Kyle Richards Opens Up About Her Dad Divorcing Her Mom: 'She Didn't Even Have a Checkbook'
It’s safe to say that Kyle Richards didn’t experience your average childhood.
In fact, the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star has so many stories to tell that she decided to develop and produce a TV series called American Woman, centered on and loosely inspired by the life of her late mother Kathleen Richards.
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Appearing on Megyn Kelly Today to promote the show on Tuesday, Richards opened up about one of the plot points of the very first episode: how her mother found out that her husband — Richards’ father — was cheating on her.
“At that time, my mom was all of a sudden suddenly single,” she said. “She didn’t know about money or what they had — she didn’t even have a checkbook. So when I was actually 10 years old, my mom got me a checkbook and I was allowed to have my ‘unemployment checks’ from my TV shows.”
“She opened a checking account for me,” she continued. “She wanted me to take control and learn from a young age how to look after myself, because she didn’t like finding herself in that position in the ’70s. … It’s not easy being a single mom, whether you’re in the ’70s or today!”
In fact, Richards said the entire series is “a love letter” to her mother.
“My mom was a very strong, outspoken woman and in that time, women weren’t supposed to be like that,” she said. “Now it’s like, ‘boss lady’ — that’s a term now. But in the ’70s, if you were strong and opinionated and outspoken, it was looked down upon. And my mom was that woman — very strong.”
“I did not have a conventional life growing up at all,” she continued. “In addition to being a child actor, it was just a very different upbringing. When my mom passed away, I was reflecting on her and I love to write, so I would write stories about her and growing up. I thought, ‘I really want to make this into a TV show one day.’ And here we are.”
Richards, 49, also touched on the tensions that arose with her older sister Kathy Hilton, 59, after Hilton got the impression that the show would be too personal.
“I mean, all families go through stuff,” she said. “We’re sisters, we love each other. She hasn’t seen the show, so I’m excited for her to see it. It is inspired by [our childhood], it’s not autobiographical, so she’ll see that.”
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Speaking to PEOPLE last month, Richards said she would “never tell anyone else’s stories” and certainly “would never do anything to disrespect or embarrass” her sisters.
“I hope when Kathy sees the show, she’ll understand,” she said. “I felt bad because she thought it was something that it wasn’t. 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.”
“Every family has their moments, but we’ll be fine,” she added. “I love my sisters, and that’s all that matters.”
American Woman premieres Thursday at 10 p.m. ET on Paramount Network.