The Transformation Of Kathy Hilton From Child Star To Age 62

Kathy Hilton has been in the public eye for pretty much her entire life. While she is best known as mom to celebrity socialites Paris and Nicki Hilton, the Hilton matriarch is part of an acting family and got her start as a model and child actress in the 1960s.

Her life has been well documented. Hilton's sister Kim Richards has shared throwback photos from their childhood on Instagram featuring eldest sister Kathy looking picture perfect while posing with a doll or a stuffed bunny when they were kids. And her youngest sister Kyle produced "American Woman," a short-lived television series that was based loosely on the sisters' lives growing up in L.A. with a single mom in the 1970s.

Fast forward five decades and Hilton is now a "Real Housewife," albeit not the diamond-carrying kind. She told Vogue in May 2021 that she has no problem being a den mother of sorts to her younger castmates as they deal with their personal drama on camera. "I would have loved to have been a psychiatrist or therapist. I really do like helping people walk through it," she told the outlet. Keep reading to learn more about Kathy's transformation over the years.

Kathy Hilton was a baby model and child actress

In the early 1960s, "baby" Kathy Hilton posed for an ad for a Dial soap campaign. Her daughter Paris even shared the vintage ad on Instagram. According to IMDb, by the time she was 11 years old, Hilton started to rack up a bit of an acting résumé just like her kid sisters. Her first professional credit came in 1970 when she appeared in the ABC fantasy sitcom, "Nanny and the Professor," which also starred her sister Kim. In 1971, Hilton popped into another ABC fantasy sitcom to play Robin Silverton in a "Bewitched" episode titled "TV or not TV."

She also logged guest roles in some of the biggest TV shows of the era, including "Family Affair," "The Rockford Files," the Saturday morning kids' show "Sigmund and the Sea Monster," and "Happy Days," where she played one of the bandmates in the iconic all-girl rock group, Leather and the Suedes. 

Hilton ended her acting career in 1979.

Kathy Hilton married Rick Hilton in 1979

The end of Hilton's acting career coincided with the same year she married hotel heir Rick Hilton. The new Mrs. Hilton looked like a young Martha Stewart in a throwback photo she shared to Instagram that showed her cutting a cake in her first apartment with her husband. During her days as a young bride, Hilton started working at the Waldorf Astoria and later ran a gift shop, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The couple went on to welcome four children together. Future celebutante Paris Whitney Hilton was born in 1981, and two years later, the Hiltons' second daughter, Nicholai "Nicky" Olivia Hilton, was born. After the wealthy couple took a baby-making break, son Barron Nicholas Hilton II joined the family in 1989, followed by their fourth and final child, Conrad Hughes Hilton III, who was born in 1994, per Distractify.

In a 2012 interview with Haute Living, Hilton said her famous family has remained humble despite their wealth and fame. "Just like any other family, we have our disagreements sometimes," she said. "We spend a lot of quality time together, with BBQs, cooking together, we hike together etc. I'm kind of the one that everybody comes to, and I do love it."

Kathy Hilton had a long friendship with Michael Jackson

Hilton's transformation from a young actress to a mom can be seen in her tributes to her late friend Michael Jackson. Her friendship with the "Thriller" singer dated back to their high school days in the 1970s, and in the late 1980s during his "Bad" heyday, she posed with her husband and young daughters as they met the singing superstar backstage.

Hilton talked about her friendship with Jackson on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight" in May 2011. "We met when I was 13 and he was 14 and developed a friendship and a bond throughout the years," she said. "And we always kept in touch. And then when I moved to New York and he would come, and we'd always go to his concerts."

Hilton dished that she and Jackson used to make prank phone calls together when they were kids. She ultimately ended up spending quality time with the music legend in the months just before his death in 2009, as they were both staying at the Bel-Air Hotel in Los Angeles for extended periods of time. Hilton regularly posts Instagram tributes to Jackson.

Kathy Hilton was an entrepreneur by the 1990s

In the 1980s and early '90s, Hilton owned a popular gift and antique store called the Staircase on Sunset Plaza. In a more recent interview, she told the Los Angeles Times that home décor is her forte, especially during the holidays. "I like adding personal touches," she told the outlet of her Christmas tree, which featured her own baby shoes hanging from the branches. "I love to decorate the table and put garlands around the food. I use little pomegranates or nuts and spray paint them gold or silver, and tiny bouquets of flowers that I tie with pieces of velvet or ribbon that I collect."

Hilton's knack for peddling home décor goods spawned partnerships with QVC and HSN, per Hollywood Life

By 2012, Hilton was designing party dresses that were sold at upscale department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom. "I didn't go to school for this, but I love fashion," she told the Times.

Kathy Hilton returned to TV in the 2000s

While her main "job" titles are mom, philanthropist, and entrepreneur, Kathy Hilton has returned to her TV roots in recent years. In 2008, she guest-starred on "The Young and the Restless," playing herself on an episode of the CBS daytime drama. At the time, Extra shared a statement from CBS explaining that Hilton would be "stopping in Genoa City to help good friend Jack Abbott [Peter Bergman] find the perfect model for his new magazine, Restless Style."

Hilton also hosted the TV competition "I Want to Be a Hilton" and made cameos on her daughter Paris's reality show "The Simple Life," her sisters Kim and Kyle Richards' reality show, "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," and her longtime pal La Toya Jackson's "Life With La Toya," per IMDb.

Despite her résumé on both scripted and reality TV, Hilton has said she doesn't really watch television or go to the movies. "I'm not a TV person or a movie person," she told Haute Living in 2012. She added that she did watch the first season of her sisters on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." "People love to be a fly on the wall," she said of the Bravo reality show's success. "There is certainly an appetite for it and it doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon. "

Kathy Hilton is all grown up as a part-time Housewife

While she's not a "TV person," Kathy Hilton is a TV star. In 2021, she joined the cast of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," and fans can't get enough of her hilarious one-liners and stunts. The 62-year-old mom of four has become a breakout star on the 11th season of the Bravo reality show despite only joining as a "Friend" of the cast and not a full-time cast member. 

Hilton told Variety that "RHOBH" producer Alex Baskin asked her to do the show, and "he would not let up." She ultimately joined the cast to spend more time with her sister Kyle Richards.

While she hasn't totally ruled out returning for Season 12 of the long-running reality show, Hilton told Entertainment Tonight she has no interest in joining the show as a full-time cast member. "I will never hold a diamond, ever, that I can tell you," she said. "I have a lot on my plate right now and working on some interesting, exciting things. I wouldn't have time."