On Thursday, it will be exactly 20 years since NFL star O.J. Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ronald Goldman were found dead in Los Angeles; it also marks the 20th anniversary of O.J.’s subsequent murder trial, which had a massive impact on American culture.
“In the years since, the lineage of so many cultural phenomena — the 24-hour news cycle, a never-ending stream of reality television shows and many Americans’ unquenchable thirst for celebrity gossip — can be traced to this nearly 16-month span,” The Post’s Kent Babb wrote in a story this week.
Indeed, the trial and its aftermath ushered in a wave of infotainment and a new obsession with Hollywood figures. The people to take advantage of such fascination? Reality TV stars.
There have been hundreds of them, but a handful of very influential ones gained fame and recognition purely because of one last name: Kardashian. The late Robert Kardashian was one of Simpson’s defense attorneys and personal friends, and he became extremely famous in the wake of the trial. As a result, his immediate family’s fame continued to skyrocket years later.
So, here’s a list of 14 reality stars that exist today because of the infamous trial; many in the Kardashian web, but a few who stood out on their own.
Kris Jenner: The ex-wife of Robert Kardashian, Kris was also close friends with Nicole Simpson. Though she was divorced from Kardashian in 1991, the name carried a lot of influence in the years after O.J.’s trial, especially because Kris was connected to so many of the people involved in the worldwide media spectacle. Kris, of course, is the reason E!’s unstoppable “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” series started. Around 2007, a friend suggested that her large, chaotic family would be perfect for a reality show. Kris connected with executive producer Ryan Seacrest and the rest is history.
Kim Kardashian: Robert Kardashian’s second-oldest daughter, she always ran in socialite circles thanks to her wealthy and connected family. That infamous leaked sex tape featuring her and singer Ray J helped boost her popularity, though she’s now more known for her multiple reality shows and multiple marriages.
Bruce Jenner: After Robert and Kris got divorced in 1991, Kris married Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner; they separated last October. The ex-couple has two daughters, Kendall and Kylie. Bruce also has two sons from a previous marriage, Brody and Brandon, who occasionally appear on “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” (We would include Brody on this list, but we’ll give him credit: He found his own reality fame before the Kardashians were really a thing, thanks to rich-guys-go-wild series “Princes of Malibu” in 2005 and MTV’s “The Hills” in 2006.)
Ray J: An R&B singer and sitcom actor, Ray J’s stock went up just by being involved in a Kardashian … enterprise. This led to his VH1 dating show where he tried to find his soul mate, “For the Love of Ray J.” The network later gave him and his sister, singer Brandy, another show, “Brandy and Ray J: A Family Business.”
Kris Humphries: Kim’s ex-husband; maybe an unwilling reality TV character, but the NBA player still appeared in quite a few “Keeping Up With the Kardashian” episodes. And you can’t forget their four-hour, two-part wedding special, “Kim’s Fairytale Wedding: A Kardashian Event.” Their divorce after 72 days left him a punchline for his reality TV stint.
Kourtney Kardashian: Robert’s eldest daughter, got her own spin-offs with her sisters on “Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami,” “Kourtney and Kim Take New York” and “Kourtney and Kim Take Miami.” She’s frequently in the tabloids for being pregnant — seriously, it’s always a big story. She’s got two young children, Mason and Penelope, with a third one on the way.
Scott Disick: The father of Kourtney’s kids, he became a popular “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” character in his own right for his debauchery early on in the show’s run, with frequent unpleasant run-ins with the Kardashian family. He’s calmed down considerably since, but the tabloids love to report on his hard-partying ways and whether he and Kourtney will ever get married. (Still no.)
Khloe Kardashian: The youngest of Robert’s daughters, Khloe was usually in the shadows of her sisters’ scandals and pregnancies: Until she stormed to the front with her own marriage (after one month of dating) to NBA player Lamar Odom.They were rewarded with a wedding special and spin-off, “Khloe and Lamar.”
Lamar Odom: Khloe’s ex-husband; though Lamar got to enjoy some extra fame from his own reality series, all the attention came at a price, as TMZ and the tabloids were relentless with rumors that he had a drug addiction. Three months after he was pulled over for a DUI last summer, Khloe filed for divorce.
Rob Kardashian: Robert’s only son; by far the most reluctant to share his personal life on the show, he gamely deals with the madness of his fame-loving family.
Kendall Jenner: Second-youngest in the Kardashian/Jenner house and frequently appearing on the show, has started leveraging her family name to branch out in the modeling industry and a clothing line with sister Kylie. (Though her first gig presenting at an award show didn’t go so well.)
Kylie Jenner: Youngest in the Kardashian/Jenner house, she’s also started getting more important storylines on “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” and dabbles in modeling.
Faye Resnick: A close friend of Nicole, Resnick penned the universally despised book “Nicole Brown Simpson: The Private Diary of a Life Interrupted.” She became a well-known name during O.J.’s trial. As the New York Daily News puts it, O.J.’s defense team “floated the theory that Nicole’s true killer was a cocaine dealer targeting Resnick,” who was in rehab when the murders occurred. Resnick later appeared on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” making enemies there as well.
Kato Kaelin: Well, the man who became an overnight sensation after his “colorful” testimony at the trial (he was staying in O.J.’s guest house at the time) tried really hard to make it in the industry. He made several attempts at reality fame with “Celebrity Boot Camp” and “Gimme My Reality Show.”