All members of the Kardashian clan have talked about how Robert Kardashian Sr. affected their lives, even years beyond his passing. Kim Kardashian still considers her father, Rob, her “guide” nearly two decades after his death. To learn more about the Kardashian patriarch’s life and premature death, keep reading.
Robert Kardashian Was a Lawyer
The father of Kim, Kourtney Kardashian, Khloé Kardashian and Robert Kardashian was launched to fame while he served as the defense attorney to O. J. Simpson during the athlete’s 1995 murder trial as part of what would be called the “Dream Team.”
Rob and Simpson were longtime friends, having met around 1967 while attending the University of Southern California. While the former NFL player played for the USC Trojans, Robert served as the waterboy. Simpson was the best man at Robert’s wedding to Kris Jenner (née Houghton).
Following the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson, Simpson’s ex-wife, on June 12, 1994, the former San Francisco 49er stayed at the home of Robert and Kris to avoid the media. Robert was seen carrying Simpson’s garment bag, which prosecutors believed contained bloody clothes or a murder weapon. The attorney reactivated his license to practice law to volunteer in aiding Simpson’s legal team, which also consisted of Robert Shapiro and Johnnie Cochran. As a result, he could not be subpoenaed to testify against his friend.
Simpson was charged with the murders of his ex-wife and her friend Ronald Goldman and ultimately acquitted of all criminal charges in the widely publicized criminal trial.
In 1996, Robert revealed during an interview with Barbara Walters that he had doubts about Simpson’s innocence. The pair no longer spoke to each other. Kris has since voiced regrets about not noticing the red flags toward the end of her friend Nicole’s life.
“At the end of Nicole’s life, I think she finally was at a place where she knew she had to be more vocal with what was going on and she was in trouble,” Kris said in an LMN documentary in 2015. “The one thing she would tell all of us by the time, you know, it got to that level was, ‘He’s going to kill me and he’s going to get away with it.’”
He Was a Business Man
After practicing law for around ten years, Robert shifted his focus to business. In 1973, he cofounded the trade publication “Radio & Records” and sold it at a large profit in 1979. He also started a company called Movie Tunes after pioneering the idea of playing music between movies in theaters. He also invested in Juice Inc, a frozen yogurt company with Simpson, as well as “Concert Cinema,” a music video company.
He Was a Family Man
Beyond the O. J. case, Robert is likely most famous for being the father of Kourtney, Kim, Khloé and Rob, whom he shared with his first wife, Kris. His children often share posts dedicated to him and continue to speak highly of their father.
“18 years ago was the worst day of my life. But I know [you] see and guide,” Kim shared on September 30, 2021, 18 years following Robert’s death.
“Love never dies,” she added. “Love [you] daddy.”
Kanye West, Kim’s estranged husband, even surprised Kim with a hologram of her late father for her 40th birthday in 2020.
“I am so proud of the woman that you’ve become, Kimberly, and all that you accomplished. But most impressive is your commitment to become a lawyer and carry on my legacy. It’s a long and a hard road, but it’s worth it and I’m with you every step of the way,” the hologram said. “The most beautiful thing that I have witnessed is watching you grow your family. You married the most, most, most, most, most genius man in the whole world: Kanye West. You are the most, most, most, most, most amazing mother to your four beautiful children and they are perfect.”
He Wasn’t Married to Kris When He Died
Kris and Robert were married from 1978 until their divorce in 1991. Kris admitted in March 2020 that cheating on Robert with now showrunner of VeggieTales, Todd Waterman, was her “biggest regret,” and it led to the end of their marriage.
Following his separation from Kris in 1991, he became engaged to his third cousin Denice Shakarian Halicki, but they never married. In 1998, he married Jan Ashley, which ended in an annulment after 30 days. He dated Ellen Pierson for three years before proposing in 2001. They married six weeks before his death.
He Died of Cancer
In 2003, Robert was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He died two months later on September 30, 2003, at the age of 59. The sudden death shocked his family; he didn’t smoke or drink and there was no history of cancer in his family.
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“It was so surreal, the knowledge he had cancer was one thing, but to think it would actually take his life, I never in a million years thought that would happen to him,” Kris said in a 2014 interview.
“He never spoke about [the O.J. Simpson trial],” Khloé said in 2016 on Kocktails With Khloé. “My dad died of throat cancer which does not run in my family. My dad doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink. I think holding in secrets [and] stress kills you! I feel like you manifest things, you have to think — I’m into symbolic situations.”
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