Former The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Lisa Vanderpump leads a life full of glamour, wealth, and success. From hobnobbing with celebrities to running successful restaurants like Sur and Pump, many people would agree that the mogul has it made. But behind-the-scenes, Vanderpump has had to deal with numerous heartaches and tragedies throughout the years.
Vanderpump’s struggle eventually became so intense, in fact, that she decided to leave RHOBH in June 2019 due to the stress. “I’m glad it’s all over,” she told Hollywood Life at the time. “It was a horrible year for me personally and professionally working in that situation, so moving forward now may be time for this.” Woah, sounds tough.
Given Vanderpump’s surprising exit from the show (she was its star for almost nine years), it’s understandable fans want to know more about her “horrible” year and the difficult events leading up to those harrowing 365 days. Grab the nearest box of tissues and let’s unravel the details of Lisa Vanderpump’s tragic real-life story.
Lisa Vanderpump's brother's sudden death
Lisa Vanderpump’s life took an especially devastating turn when her older brother, Mark Vanderpump, reportedly committed suicide in April 2018. The reality star discussed the heartbreaking death the following year, telling Us Weekly that her sibling’s unexpected death was “very, very, very tough” and that she “[managed] to try to pull [herself] together with grief counseling and antidepressants.” She added, “I’ve never taken anything in my life, you know, I’ve never been to therapy in my life, but I think slowly I’m in a lot better place than I was.”
As for the circumstances surrounding Mark’s death, Vanderpump said the suicide was accidental. “I know my brother well enough to know my brother didn’t mean to do this,” Vanderpump shared (via People) “It was a cry for help that went horribly wrong. There’s a lot of people who say taking a life is selfish, [but] I’ve never felt that.”
Vanderpump depended on work to see her through the tragedy, explaining: “[Work] is the best distraction. It’s just that every time someone brings it up, I feel more emotional. I’ve managed to compartmentalize it and put it down to a horrible time in my life and moving on.”
We wish Vanderpump and her family nothing but the best going forward — losing a loved one is never easy.
Herd mother died shortly after her brother's passing
A little over a year after Lisa Vanderpump’s brother died from an accidental suicide, her mother, Jean Vanderpump, died at age 84. “This has hit Lisa very hard and she is shocked by her mother’s sudden death,” a source told the Daily Mail about the situation. Wow, what a horrible few years for Vanderpump — we can’t imagine what she must have gone through.
Vanderpump also tweeted about the loss, writing: “A tragic year for sure. I thank all of you for your beautiful messages and words of kindness. Life is so fragile and I have no time for negativity.” Just heartbreaking.
Despite the loss, an insider said the restaurateur is primed for a beautiful future no matter what. “One thing is for sure with Lisa though, she’s as strong as they come and once she has worked through her grief she will be back running her restaurant empire, focusing on her philanthropic endeavors and filming Vanderpump Rules,’ the source told the Daily Mail. We can’t help but agree — keep your head high, girl.
Was Lisa Vanderpump 'bullied' off of RHOBH?
Lisa Vanderpump was a RHOBH veteran, having first appeared on the reality series in 2010. But her reign came to an end in June 2019, when she announced her exit after Season 9. The reality TV maven blamed her departure on the RHOBH cast, telling the Daily Express: “I was tearful most days filming Housewives last season. The whole cast ganged up on me, and I was just weary.” Vanderpump’s claim backs up a source who told Page Six months earlier that she was “bullied off the show.” The insider added, “[Bravo] is trying to stretch it out to make it seem like she’s around. Lisa’s not in it. All the other women will talk about her in the episodes, and they’ll promote [the show] to appear as if she’s in it, because she’s the star. But she didn’t film with them.”
We don’t want to point any fingers here, but if Vanderpump’s claim is true, then we understand why she was so “weary.” The mom-of-two already had plenty to deal with on top of her brother’s passing, and she probably could have used the support of her friends.
That being said, Kyle Richards had a different take on Vanderpump’s perspective, telling Hollywood Life: “All I know is we’ve all wanted [Lisa] to be there and invited her to everything that we do and included her in things.” Ah, a classic case of she said, she said.
She was a victim of abuse
One of the darker details surrounding Lisa Vanderpump’s life concerns a past abusive relationship with an ex-boyfriend. Vanderpump revealed her dark story at the Season 6 RHOBH reunion, after a previous spat with then co-star Eileen Davidson was brought up. Essentially, Vanderpump seemingly questioned Davidson for bringing up her experiences with abuse on-camera, a move the soap actress found to be offensive. Vanderpump then explained that she had been abused too, telling Bravo exec Andy Cohen, “Oh, my god — I was 19, and I was threatened and physically hurt.” The honest moment caused the typically stoic socialite to tear up as she told Cohen that the relationship lasted for “quite a long time.”
The upside? Vanderpump was able to leave her abuser. She shared in her Bravo blog, “I was fortunate to realize once was a mistake, twice was a lesson, a lesson that taught me well as a young girl that I didn’t deserve that and had the strength to walk away. Many don’t have the resources or opportunity to leave, and I am thankful to be in a loving, secure relationship with a man who is my protector, rather than aggressor.”
Lisa Vanderpump lived through a tough time on-camera
It can be tough to go through a difficult legal issue behind closed doors, but it can be especially trying when you have to deal with it on-camera. Someone who probably knows this all too well is Lisa Vanderpump, who hit a rough patch when her husband, Ken Todd, was accused of assaulting an employee at a dog rescue organization called Spot Rescue. The drama went down in August 2017, when Todd allegedly slammed their exec against a wall and yelled, “Do you know who I am? I will ruin your life!” when she supposedly wouldn’t send the organizations dogs to the couple’s fundraiser. The exec filed a lawsuit against Todd, in which she also claimed that he didn’t split the fundraiser funds with Spot Rescue as supposedly promised. Vanderpump denied any conflict, however, stating that the fundraiser “was a beautiful event with friends who donated to the charity.”
Unfortunately for Vanderpump, her then RHOBH co-star Lisa Rinna brought up the allegations on the show, which couldn’t have been a fun situation for her to deal with. Kyle Richards expressed surprise that Rinna really went there, telling Bravo exec Andy Cohen: “I was actually very taken aback. I was really shocked, and she really went after Lisa Vanderpump. And I was shocked and I felt extremely defensive of Lisa Vanderpump, and I was like, ‘What the hell is Lisa Rinna doing right now?'”
Lisa Vanderpump's sad fears over Max's adoption
Lisa Vanderpump’s second child, Max, is adopted. Vanderpump opened up about Max’s adoption story on RHOBH after he expressed interest in finding his birth parents. The search brought up a lot of intense emotions for the reality star, including her fears about her son’s biological family, with whom she hadn’t been in contact for years.
“My first fear when I signed up to do Housewives was my son was 18 and I said, ‘You know, it really does worry me that maybe this family would come forward,'” she said on Jenny McCarthy’s podcast (via People). “I said, ‘I want to be very sensitive about that.’ I thought because they met me, that if I was on Dancing with the Stars — at the time I didn’t know that it would be as big, the show, in such public forum — that maybe I would kind of hear from them and I never did.”
Vanderpump also noted in her Bravo blog that she felt “fear and apprehension” about the search, a feeling she has since moved on from. “As an adoptive mother in his younger years, I felt threatened at the prospect of him searching for his biological family, wondering if a bloodline might usurp his feelings of the familial bond that we had created,” she shared. “But now as he is older, I feel more secure and support his curiosity.”
We’re glad to hear Vanderpump has since made peace with this issue.
Lisa Vanderpump's favorite pet isn't in great health
One of Lisa Vanderpump’s most treasured pets is a Pomeranian named Giggy, who is 9-years-old at the time of this writing. Unfortunately, Giggy suffered a major health scare in January 2018 during a trip to Aspen, Colorado, and he was placed in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to help treat the symptoms.
“Giggy actually had a real hiccup last February — and February through about August, where he was being monitored very closely,” Vanderpump told The Daily Dish. “He spent a lot of [that time] in hospital, which was very difficult for us because he hated being left behind. But he was kind of in an incubator. He was on a heart monitor. We actually have a pacemaker waiting for him — a tiny, tiny little pacemaker, if he does need it.”
Vanderpump admitted that she and her husband, Ken Todd, have to be careful with Giggy’s health going forward. “He’s still a young little Gigolo, but we’ve just got to be careful with his little heart,” she explained. “We worship him. I mean, Ken’s even more obsessed than I am.” Aww. We hope Giggy’s health remains stable for the foreseeable future.
R.I.P Pikachu and Pink Dog
It’s no secret that Lisa Vanderpump adores animals, especially dogs. Not only does the restaurateur support various dog charities, but she also runs her own adoption rescue in Los Angeles, Vanderpump Dogs. So, it’s understandable that Vanderpump was beyond devastated when she lost two of her own pups back-to-back in the fall of 2017.
In late September of that year, Vanderpump revealed that her dog, Pink Dog, died suddenly. “We are devastated … you were such a happy dog and we will miss you so much, we love you,” she tweeted. Just nine days later, Vanderpump used social media to make another sad revelation. “Rest in peace my sweet Pikachu … Such sadness at your loss,” she wrote on Instagram.
It isn’t easy to lose two pets in the span of days, to say the least, a sentiment Vanderpump touched on in an interview with Us Weekly. “It was unfortunate timing to lose two of our furry children in six days. Pikachu was suffering the last few days so it gave us some solace when he passed,” she said. “The carers at VCA treated him with love and compassion and he is now at rest. In light of recent tragic events, it makes me appreciate even more the huge comfort that our beloved pets give to us in this very sad world.”
Rest easy, Pikachu and Pink Dog.
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