Why are the Kardashians famous? Who are the reality TV family, how old are they and route to stardom explained

From infamous sex tape and beyond, the route to fame for the Kardashian family has not been smooth

The Kardashian’s are one of the most famous families in the world, with the whole family combined boasting a net worth of over $2 billion. 

When it comes to talking about the Kardashian’s, it doesn’t take long for the question of “Why are they even famous?” to crop up.

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Well, let’s break it down - this is everything you need to know about the Kardashian family, who all the members are and their rise to fame.

The Kardashian and Jenner family tree explained

The Kardashian’s are the family that mother Kris Jenner (née Houghton) and father Robert Kardashian created together, which is:

The Jenner side of the clan is the family that Kris Jenner and Caitlyn Jenner built together, prior to Caitlyn’s transition - the Jenner children are Kendall Jenner and Kylie Kenner.

(L-R) Khloe Kardashian, Lamar Odom, Kris Jenner, Kendall Jenner, Kourtney Kardashian, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Caitlin Jenner and Kylie Jenner (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Yeezy Season 3)

Caitlyn Jenner also has a few other children as well, but generally when someone is referring to the Kardashian family, it’s the previously listed members that they are referring to, as they were the core members of the TV show Keeping Up With the Kardashian’s.

Between all the children under Robert Kardashian and Kris and Caitlyn Jenner, there are 10 grandchildren, which are:

  • Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick’s three children - Mason Disick, Penelope Disick and Reign Disick
  • Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s four children - North West, Saint West, Chicago West and Psalm West 
  • Khloe Kardashian and Tristan Thompson’s one child - True Thompson 
  • Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna’s one child - Dream Kardashian
  • Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott’s two children - Stormi Webster and Wolf Webster (the couple have announced that their son is no longer named Wolf, however they have not yet revealed his new name)

How old is everyone?

This is everyone’s age in the Kardashian and Jenner clan, from oldest to youngest:

  • Caitlyn Jenner, 72
  • Kris Jenner, 66
  • Robert Kardashian, 59
  • Kourtney Kardashian, 42
  • Kim Kardashian, 41
  • Khloe Kardashian, 37
  • Rob Kardashian, 35
  • Kendall Jenner, 26
  • Kylie Jenner, 24
Kim Kardashian and daughter, North West, on March 31, 2017 in Inglewood, California (Photo by Rich Fury/Forum Photos via Getty Images),
  • Mason Disick, 12
  • Penelope Disick, 9
  • North West, 8
  • Reign Disick, 7
  • Saint West, 6
  • Dream Kardashian, 5
  • Chicago West, 4
  • True Thompson, 4
  • Stormi Webster, 4
  • Psalm West, 2
  • Wolf Webster, 2 months

How did the family get famous?

The route to fame for the family is widely credited with that of the second eldest Kardashian daughter, Kim Kardashian, and her infamous sex tape with R&B singer Ray J - but before we get into that story, it’s important first of all to acknowledge that prior to the sex tape, the Kardashian name wasn’t just some totally unknown family.

The Kardashian name was first introduced to the public through their father, Robert Kardashian, an American attorney who gained recognition for his involvement in the highly controversial O. J. Simpson 1995 murder trial as his friend and defence attorney.

Robert and Simpson first became friends when they met at the University of Southern California. Simpson was even Robert’s best man when he married Kris Jenner in 1978.

Following the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman on 12 June 1994, Simpson actually stayed at Robert’s house in order to avoid media attention. During the time of the trial, Robert reactivated his licence to practice law after letting it expire, in order to volunteer assistance to Simpson’s legal team.

Defendant O.J. Simpson consulting with Robert Kardashian and Alvin Michelson during a hearing in Los Angeles, 3 May 1995 (Photo: VINCE BUCCI/AFP via Getty Images)

Despite standing by Simpson throughout the trial, Robert told Barbara Walters in a 1996 ABC interview that he had developed doubts regarding Simpson’s innocence.

He said: “I have doubts. The blood evidence is the biggest thorn in my side; that causes me the greatest problems. So I struggle with the blood evidence.”

Prior to the trial, Robert and his first wife, Kris Jenner (née Houghton), had divorced in 1991 after marrying in 1978. He later married Jan Ashley from 1998 to 1999 and finally his third wife, Ellen Pierson, to whom he remained married until his death.

Robert passed away in 2003, months after he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

What happened with Kim’s sex tape?

The family fame and fortune as we know them today has been widely credited to Kim Kardashian and a sex tape between her and then boyfriend Ray J that was leaked.

She met Ray J when she was working as a personal stylist for the R&B singer’s sister, Brandy. Kim dated Ray J between 2004 and 2006, and it was around 2006 that Kim began making appearances in the media thanks to her role as Paris Hilton’s stylist, assistant and best friend.

Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian at Octoberfest, September 25, 2006 in Munich, Germany (Photo by Thomas Niedermueller/Getty Images)

Kim starred in multiple episodes of Hilton and Nicole Richie’s reality TV show, The Simple Life, and in a 2019 episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Kim said: “I really would wanna do anything for [Hilton].

“She literally gave me a career. And I totally acknowledge that.”

It was the following year, in 2007, that Kim and Ray J’s infamous sex tape was leaked.

Prior to the tape’s release, Kim filed a lawsuit against Vivid Entertainment in a bid to prevent it from getting out. Vivid Entertainment claimed to have purchased the tape from a “third party” for $1 million.

Talking to People at the time, Kim said: “This tape, which was made three years ago, and was meant to be something private between myself and my then-boyfriend is extremely hurtful not only to me, but to my family as well.

“I am filing legal charges against the company who is distributing this tape since it is being sold completely without my permission or consent.”

Ray J at the 2019 Black Music Honors at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre on September 05, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Black Music Honors)

The lawsuit was eventually dropped for a reported $5 million settlement that allowed Vivid to release the tape.

The company distributed the tape, titled Kim Kardashian, Superstar, which showed the couple having sex whilst they were on holiday in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, in October 2002.

Speaking to E! News at the time, Vivid Co-Chairman Steven Hirsch said: “We met with her several times and finally reached a financial arrangement that we both feel is fair.

“We’ve always known we had the legal right to distribute this video, which became an instant bestseller and we’ve always wanted to work something out with Kim so she could share in the profit.”

The family have been criticised over supposedly using the attention garnered from Kim’s sex tape to make the family famous with their new reality TV show Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

When did Keeping Up With the Kardashian’s first start airing?

Eight months after the sex tape fiasco occured, the first episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashian’s aired on E!.

Talking about how the show came into being, Kris Jenner told Hollywood Reporter: “One night, Deena Katz [casting director for Dancing With the Stars] came over for dinner and life was swirling around, and she said, “This is a reality show - I think you should really talk to Ryan Seacrest”. So I did.”

Khloe Kardashian, Caitlyn Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Kris Jenner, Kourtney Kardashian and Robert Kardashian at the Premiere for reality show Keeping up with the Kardashians held at the Pacific Design Center on Octorber 9,2007 in Los Angeles, California (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/ Getty Images)

Seacrest, who served as Executive Producer on the show, said: “Kris told me what she envisioned, and I said, “Let’s send a crew to your house and tape some stuff and then we’ll take a look at it”.”

Seacrest added that after the footage was shot, he was told by development executive Eliot Goldberg: “I think we have something special.”

The show ran for 20 seasons all in all and became one of E!’s most successful programmes - it even spawned 14 spin offs to varying success: Kourtney and Kim Take Miami, The Spin Crowd, Kourtney and Kim Take New York, Khloe & Lamar, Lord Disick: Lifestyles of a Lord, Kris, Kourtney and Khloe Take the Hamptons, I am Cait, Dash Dolls, Kocktails with Khloe, Rob & Chyna, Revenge Body with Khloe Kardashian, Life of Kylie and Flip It Like Disick.

The family announced on instagram in September 2020 that Keeping Up With the Kardashians would be coming to an end, with the last episode airing on 20 June 2021.

What does the family do outside of reality TV?

Aside from starring in a number of reality TV shows, a number of the Kardashian and Jenner family members have embarked on different entrepreneurial journeys.

In June 2017, Kim launched her own beauty line called KKW Beauty and later in that year she also launched KKW Fragrance. In 2019, Kim also released a new range of shapewear called Kimono - Kim later rebranded the shapewear as Skims due to the backlash caused by the original name.

Kim Kardashian at the KKW Beauty launch at ULTA Beauty on October 24, 2019 in New York City (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for ULTA Beauty / KKW Beauty)

Kylie Jenner also has her own cosmetics line, called Kylie Cosmetics and in April 2019 she also debuted her skincare brand called Kylie Skin.

Kendall Jenner has worked as a model since the age of 14 and has appeared on runways for high end designers during New York, Milan and Paris fashion week. She has also starred in campaigns for the likes of Vogue and is a brand ambassador for Estee Lauder.

What is the family up to now?

The Kardashians is a new reality TV show which is very similar to that of the family’s previous show Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

The new show focuses mainly on the lives of the women in the Kardashian and Jenner family - Kourtney, Kim and Khloe Kardashian and Kendall, Kylie and Kris Jenner, however current and ex-partners have also featured in the series, including Travis Barker, Kanye West and Scott Disick. Rob Kardashian will not star in the show.

Kris Jenner at the Los Angeles premiere of Hulu’s new show The Kardashians at Goya Studios on April 07, 2022 in Los Angeles, California (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for ABA)

The Kardashians premiered on Thursday 14 April.

The Kardashian-Jenner clan are currently tied up in a legal battle with Rob’s ex-fiancee Blac Chyna over a $100 million defamation lawsuit.