The Untold Truth Of Bethenny Frankel

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

After being crowned the runner-up on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, Bethenny Frankel landed a gig on Bravo TV's The Real Housewives of New York. Cameras followed her around as she looked for love in the Big Apple and worked on becoming a natural foods chef. The world wasn't quite ready for her healthy baked goods, but she hit an entrepreneurial home run when she debuted her first low-calorie margarita. Skinnygirl Cocktails was born, and Frankel was well on her way to creating a multi-million dollar lifestyle brand.

Viewers of RHONY watched in awe as Frankel's life did a complete 180. She put her single days in the rear-view mirror when she married pharmaceutical sales executive Jason Hoppy in 2010, and she gave birth to their daughter, Bryn, that same year. Though her marriage didn't work out, her business acumen and reality television career continued to excel.

While most of her day-to-day life has been captured by cameras, there's still so much about this vibrant, quick-witted, and business savvy entrepreneur that most people don't know. An erratic childhood meant she grew up in a financially unstable environment, but when life gave her lemons, this woman grabbed the tequila and salt. Let's raise a glass as we toast to the untold truth of Bethenny Frankel.

An entrepreneur at heart

Bethenny Frankel was raised by her mom, Bernadette Birk, and after her father, a horse trainer named Bobby Frankel, abandoned the family when she was only 4 years old, another horse trainer named John Parisella reportedly stepped up to the plate as her step-father. But life was anything but easy. 

"I grew up around a racetrack where there was a lot of feast or famine and gambling," she told InStyle. She said her upbringing was characterized by "money noise" — meaning, her childhood bedroom was completely decorated, but the rest of their house had no furniture. "The dining table was literally a card table, and my stepfather would be asking me to break into my piggy bank to cover his bets. But then at the same time, we'd have multiple cars in the driveway," she said.

Bethenny reportedly hit the workforce at an early age, landing multiple jobs to support herself. She began honing her business skills at an early age, throwing parties in high school and charging her fellow students for admission. 

From zilch to a four-figure RHONY salary

Prior to joining The Real Housewives of New York, Bethenny Frankel completed her studies at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City. However, she wasn't living the high life that many of her RHONY co-stars were accustomed to.

Not only was she not even making a steady salary when she snagged the role on the hit Bravo series, but Frankel reportedly had only $8,000 in her bank account and a $2,600 monthly rent payment — small potatoes compared to the other housewives. In order to make ends meet, she consolidated all of her debt after graduation and slowly but surely chipped away at the figure. "I walked everywhere except at night," she told Acorns. "I didn't go out to dinner unless someone else was paying, and I hustled by cooking for people and selling items in my closet. I would always find ways to work for extra cash."

Even though RHONY opened up a lot of doors for her, being cast on the show didn't necessarily catapult Frankel into a lavish lifestyle — at least, not initially. In fact, according to TIME, she made only $7,250 for the first season of the show.

Drink. Binge. Repeat

Even though she promoted healthy eating habits in her 2009 book, Naturally Thin: Unleash Your SkinnyGirl and Free Yourself from a Lifetime of Dieting, Frankel revealed to Redbook magazine (via Us Weekly), that she wasn't always living a health-conscious lifestyle. "I used to get drunk and binge on everything in the deli, and then do a juice fast or starve, then do it all over again," she said.

It wasn't until she became pregnant with her daughter, Bryn, that she realized she needed to switch things up and make some positive changes, despite the naysayers who tried to sway her. "When people find out you're pregnant, they're like, 'Oh, my God, you're going to gain all this weight, and you're going to get hemorrhoids, and you're not going to be able to go to the bathroom,'" she said. "I didn't listen to anyone; I knew I was going to do it my way."

Celebrity nanny

Long before she was interviewing elite Hollywood superstars on her since-canceled talk show, Bethenny Frankel was employed by the rich and famous. One of her first high-profile jobs came during a chance meeting with Kyle Richards – long before Richards became a cast member on another Bravo series, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

During an episode of Frankel's self-titled talk show (via Radar Online), Richards appears as a guest and discusses their first meeting at a restaurant where Frankel was working as a hostess. After Richards realized Frankel was dating her ex-boyfriend, and following some intense bonding over Lancôme eye makeup remover, the two hit it off. "Then I got her a job with my sister [Kathy Hilton] driving Paris and Nicky to school," Richards says on the talk show.

Frankel, Richards, and the rest of the Hilton clan have remained chummy throughout the years. Frankel even rang in New Year's Eve 2018 with the ladies, who she described as a group of "strong, beautiful women."

Behind the scenes at Bayside High

If Bethenny Frankel had it her way, she'd be headlining prime-time shows and showing off her acting prowess in major blockbuster films. "I wanted to be one of those actors or celebrities," she told her talk show audience (via Us Weekly). "They looked like they were having so much fun." 

But instead of being in front of the cameras — where she thought she belonged — Frankel worked behind the scenes as a production assistant on the '90s cult classic Saved by the Bell. In fact, she pulled some strings and got Saved by the Bell alumnus Mario Lopez – the actor who played hunky heartthrob A.C. Slater — to appear on her since-canceled talk show. Lopez let the audience in on a little secret while he was there. 

"Bethenny was so sweet and so cool with everybody" while working on the sitcom, he said, "but I had a little crush on her!" Ooh la la!

Her on-again, off-again boyfriend's death

Frankel has allowed cameras to record her various dating woes. There was her first on-camera relationship with the fickle Jason Colodne – she pressured him to propose but got dumped instead. Then, there was her disastrous marriage to Jason Hoppy. Before their divorce was finalized, she reconnected with an old friend she'd known since 1988, Dennis Shields (pictured, right). Back in the day, he dated and married one of her high school pals, according to Fox News, and after he and his wife separated, things with Frankel heated up.

"I love him, I care about him and he's amazing," Frankel told People in 2016, but their relationship would be full of constant makeups and breakups. 

In a follow-up interview with People in 2018, Frankel said, "[I've] been on and off in my relationship for so many years that I don't love to get too into it in public, not because I'm hiding anything, more so because I never know exactly where it is, because it's ever-shifting."

Sadly, Shields died of an apparent oxycodone overdose in his Trump Tower apartment on Aug. 10, 2018, reported TMZ. Following his passing, Frankel shared a sweet picture of Shields and her dog, Cookie, who passed away in October 2017, lying side by side in bed. "Rest In Peace my sweet babies who gave me endless unconditional love. #nowandforever," her Instagram caption read.

She's a two-time divorcée

When Frankel tied the knot with Jason Hoppy (pictured), many people assumed it was her first time becoming a blushing bride. However, the Skinnygirl maven shocked fans when she admitted to Life & Style (via the New York Daily News) that she had been married before.

Her first husband was a man named Peter Sussman, and he and Frankel were reportedly friends for five years before she finally let him out of the friend zone. After a two-year courtship, they got married at the Four Seasons hotel in Los Angeles in 1996. Alas, that union seemed doomed from the start. 

"I felt like, 'This is really it? This is the person I'm going to spend the rest of my life with?'" she said. "You can't go to bed with a piece of 8-by-10 paper." Ouch! "I loved him because of how much he loved me. I got married too young. I didn't wait for the great love of my life." According to People, their marriage lasted only eight months.

Sleep trumps all

Bethenny Frankel gradually expanded her empire to include not just cocktails, but shapewear, kitchen appliances, and denim, too. With so much going on in her professional life, one would think this woman would be waking up with the birds to get her day started, but that's simply not the case. 

"I'm not getting up at 6:30 in the morning to work out. Sleep is number one in my book," she told E! News. Calling sleep "the most valuable commodity," the yoga aficionado explained, "[Sleep] is more important than money, it is more important than working out, it is more important than anything. So I'm not waking up really early to get a workout in, I work out when I can."

If countless hours of sleep will help us acquire washboard abs like Frankel, then someone pass us a pillow and blanket!

A master negotiator

Bethenny Frankel's ability to continue winning in the business world is thanks, in large part, to one of her most outstanding traits. 

"I'm a good negotiator," she told CNBC's Make It. Let's talk about the amazing deal she negotiated during her first season contract with The Real Housewives of New York. Frankel was reportedly the only cast member who "put in my contract [that] anything I ever do, I own." 

According to TIME, the "Bethenny clause" allowed the reality star to make business moves that would solely benefit her in the long run. How did she pull that off? "I like to come in and say what I want something to be, what I'm looking for, what I want to pay for it or be paid for it — and not go that far from that center," she told Business Insider.

That strategy really came in handy when Frankel decided to sell Skinnygirl Cocktails for more than $100 million in March 2011. Now that's what we call making money moves!