The stunning transformation of Kyle Richards

Of all the women who are part of Bravo's seemingly unstoppable Real Housewives empire, few have proven quite as divisive as Kyle Richards. To some, she's the true queen of Beverly Hills, and to others she's vile (or "Vyle" depending on which comment sections you frequent). Unlike many of the other ladies who have waltzed around 90210 over the years, Richards actually had a career prior to being a reality star. Far from simply leveraging her Housewives fame like some of her fellow co-stars and, for example, naming swimsuits after her fellow cast-mates, she was a self-made woman long before her reality career.

Alongside sisters Kim and Kathy, Richards eked out an impressive career as a child actor before transitioning to more grown up roles. Settling down and starting a family put the kibosh on her time in front of the camera, so Richards made a savvy mom/businesswoman move and got behind it, bringing her own family's story to the masses in the process. Along the way, Richards found time to write a book and become one of the most talked-about Housewives ever. This is the stunning transformation of Kyle Richards. 

Kyle Richards started out on the most famous little house in the world

It may have been small, but the property in which Richards' acting career kicked off also happens to be one of the most well-known in entertainment history. Her first major role, following a couple throwaway, un-credited spots, was as Alicia Sanderson Edwards on beloved show Little House on the Prairie. Richards first appeared in 1975, staying with the show all the way up until 1982, when she was just hitting her teen years.

Ahead of hosting a 17-episode marathon of the beloved show in 2016, Richards gushed to NBC New York about how much fun Little House on the Prairie was to be a part of as a child, comparing it to "going to camp." Richards described the "very fun and loving atmosphere" on set, advising she likes to watch the show with her kids as "it always has a sweet message."

Richards admitted to sometimes being stressed out by our tech-obsessed society, jokingly pointing out how everyone on Little House on the Prairie "was alive and they didn't have a cellphone!"

Kyle Richards didn't catch the acting bug off her sisters

Although both of Richards' older sisters, Kim and Kathy, started acting long before she did (in 1971 and 1970 respectively), performing didn't come naturally to the youngest sibling. In a 2018 interview with San Diego Entertainer magazine, Richards was quick to note how reluctant she'd been to follow in her already-famous sisters' footsteps. The youngster was painfully shy, with her mother pushing her to perform to try to combat it, as well as keeping Richards with her sisters so she wouldn't feel left out.

Richards even admitted that, at her very first audition, she didn't realize what was even really going on. "The guy had on a white jacket, so at the time I thought I was going to a doctor [laughs] and I was so little, so I would get really scared," she recalled. The actress turned reality star is glad her mother pushed her, though, as it did help Richards overcome her shyness. It still comes out sometimes, however. "I still do have that side to me that people don't know about," she revealed. 

Kyle Richards' life growing up was anything but ordinary

Surprising nobody, Richards' family of child actors was anything but normal. As presided over by Kathleen AKA "Big Kathy," the kids were given free reign once they started making their own money. As recapped by All About The Tea, in 2015, Richards revealed on an episode of Real Housewives how she even made her own way to auditions at a young age. "I was driving way before I had a license. My mom was a rule breaker. She did not give a sh*t. ...If she wanted to let me drive to work at 13, she was gonna do it, and she trusted me," recalled the reality star. 

Likewise, Richards explained to the LA Times how she wanted to do right by her mother's legacy in writing her show American Woman. "When my mom passed away, I thought, 'I really wanna share who she was, because she really was a special and unique woman.' And it took my being a mom and an adult to have that extra appreciation for her," the reality star reasoned. 

Kyle Richards is scared of doing more horror movies

Most modern child stars get their start in Disney movies, or other appropriate fare. Not Richards, who kicked things off with a trio of horror movies in the form of Tobe Hooper's (of Texas Chain Saw Massacre fame) killer croc movie Eaten Alive, quickly followed by killer car movie, The Car, opposite James Brolin, and topped off with John Carpenter's seminal slasher, Halloween (more on that below).

In 2013, Richards told Halloween Daily News that Eaten Alive was one of only a couple bad experiences she had as a child actor. "That film really gave me nightmares for I don't even know how long. It was absolutely horrifying making the film. ...It was very disturbing working with method actors. You don't want to work with a method actor who's playing a murderer. Note to self: Don't do that again," she revealed. In fact, Richards acknowledged on Twitter in 2018 that she still hadn't watched the movie, even as an adult.

Kyle Richards surprised this Halloween co-star 40 years later

Halloween was a major moment for Richards. Forty years later, she reunited with co-star Jamie Lee Curtis, who played babysitter Laurie Strode in the classic horror movie, to reminisce ahead of the 2018 reboot. The two ladies got together for an ET special, with Richards surprising Curtis as her interviewer. "I always have that memory of me, on the last day of shooting, of you carrying me all the way back to my dressing room. I've never forgotten that," Richards told Curtis, with the older actress responding, "I have beautiful memories of you."

Although Richards acknowledged she was never scared making the flick, she definitely was after the fact, admitting, "Seeing myself in it was terrifying!" The Real Housewives stalwart actually wanted a role in Halloween 2018, as noted by Us Weekly at the time. "I literally reached out and said, 'Can I be in it in any capacity? I'll be an extra. I'll do anything.' But they didn't think that it was going to fit in with the story or something," she told the publication.

Kyle Richards says her teenage eating disorder will "probably always be with me"

The teenage years tend to be tough no matter who you are, but they're especially difficult for young women to navigate — never mind those who have to grow up in front of cameras. On a 2019 episode of Real Housewives, the reality star revealed how she'd struggled with an eating disorder as a young teen, particularly during the time she was appearing on hit TV shows Down to Earth (which she first starred in at age 15) and Concrete Cowboys (which she started on at just 12).  

As noted by E! News at the time, Richards admitted, "People would compliment me and the more they complimented me, the less I would eat." She elaborated on her comments during an after-show, explaining she didn't want to negatively affect her daughters relationship with food by bringing up her own issues. "It'll probably always be with me. I will never go to the lengths that I did before, but it's, yeah, it's a personality type, honestly. It's a form also of control too. There was a lot of chaos when I was a kid at times, I think this was my way of having control of something," she opined

Kyle Richards totally flubbed her first marriage

When fans of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills think of Richards' relationship, they likely only think of her husband, Mauricio Umansky, of The Agency fame. But she was actually previously married to Guraish Aldjufrie, the father of her eldest child, Farrah. Richards discussed their relationship on an episode of Juicy Scoop with Heather McDonald, noting the two met at a Tina Turner concert when Richards was just a teenager (she even still had braces on her teeth). 

He was five years her senior, but they married and she got pregnant young (she was 19), leaving Richards with this strange new life being a wife and mother. "I struggled with the being married part. Now I've got the wife part down, but that's hard to be a wife at that age," she admitted. The couple parted ways in 1992, after just a few years of marriage. It was a difficult decision, with Richards acknowledging, "Eventually I couldn't do it and I left, and I felt so guilty." 

However, with the benefit of hindsight, the reality star realizes she was simply too young to be married. Thankfully, it all worked out, as she revealed, "We're still friends and he's friends with my husband."   

Kyle Richards changed her outlook on her career after having kids

Richards and Umansky had three daughters together, Alexia, Sophia, and Portia, which she wrote about in a 2010 blog for Bravo noting, "Being a mom is something that I never take for granted. I love each and every moment with my girls." However, motherhood changed the actress's outlook on her career, leading Richards to take a step back into smaller roles. She still made some notable appearances in the likes of ER, Days of our Lives, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation over the years, though. 

Speaking to the LA Times in 2018 about her time on the hit medical show, Richards reflected on the readjustment. "When I wanted to go back to work after having my children, one of my first auditions was for ER, a small part. ...I went in and I got it, and then I said, 'Well, I mean, I don't want to take it because it's such a small part.' ...[But] I went in and I did it, and then I ended up being on there for almost 10 years," she reminisced. 

Mauricio Umansky is the king to Kyle Richards' queen

Richards and Umansky have been loved up for over 20 years, with the reality star even changing religion to marry her man (she was also, er, engaged to somebody else when they first met). As the reality star acknowledged in her Bravo blog, "When I met Mauricio In 1994, everything fell into place. ...He asked me to convert to Judaism, and it was an easy decision. Growing up in Beverly Hills, everyone was Jewish, and I always secretly wanted to be. I loved his family, and most importantly, I was madly in love with him, and he loved both Farrah and me."  

For Umansky's 49th birthday in 2019, Richards took to Instagram to post a collage of photos accompanied by a sweet caption. "Happy birthday to the king of our castle @mumansky18 ...We love you to the moon and back. Thank you for being the sweetest, most patient, loving, generous, hard-working husband & Daddy. I love you more," she wrote. Just a few months previous, Umansky posted his own PDA-filled snap of the couple, writing alongside it, "Decades of Music. Decades with the most amazing companion, person in the world. I love you." 

Here's how Kyle Richards ensures that her kids stay grounded

It's difficult to keep a clear head in Hollywood, but, in spite of growing up there, Richards is adamant her kids won't become spoiled brats. She admitted to San Diego Entertainer it's tough sometimes as, "I don't want to be a broken record with my kids because then they'll stop listening, but I kind of am sometimes. ...We have these long conversations about how if you want something in life you have to focus on it and put it out there, like my mom used to teach me."

When Richards and Umansky first got married they shared a tiny condo with Farrah, so it's important for the reality star to instill the value of money in her daughters. Speaking to E! News in 2014, Richards explained, "I do explain to my children, 'You're very fortunate, not everyone is as fortunate as this' and you know it's very important to give back. They see Mauricio and I giving back, and we take them to things to show them and get involved. So I just think it has to be an open conversation, not just talk about it, but also get out there and see them doing things."  

Kyle Richards is always keeping it real in Beverly Hills

In 2010, lifelong actress Richards turned to the dark side, so to speak, by entering the world of reality television as a cast-member on Bravo's Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Speaking to San Diego Entertainer, Richards admitted to not really understanding what she was getting into, noting, "I didn't realize what the Housewives [franchise] really was when I started doing it. ...I was acting my whole life, and then I had pretty much stepped aside from that to raise my children. When The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills came up, I looked at it as just another gig."

She told Stuff in 2017 that the first couple of seasons were the hardest, admitting, "We didn't know what we were getting ourselves into and when all of this stuff started coming out that was going on in our lives, it was very overwhelming and anxiety provoking. I think people thought we were going to be these fake and foo-foo people, but then they found out that we are real people with very real problems." 

Kyle Richards has done it all and she wrote the book to prove it

The year following her reality TV debut, Richards capitalized on her new gig by publishing the memoir/self-help book, Life is Not a Reality Show: Keeping It Real with the Housewife Who Does It All. She told Huffington Post in 2012 that it came about naturally, as, "I've actually always been — with my girlfriends — the one everyone always came to for advice, and now that I've been on the show I get so many questions on Twitter which is one of the reasons I wanted to write the book. I get a lot of questions like 'How can I get a relationship like the one you have with Mauricio?' or 'How do I find a husband like that?'"

Likewise, speaking to Page Daily around the same time, Richards noted, "I was always known as the dating guru. ...My real inspiration for writing the book is that I want to help women have the best marriage and relationships while looking and feeling their best. If I wanted to write a how-to manual to give to my daughters on having successful relationships, this would be it." 

Kyle Richards is proud to be an American Woman

In 2018, Richards' long-gestating project based on her unusual family upbringing, American Woman, finally debuted on Paramount Network. In an interview with Variety that year, the reality star noted how important it was for her to be involved with the process, producing the show so she could take a real hands on approach. As she explained, "I felt like I needed to be there. Not only do I need to be there to make sure the story's told the way I see it, but also I wanted to learn every step of the way."

The show, which ran for one season, was a passion project for Richards, who saw it as a love letter to her mother. Speaking to People in 2018, she acknowledged that her sisters' apprehension about the show was understandable, but Richards confirmed it wasn't about them. "Everything I have now is because of what my mom did for me. ...I was inspired by my mom, being a single mom in the '70s. It was a crazy, fun, reckless time. But it's not based on my actual life," she clarified. 

Kyle Richards puts her family first, always

In spite of the (minor) drama caused by American Woman, Richards is very clear that the most important thing in the world to her is family. Speaking to People in 2018, she advised, "I love my sisters and I would never do anything to disrespect or embarrass them." However, in the wake of Lisa Vanderpump quitting Real Housewives, rumors swirled that Kyle's sister Kathy Hilton might take her place on the hit show. 

Richards, obviously, loves her sister, but she wouldn't want her to join the cast. According to an insider who spoke to Hollywood Life, in 2019, "Kyle has worked really hard to get to a good place with her sisters... And she knows if Kathy actually were to join RHOBH, it would probably tear their family apart again and hurt their relationship." 

With all the problems Richards had with Kim on the show previously, her hesitance to include Kathy makes a certain amount of sense (Kim Richards had highly-publicized substance abuse issues, leading to onscreen fights and significant hardship for the two sisters over the course of several seasons). 

Kyle Richards takes her rightful place on the throne

Richards has long been seen as the sidekick to Queen Lisa Vanderpump, but in the wake of the restaurant mogul quitting the show, and with it their long-term friendship, it seemed the time was apt for Richards to take her place. During the first part of the Season 9 reunion show, in 2019, which was notably Vanderpump-free, Richards' cast-mate Erika Girardi proclaimed her the true queen (she also doubled down in a subsequent Tweet). As noted in a recap by Reality Blurb, the moment came out of nowhere and fans were divided, to say the very least. 

Twitter took it particularly hard, with certain fans even calling for a boycott. According to a 2019 interview with ET, Vanderpump isn't too pleased her ex-BFF has stolen the crown either, as she thinks the glory should be shared throughout the whole cast. As for Richards herself, well, a source told Hollywood Life in 2019 she's loving her new role. 

She's likely to continue being a divisive reality TV starlet, but there's no denying Richards' achievements from child actor to a loving mother, wife, sister, and successful woman in her own right.