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Before They Were Housewives, These 17 Bravolebrities Worked As…

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Feb. 16 2021, Updated 6:26 p.m. ET

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Which Housewife starred in Escape to Witch Mountain? Who worked as a dishwasher? Plus, who STRIPPED naked for a dollar? Check out what your favorite Bravo reality stars did before becoming famous.

Listen! 'RHOP' star Wendy Osefo breaks down the “most intense fight in the show's history” in under 2 minutes.

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Kim Richards:

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Actress. The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Kim Richards is known for her battle with the bottle was once a successful child actress, appearing in such movies as Escape to Witch Mountain and The Car. After 1990, however, she virtually retired from acting to raise her four kids. Kim’s other claim to fame, along with sister Kyle? They are Paris Hilton’s aunties, as their sister Kathy Hilton is the celebutante’s mom.

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Kandi Burruss:

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Singer: As longtime The Real Housewives of Atlanta fans well know, Kandi Burruss has long been a professional singer! The woman whose feud over the song “Tardy for the Party” with co-star Kim Zolciak made news belonged to the female R & B group Xscape, which had a string of hits in the 1990s. She’s continued her career as a singer, songwriter, and music manager (which has also been seen on her Bravo spinoff, The Kandi Factory).

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Phaedra Parks:

Phaedra Parks

Attorney: As The Real Housewives of Atlanta fans know, Phaedra Parks is a top legal eagle whose firm deals with litigation and contract negotiations for entertainers and athletes, as well as criminal defense. Her high profile clients have reportedly included Michael Jackson, Bobby Brown, and Ludacris. Phaedra has said her job is more than just being an attorney: "Sometimes I'm an accountant, psychiatrist, counselor, friend, voyeur, doctor. I've wrapped bloody wounds."

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Bethenny Frankel:

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Cookie Company Owner: After graduating from the Natural Gourmet Institute, the future The Real Housewives of New York City star turned talk show host established BethennyBakes, a cookie company aimed at health-conscious New Yorkers, in 2001. "I would be the next Mrs. Fields, the next Famous Amos, but the healthy version," Bethenny Frankel wrote in her book, A Place of Yes. After promoting her company on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, Bethenny turned her housewives gig into more TV and business fame (we can’t forget Skinnygirl!).

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Yolanda Foster:

David Foster, Yolanda Hadid, and Charice

Dishwasher: The future The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star’s father died in a tragic car accident when she was just seven years old in The Netherlands; and at age 13 Yolanda Foster worked as a dishwasher in a Chinese restaurant. “From an early age on I had a strong sense of having to provide for my family,” she told the New York Post. But it soon became more glamorous! At 16, the statuesque beauty was discovered by modeling titan Eileen Ford; Yolanda modeled for 15 years before having a family with first husband Mohamed Hadid. After they divorced, Yolanda married musician David Foster.

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Vicki Gunvalson:

Vicki Gunvalson

Construction Company Worker: Before she owned her own life, health, and annuity insurance agency beginning in 1992, The Real Housewives of Orange County’s Vicki Gunvalson worked for her dad’s construction company, doing payroll and bookkeeping. After her first marriage went sour, Vicki began her own business, Coto Insurance & Financial Services. Although Bravo focuses more on Vicki’s plastic surgery and feuds with the other Housewives, Vicki says, “What you don’t see when the cameras are off is a hard working, Midwestern lady who owns an insurance and retirement planning company focused on educating women.”

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Michaele Salahi:

Michaele Salahi

Cheerleader?: The Real Housewives of D.C. star Michaele Salahi, who crashed the White House with her husband, also tried to pass herself off as a former Washington Redskins cheerleader. The blonde bombshell reportedly asked that her name be added to the 1991 roster and she became a dues-paying member of the alumni squad, joining them for performances in 2005 and 2007. However, when she brought her Bravo camera crew along in 2009, and was unable to perform basic cheerleading routines, Michaele’s lie was exposed.

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Teresa Giudice:

Teresa Giudice

Associate Buyer, Macy’s: Before Teresa Giudice and her husband Joe starred on The Real Housewives of New Jersey and became notorious for their legal indictments, she studied fashion marketing and management at Berkeley College. The young Teresa later worked as a contributor for Vogue and then as an accessories buyer for Macy’s department store, according to her Bravo bio. Meanwhile, Joe, her man since high school, has owned various businesses, including a pizza parlor, laundromat, and clothing company.

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Brandi Glanville:

Brandi Glanville

Model: Before being known as the ultimate discarded wife, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Brandi Glanville was a model who started at the tender age of 16. During her 17-year modeling career, Brandi strut her stuff in Paris runway shows, posed for Glamour and Cosmopolitan and worked for the top fashion couture houses Chanel, Giorgio Armani, and Gucci. Brandi lived in Europe but while she was in L.A. working on a Coors Light commercial, she met Eddie Cibrian at a nightclub and eventually gave up her modeling career to marry him and have his two kids. They later divorced.

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Tamra Barney:

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Homemaker: This is one housewife who really was a housewife! Tamra Barney was reportedly a stay-at-home mom for nearly 18 years before pursuing real estate and establishing herself as the “hottest” housewife on The Real Housewives of Orange County. The beautiful blonde raised four kids—oldest son Ryan (from her first marriage), and daughter Sidney, son Spencer, and daughter Sophia (from her second marriage). Tamra recently married for the third time—on Bravo, of course! She and new husband Eddie Judge are now in business together, running CUT fitness studio.

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Melissa Gorga:

Melissa Gorga

Bartender: Teresa Giudice has accused her The Real Housewives of New Jersey co-star and sister-in-law Melissa Gorga of having worked as a stripper, but in 2011, Larry Guarino, Melissa’s former manager at Lookers Gentleman's Club in Elizabeth, N.J., insisted to US Weekly that she actually was a bartender there. Melissa herself wrote on her blog she wasn’t a stripper, and said she tended bar at Lookers during college, wearing, "a tank top, shorts and sneakers."

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Kyle Richards:

Kyle Richards

Actress. Along with her sister Kim, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Kyle Richards began her acting career as a child. In one notable role, she played a child whom Jamie Lee Curtis babysat in the 1978 horror classic Halloween. Kyle also did a lot of television, including an 18-episode stint on Little House on the Prairie and 21 episodes portraying a nurse on ER.

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Sonja Morgan:

Sonja Morgan

Restaurant hostess: According to Starcasm, Sonja Morgan was a hostess at the ritzy Italian restaurant San Pietro in Manhattan, where she met her much older husband John Adams Morgan, heir to the J.P. Morgan fortune. The Real Housewives of New York City star took phone reservations at the restaurant, but later lost her job for reportedly dropping the names of the famous people who came there to a reporter for Quest magazine. No matter! She married Morgan several years later (the pair has since divorced). Sonja said being a rich wife was “a big job. It takes nine months to redo a yacht.” 

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Taylor Armstrong:

Taylor Armstrong

High school cheerleading champ: Before she joined The Real Housewives of Beverly HillsTaylor Armstrong was a cheerleader. Photos have surfaced of Taylor, then known as Shana Hughes, hoisting the trophy for the Tulsa Union High School cheerleading squad after they won a national competition in 1988. Later, she worked as a pharmaceutical rep for Pfizer before marrying investment banker Russell Armstrong, who killed himself in 2011.

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LuAnn de Lesseps:

Luann de Lesseps

Nurse: She’s now TV royalty, but LuAnn de Lesseps, known for her lush life on The Real Housewives of New York City, once worked as a licensed practical nurse in Connecticut. “I knew that nurses were always in demand and that I could have a fulfilling career in the health field," de Lesseps recalled to Forbes.com. “I found that I had an affinity for helping people." But the future reality star, who also was a model, left the nursing gig to marry fabulously wealthy Count Alexandre de Lesseps. They divorced in 2009.

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Camille Grammer:

Camille Grammer

Video Vixen: Kelsey Grammer’s future ex-wife Camille Grammer was a dancer for MTV’s Club MTV featuring Downtown Julie Brown from 1988 to 1992. Then known as Camille Donatucci, the sexy blonde can be seen shaking it in the video for "The Party Starts Now" by heavy metal band Manitoba's Wild Kingdom in 1990. In 1993, she made the move to Playboy; Camille appeared in the magazine 13 times before becoming the Frasier actor’s wife and joining The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

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NeNe Leakes:

NeNe Leakes

Stripper: The Real Housewives of Atlanta star is now the most highly paid Bravo housewife, making an incredible $1 million a year. But her previous career was even more eye-popping -- taking her clothes off for money! NeNe Leakes admitted to Ebony in 2012 that she worked as a stripper in clubs for three years when she was a single mom in her early 20s. “I used the name Holly and then Silk,” NeNe candidly confided. “I thought I made pretty good money. It was a great hustle.”

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