September 22, 2011 01:32 PM by Jackie Morrison
Bethenny Frankel is the latest reality star to be featured on an E! True Hollywood Story special. The breakout star of The Real Housewives of New York discussed her unusual upbringing on racetracks and her complicated mother Bernadette Frankel Parisella Birk. Birk was known for both her beauty and wild emotional reactions that created constant tension at home and family outings. Even childhood and family friends recalled the intensity and meanness that Birk was known for.
As for Bethenny Frankel’s father, Robert, while he raised her for a time after her parent’s divorce the relationship eventually grew cold. Bernadette Parisella (as she was then known) and her second husband John took over custody of Bethenny after their marriage which created the estrangement between Robert Frankel and his daughter.
“It’s not her fault. She was a kid who had a kid,” explained the Skinnygirl mogul who was born on her mother’s 20th birthday.
After Bernadette remarried John Parisella the family moved several times and went through roller-coaster financial experiences. Combined with the vastly changing fortunes, Bethenny Frankel’s mother and stepfather fought constantly. There were times that the police would be called to the house but the next day the couple would be having wild sex in their bedroom. The tension was so destabilizing that at 13 the young Bethenny asked to be sent away to school in Florida. Childhood friends recalled how she was like an orphan with no home to go to.
The biopic went on to describe how the tumultuous relationship continued between Bethenny and her parents. Three days after starting her freshmen year at Boston University Bernadette divorced her second husband. Bethenny’s stepfather shipped all her belongings in boxes to her dorm room. Everything that she owned since childhood was now in a university residence. Eventually she transferred to NYU to study acting.
“I always wanted to be an actress,” said the Reality TV mom. “I didn’t even attend NYU graduation because I was on a plane to L.A.”
Serendipitously, an SVP at a network was sitting beside Bethenny Frankel on that plane and she immediately networked her way into a job as a production assistant.
Unfortunately it was during this time in Hollywood that her body issues resurfaced.
“It was a viscous cycle. Every day I was on a diet,” recalled the natural foods chef.
But by age 25 Bethenny Frankel was done with acting and had begun working as an event planner to pay the bills. In 1996 she married Peter Sussman but fell into a depression.
“I was married to this man I really loved but I could not see myself being married to him forever. I was under the impression that one married their best friend.”
The marriage ended and she lost the family she adored in her in-laws but she quickly began another relationship with a man named Larry. Larry was close to her former husband’s family and a rift was created. That relationship lasted a year before she met her next fiancé, a Chicago trader named Jimmy Oppenheimer.
“We got engaged. I left my life in LA, sold all my furniture and moved to Chicago. I had no friends and no social life. I would cook and think of health foods all day.”
Eventually Jimmy figured out a way to be a trader in New York for less money. It was a big move for him but he did it to prove how much he loved her. Back in New York Bethenny enrolled in the Natural Gourmet Institute. Eventually the engagement with Jimmy ended only for Larry to show up at her front door.
Bethenny Frankel became engaged again to Larry only for it to dissolve.
However, Bethenny had found her passion in baking and her first venture was called Bethenny Bakes. It offered vegan dairy free cookies but it didn’t succeed.
“I was living in a studio apartment and was totally broke. I drove to every single deli in Manhattan trying to sell my cookies.”
But fate changed at a cooking trade show.
“I was selling cookies at a trade show and my partner took a video of me. The video was sent to Donald Trump for The Apprentice. I flew to LA for the casting but didn’t make it. However, the producers had other ideas, such as the Martha Stewart Apprentice show. I was broke and needed this break,” she recalls.
Frankel made it to the final round and was the runner up.
“It was crushing.”
Kevin Mazer, her then boyfriend, helped get Bethenny a publicist while she networked to become a celebrity chef. Like her last relationships, Bethenny and Kevin soon ended. The next guy was Jason Colodne whom she infamously got dumped by on national television.
Back in New York, a chance encounter with Jill Zarin led to her role on The Real Housewives of New York. It was originally called Manhattan Moms and they needed one more cast member. Bethenny Frankel was cast as the underdog.
“I took a risk and agreed to go on the show. I wanted to make a living out of this. It was past the point of trying to be famous.”
Bethenny Frankel at the time had $8000 to her name and lived in a one-bedroom studio on the Upper East Side. She wanted to launch herself as a businesswoman instead of getting facials and buying diamonds with the other housewives. Eventually this lead to the development of the Skinnygirl Margarita and her empire.
Along the way she met Jason Hoppy in a club.
“I was immediately attracted to her,” her husband recalls.
It was an instant connection and a few months later Bethenny Frankel released her book Naturally Thin. It was an immediate success and extended the Bethenny brand. Nine months after meeting Jason Hoppy, Bethenny Frankel was pregnant, then she got engaged, and then she launched Skinnygirl Margarita. All the events were recorded on Bethenny Getting Married and Bethenny Ever After.
The biopic closed with the birth of Bethanny Frankel and Jason Hoppy’s daughter Brynn Hoppy. The final scenes left us with a glimpse of the reality star enjoying the fruits of her success. Although she does have a lawsuit from her former manager to deal with in the near future.
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Topics: Bravo Reality TV Shows, E! Reality TV Shows, The Real Housewives Of New York City |
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