Who Were Robert Kardashian's Parents? They Started the Family Dynasty

The Kardashian family is a modern-day dynasty, but it all started years ago with Robert's parents, Arthur and Helen Kardashian.

Alizabeth Swain - Author

Apr. 12 2024, Published 4:39 p.m. ET

Robert Kardashian during O.J. Simpson's trial
Source: Getty Images

In a world where the Kardashian name is ubiquitous and synonymous with glitzy reality television, high-fashion runways, and headline-making social media posts, it's easy to forget that the roots of this global phenomenon stretch back to a much more humble beginning.

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The story of Robert Kardashian's parents takes us far from the spotlight, back to a time when their family name was known only within the tight-knit Armenian community they were part of. Helen and Arthur Kardashian's legacy, although less documented by cameras and gossip columns, is equally compelling and serves as a critical piece of the puzzle in understanding how their son Robert would come to play a pivotal role in one of America's most famous entertainment families.

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Who are Robert Kardashian's parents?

Robert was born to Arthur and Helen Kardashian, Armenian-American parents who started a successful meat-packing company in the U.S., per Biography. L.A. Mag shared that Robert's parents fled from the genocide happening in Armenia before the start of World War I.

After developing the successful meat packaging plant, Helen and Arthur built a family home located in Windsor Hills in Vernon, Calif. They had three children together — Robert, Barbara, and Thomas.

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However, discovered that the meat packaging plant that Helen and Arthur owned was shut down by the federal government. While Robert was in school, Thomas was the general manager of the meatpacking plant his parents owned. On March 18, 1974, Thomas bribed U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors and was arrested. Thomas was placed on probation for three years in 1974 and was pardoned by President George Bush in 1993.

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After moving to the U.S. and building a secure life for their children, Helen passed away on May 21, 2008, and Arthur passed away on Dec. 9, 2012. Although their family faced struggles over the years, their son Robert would go on to have a family of his own. His ex-wife and children have created a lasting dynasty in entertainment and business.

Who is Robert Kardashian Sr.?

Robert was a prominent American attorney and businessman, best known for his association with one of the most high-profile legal cases in the U.S. — the O.J. Simpson murder trial in 1994. He worked as a volunteer assistant on the defense team for Simpson. He and Simpson had also been close friends for years. Born on Feb. 22, 1944, in Los Angeles, Calif., Robert carved out a successful career in the legal and business realms long before the trial that would thrust him into the national spotlight.

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Robert Kardashian during O.J. Simpson’s murder trial on May 3, 1995.
Source: Getty Images

Robert Kardashian married Kris Jenner, which started the modern-day Kardashian dynasty.

Per E! Online, Robert married Kris Jenner in 1978 and the couple got divorced in 1991. However, during their marriage, they had four children — Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, and Robert Kardashian Jr. (who goes by Rob). According to People, in July 2003, Robert was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and he died two months later on Sept. 30, 2003, at the age of 59.

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However, Robert had a huge impact on his kids' lives. During Season 13 of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Rob said, "I want to be like my dad," per Yahoo!. Despite Robert's passing, his legacy lives on through his family's continued influence in entertainment and business circles.

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