful" actor posted a sweet birthday tribute to Sami on Instagram. "I love you so much. Privately many more words to share with you," she wrote. "I love you unconditionally and I am very blessed & grateful to be your mom." The mother and daughter reunited for Mother's Day that year and things have been looking up ever since.

When Sami launched her OnlyFans page in June 2022, her parents did not see eye to eye at first. In a statement to E! News, Sami's father made it clear he did not approve of the 18-year-old's decision, whereas Richards set up an account of her own and did a photo shoot for the site with Sami. It wasn't long before Charlie changed his tune, telling Us Weekly he's supportive of his daughter's decision.

Denise Richards' second wedding was bittersweet

Denise Richards and Aaron Phypers tied the knot in 2018, in a beautiful ceremony that was captured on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." While Richards and Phypers were over the moon with joy, the day found Richards missing her mom very much. However, she could feel her mother with her in spirit. "What you didn't see on the show was a dragonfly that flew around us during the whole ceremony. My friend Natalie jumped up and said, 'That's her mom!' I felt it was her too," Richards penned in her Bravo blog. "Behind us when we were pronounced husband and wife dolphins were jumping out of the ocean. My mom loved dolphins, and I felt it was another sign from her that she was there."

There was another aspect of the event that ended up being bittersweet, as it was the last time Richards would see her father's fiancée. Irving Richards, who was married to Denise's mom when she died of cancer, lost his fiancée Deb to cancer shortly after his daughter's wedding. The reality star posted a family pic on Instagram from the nuptials wherein she has her arm around Deb, writing, "This was the last time I saw her, sadly she passed away a month after our wedding. She brought a lot of light into my dad's life since losing my mom." The post garnered sympathetic comments from "RHOBH" alum Camille Grammer and cast member Dorit Kemsley.

Rumors about her sex life and RHOBH drama

Fans of Denise Richards know that the actor is not exactly shy. She is active on social media, posting lots of selfies and pics of her family and pets, and even has an OnlyFans page with hundreds of thousands of likes. On "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," she prided herself on being an open book, but it wasn't all smooth sailing. "My openness definitely bit me in the a** a bit," she said in The Washington Post.

On Season 10 of "RHOBH," series alum Brandi Glanville alleged she not only had an affair with Richards, but was made to believe Richards and Aaron Phypers had an open arrangement. "If I had an open marriage, I would be open about it," Richards told The Washington Post. While she vehemently denied Glanville's claims, Glanville doubled down, making some lewd remarks about Richards. Glanville was even uninvited to the "RHOBH" Season 10 reunion because of her comments. It came as no surprise that Richards left the show after that season, reportedly sending cease and desist letters to cast members and to Bravo.

But rumors kept swirling, with Housewives from other franchises getting in on the action. Quite literally, as "The Real Housewives of Orange County" star Tamra Judge claimed that Richards hit on her at a BravoCon event back in 2019. Sources close to Richards denied Judge's claim.

Denise Richards' multiple health scares

Along with the drama that comes along with being on a reality show, Denise Richards also had to deal with multiple health issues in recent years. In 2019, Richards spoke about her enlarged thyroid and how fans of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" recognized the signs. "I was like, 'Why does my neck look bigger?' I had other symptoms, but I just kept ignoring it and finally when a couple people pointed it out I was like, I have to look into it," Richards explained on the "Daddy Issues" podcast. According to Richards, a change in diet has kept her thyroid in check, and she's grateful to the Bravo watchers who looked out for her.

While Richards' enlarged thyroid turned out to be relatively manageable, the actor suffered another health setback which led to her needing surgery. In December 2019, Richards took to Instagram to let fans know she'd had a major health scare that required her to have four different hernias repaired. She explained that she'd tried to push through the pain she'd been experiencing, but she should have listened to her body. "I thought the pain and my other symptoms would just go away. They did not and got a lot worse," Richards wrote. The "RHOBH" alum also credited husband Aaron Phypers with helping her to heal. "I need to actually thank him for taking such great care of me," she said in her post.

In 2020, Denise Richards lost a beloved pet

Denise Richards is no stranger to loss, and, sadly, tragedy struck again in 2020 with the death of her pug, Henry. The actor and animal activist shared the news with fans via Instagram. Her post featured a carousel of sweet pics of Henry with the sad news. As part of a lengthy caption, Richards wrote, "I'm gutted & devastated. He was 15 yrs old & has been there for our family during the good times & the challenging times...unconditionally." She went on to say that the beloved dog was the last in her family to know her mom, adding, "now he is with her & his siblings that have passed before him."

Richards also posted a photo of her dog Jasper lying in Henry's bed, with the caption, "Jasper is missing Henry." She went on to thank her hubby for his help, writing, "you kept Henry here & healthy a lot longer & we knew he would let us know when it would be time to cross the rainbow bridge." 

The reality star is a longtime animal lover and her family's fur babies prove it. At one time Richards had a horse, a pot-bellied pig, ducks in her duck pond, a cat, and many canine pals.

Her daughter Eloise Richards has a rare disorder

Along with daughters Sami Sheen and Lola Sheen, Denise Richards is also mom to Eloise Richards, who she adopted in 2011. In 2019, Denise revealed that Eloise, who was 8 years old at the time, had been diagnosed with a rare chromosomal disorder. "She wasn't able to sit up on her own for a very long time, and she didn't start walking until she was 2, and that was with physical therapy," the actor shared with People. Eloise's speech is also limited. 

Caring for Eloise, whose official diagnosis is Chromosome 8, Monosomy 8p, comes with a very specific set of challenges. "I'm learning every day because they don't really have a road map for her particular case," Richards told People. On "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" Season 9 reunion, Richards shared that Eloise was diagnosed when she was around 6 years old. "It was a very difficult thing to diagnose, she went through a lot," she said. 

Eloise is clearly so loved by her mom and mom's hubby, Aaron Phypers. And Eloise has a special bond with Phypers, which led to an amazing Father's Day surprise. In June 2020, Richards revealed on Instagram that her youngest daughter had recently said the word "dad" for the very first time.

Someone shot at Denise Richards' truck

While on the way to film a project in Los Angeles in November of 2022, Denise Richards and Aaron Phypers' truck was shot at in what appeared to be a bizarre road rage incident. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but the experience left Richards understandably shaken. A source told People that a maroon and gold van was apparently following the couple on the road, then the assailant accused Phypers of cutting him off. Things escalated and Phypers drove away, but then he and Richards noticed the back of their truck had been shot.

The following February, Richards recounted the incident on "Jeff Lewis Live." While it was originally reported as a road rage attack, Richards suspected there was a little more to it. "Honestly, we were at the wrong place at the wrong time, wrong area, and I believe that they thought we were someone else," she said.