Robert George Kardashian was an American businessman and attorney, best remembered for his role in the 1995 murder trial of former ‘National Football League’ (NFL) player and actor O. J. Simpson. Kardashian gained national recognition his team successfully defended Simpson against two counts of murder. Kardashian was also known for his marriage with television personality Kris Jenner. In 2003, he succumbed to esophageal cancer at the age of 59. Actor-director David Schwimmer played Kardashian in the 2016 ‘FX’ true crime miniseries ‘The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story.’ In 2017, Kardashian was the subject matter in a pilot episode of a comedy series titled ‘Over My Dead Body.’
Childhood & Early Life
Robert George Kardashian was born on February 22, 1944, in Los Angeles, California, USA, to Helen and Arthur Kardashian. His parents, who were of Armenian origin, owned a successful meat-packing company in the US. He grew up in Baldwin Hills, South Los Angeles, along with his siblings, Tom and Barbara.
After graduating from ‘Susan Miller Dorsey High School,’ Kardashian went to the ‘University of Southern California’ from where he graduated with a ‘Bachelor of Science’ degree in ‘Business Administration’ in 1966. He then attended ‘The University of San Diego School of Law’ to earn a ‘Doctor of Jurisprudence’ degree.
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Kardashian practiced law for about ten years before shifting his focus towards business. In 1973, he co-founded a trade publication company called ‘Radio & Records’ (R&R) which he and his business partners sold for a huge profit in 1979.
He pioneered the idea of playing music as fillers in movie theatres and subsequently turned the concept into a successful business by starting a company called ‘Movie Tunes.’ He then served as the CEO and president of ‘Movie Tunes.’
Meanwhile, he befriended O. J. Simpson with whom he started a frozen yogurt company called ‘Juice Inc.’ Kardashian’s friendship with Simpson grew over a period of time as they started many business ventures together, including a music video company called ‘Concert Cinema.’
Kardashian lent his support to Simpson in the wake of the murder of Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend Ronald Goldman. He even let Simpson stay in his home, and started working towards saving his friend from a possible conviction. He was even seen taking away with a ‘Louis Vuitton’ luggage from Simpson’s estate, which many believed could have crucial evidence against Simpson.
When Simpson was brought to trial in 1995, Kardashian got his legal credentials reinstated to work alongside Simpson’s team of lawyers, which included F. Lee Bailey, Robert Shapiro, Johnnie Cochran, Alan Dershowitz, Carl E. Douglas, Shawn Holley, Peter Neufeld, Gerald Uelmen, and Barry Scheck. During the prolonged trial, Simpson’s defense team faced off against prosecutors like Christopher Darden and Marcia Clark.
The trial was among the most publicized events in the legal history of America. Kardashian sat beside Simpson throughout the trial and often visited him in jail. In one of his interviews to ‘Los Angeles Times,’ he said visiting his friend in jail made him sad. He also said that jail is extremely depressing and that it makes him sick every time he walks in.
Simpson was eventually acquitted of all criminal charges in what was considered a controversial criminal trial. Kardashian’s presence in the widely publicized trial not only made him popular, but also increased the subsequent popularity of the Kardashian family.
Kardashian’s friendship with O. J. Simpson eventually faded as the former questioned Simpson’s innocence in a 1996 interview to ‘ABC’ which was subsequently reported by ‘The New York Times.’ In the interview, he said the ‘blood evidence’ was his biggest problem.
Family & Personal Life
Kardashian’s great-grandparents, Saghatel and Harom Kardaschoff, were immigrants from the ‘Russian Empire.’ They were ethnic Armenian Spiritual Christians who had first immigrated to Germany before moving to America. Kardashian’s paternal grandfather, Tatos Saghatel Kardashian, who changed his name to Tom, started a garbage collection business in Los Angeles. His parents, too, were entrepreneurs as they owned a meat-packing company in the US.
In 1975, Robert Kardashian started dating American actress and ex-wife of Elvis Presley, Priscilla. He broke up with Priscilla in 1976 and then married Kris Jenner in 1978. Robert and Kris were blessed with their first daughter, Kourtney, on April 18, 1979. On October 21, 1980, Kris gave birth to their second daughter, Kim Kardashian. Their third daughter, Khloé, was born on June 27, 1984, and their fourth child, Robert Arthur Kardashian, was born on March 17, 1987.
Robert and Kris divorced in 1991. Kris would later confess in her autobiography that she was involved in an affair with former soccer player Todd Waterman when she was married to Kardashian. Shortly after announcing his separation from Kris Jenner, Kardashian started dating Denice Shakarian Halicki. He even got engaged to her before breaking up in September 1994.
Thereafter, he married Jan Ashley in 1998. However, their marriage ended in annulment. Ashley claimed that Robert’s ex-wife, Kris, and their children had played a major role in ending her marriage with him.
Kardashian started a relationship with Ellen Pierson and dated her for three years. He proposed to her in 2001, before marrying her in 2003. However, he did not live long after his third marriage, as he passed away just six weeks after his marriage with Ellen Pierson.
Death & Legacy
In July 2003, Robert Kardashian was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He succumbed to the disease a couple of months later on September 30, 2003. His mortal remains were buried at ‘Inglewood Park Cemetery’ in California, USA.
Actor, director, and producer David Schwimmer portrayed Robert Kardashian in the 2016 ‘FX’ true crime miniseries ‘The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story.’ Schwimmer was nominated for the ‘Primetime Emmy Award’ for his impressive performance. In 2017, Robert Kardashian was the subject matter in a pilot episode of a comedy series titled ‘Over My Dead Body.’
Kardashian’s children - Kourtney, Kim, Khloé, and Rob - went on to become popular television personalities. Their TV series ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ is one of the most popular series around the world.