Real Housewives Mysteries: The Stolen Homes, Mystery Lovers and Fights That Rocked the Franchise

From Bethenny Frankel and Carole Radziwill's broken friendship to RHOBH's Puppygate, these are the mysteries that rocked the franchise

By Chris Harnick, Billy Nilles Nov 13, 2019 10:13 PMTags
Real Housewives of New York City, RHONYBravo

The stars of Bravo's Real Housewives franchise love a good feud. But sometimes, cameras aren't there to capture the beginning of these mega fights or friendship breakups. That's where armchair detective work comes in. Sometimes it's up to viewers to dig and intrepid journalists to get the scoop on what really went down. Like the case of what happened between Real Housewives of New York City's Bethenny Frankel and Carole Radziwill in season 10? Or what really happened with The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Lisa Vanderpump and #Puppygate.

With BravoCon upon us, it's time to take a walk down memory lane with us and find out the origins of your favorite rifts and accusations.

MYSTERY: What happened between Bethenny Frankel and Carole Radziwill on The Real Housewives of New York City season 10?

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These former BFFs had a falling out ahead of season 10 it seems.

"I'm an idealistic kind of person. I look at the world that way, I look at people that way, and I think I looked at her that way," Carole told E! News about the fractured friendship ahead of her final season. "And I feel like now I see her a little bit more realistically and less idealistically. There were just some things that were said and done that I just felt like weren't completely consistent with the girl I knew."

Carole eventually left the show following the season that depicted her friendship breakup.

"We were close when we met on the show...I would consider her a good friend and had up until the last season," Carole told Jenny McCarthy about Bethenny. "None of what she was saying was true...I don't know what—she was obviously constructing a storyline for herself that wasn't based in reality."

While promoting Biography: JFK Jr. The Final Years, Carole stopped by The Jenny McCarthy Show and said the storyline about her becoming best pals with Tinsley Mortimer was because nobody wanted to film with Tinz, and not the catalyst for the friendship drama with Bethenny.

"I was a very good friend to [Bethenny]. That's all I'm going to say. I supported her in her charities, I gave her a lot of money…I really cared about her...I was just being a really good friend to her. I think I was trying to establish some boundaries at the end and sometimes people don't do well with that. I just was just a little too much Bethenny and not enough Carole in the relationship. I didn't blow that relationship up," Carole said. "Even when we were filming I have text messages...It was definitely time for me to leave...I think at the end, if I'm being honest, I didn't trust the process and that made me nervous."

After Carole left the show, Bethenny said the two ran into each other at an event. 

"I ran into her at a charity event a couple of months ago and we had a really nice time. I saw her at the bar, we had a conversation, we talked about Adam and just life, and it was nice. We actually just had a moment and it was clean. I like when things are clean," Bethenny told Andy Cohen.

MYSTERY STATUS: Solved? Sort of?

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MYSTERY: Who started Puppygate? And what exactly was Puppygate all about?

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills season nine was all about a dog named Lucy Lucy Apple Juice. Well, about how Dorit Kemsley adopted that dog from Lisa Vanderpump's shelter, then rehomed the dog and the dog eventually winding up in a shelter, LVP and her team finding that out and whether or not they were trying to set up some drama with Teddi Mellencamp. We think. Maybe?

It was a convoluted season of printed text messages, blogs with even more text exchanges, two men named John, LVP and Kyle Richards ending their friendship, memes and tears. It ended with Lisa departing the show.

MYSTERY STATUS: Does it matter? It's over.

Robert Ascroft/Bravo

MYSTERY: What happened between the Dina Manzo, Caroline Manzo and Jacqueline Laurita on The Real Housewives of New Jersey?

Sisters Dina Manzo and Caroline Manzo and their sister-in-law Jacqueline Laurita all starred in The Real Housewives of New Jersey seasons one and two together, but Dina left in the middle of the second season. She went on to return in season six after her family left the show. Then rumblings of a family feud started taking shape. It seems it started between Dina and Jacqueline and escalated to include Caroline.

In a 2011 blog post, Dina revealed her truth. She said she became more involved with her charity, Project Ladybug, and the events of season one (and the table-flip dinner) really got to her. "Once I left I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders and I finally felt a sense of peace. I feel bad that I stayed away from anyone or anything that had to do with Housewives and that DID include Teresa but I had to do what was right for me to maintain my happiness and steer clear of any drama," she said. While away from the show and the ladies, Dina said "some things" happened that made her stay away from the negative.

During Dina's RHONJ season six reunion appearance in 2014, the feud returned to the spotlight. Caroline responded, but the women remained fractured. However, the family seemed to patch things up, coming together for family holidays and attending Lauren Manzo's wedding together. Caroline addressed it on her spinoff, Manzo'd With Children.

"Here's the deal: My sister and I had a falling out. We didn't speak for a couple of years," Caroline said. Everything changed when she got a text from Dina asking why she was being so nasty. Caroline shot a text back and then they agreed to meet.

"I didn't tell a soul," Caroline said of the meeting. "We met for five and a half hours. From then on? Everything's fine. She's here for the holidays, she talks to my kids, Lexie's in the bridal party and we could all go on living. Thank you very much."

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Everything was fine in 2014 -2016, it seems. Jacqueline said they were still made up, noting, "I would say it's peaceful between us, but we haven't seen her."

In 2016, Caroline said her relationship with Dina was over.

What changed? During a 2018 appearance on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, Dina was asked about the status of her relationship with Caroline. She said they do not talk. "It's not my fault, people! It's not my fault," Dina said.

MYSTERY STATUS: Unsolved. We still don't know what exactly caused the rift the first time, nor what's behind this most recent development.

MYSTERY: What did Caroline Manzo accuse Danielle Staub of doing in The Real Housewives of New Jersey season one reunion?

"You know what you did…I will never forgive [you] and you will never be a friend of mine," a teary Caroline said to Danielle at the RHONJ season one reunion.

But what did she do? The reality stars made vague comments about it in their blogs back in 2009, but Dina Manzo revealed that Danielle got involved with legal matters involving her ex-husband and daughter Lexi.

"She told my ex's family that I'd actually forged his signature on the contracts, which I did not," Dina said. "She knew she could work on his emotions, so she supplied him with every phone number of everybody he'd need to follow through with a lawsuit—contacts at Bravo, our production crew and her attorneys."

MYSTERY STATUS: Solved (seemingly).

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MYSTERY: What caused the rift between Jill Zarin and Bethenny Frankel in The Real Housewives of New York City season three?

Jill Zarin and Bethenny Frankel were the best of friends on RHONY. Jill helped Bethenny get cast on the show, they were supportive of each other, they were truly, on screen and off, friends. Until they weren't. They were instantly arguing when the third season of the Bravo reality series kicked off. What happened?

"I remember there was a turning point and I was hosting the Today show," Bethenny explained to Andy Cohen. "When I got there, the first thing that was told to me  by the producers was Jill called her and she lost her mind. ‘Why not me? I'm better than her.'"

Bethenny said she got invites to do other press in Los Angeles and Jill would ask why Bethenny didn't bring her and that they'd be better together. "Listen, I'm not in a girl band," Bethenny told Andy.

When they started filming season three, the infamous "we're done" phone call took place. See that above.

"It was like, 'Whoa, this is one cunning bitch,'" Bethenny said. "She's waiting to be on camera to come at me with things and make America hate me. It was really clear that she wanted people to hate me."

The two made peace at the season three reunion, but their relationship did not defrost. When Bobby Zarin passed away, Bethenny went to his funeral and she and Jill buried the hatchet. Their mending of fences was filmed, of course.



MYSTERY: Who was Kim Zolciak's secret sugar daddy, only known to the world as Big Poppa, on The Real Housewives of Atlanta?

Kim Zolciak-Biermann may be a happily married woman now, the wife of Kroy Biermann for the last seven years, but when we met her during season one of RHOA, she was a single mother of two and her lavish lifestyle was being bankrolled by a boyfriend she would only refer to as Big Poppa. Why did she keep the guy a secret from the world and her co-stars? Well, he was married, of course. The relationship somehow led to an engagement in season two and prompted Kim's frenemy NeNe Leakes to deliver the now infamous "Close your legs to married men, trashbox" during a contentious appearance on Watch What Happens Live

His identity was never confirmed during the show, however in 2009, it was revealed that the man gifting Kim with Range Rovers while still married to another woman was Atlanta real estate Lee Najjar. Lee was outed as Big Poppa when TMZ obtained photos of the couple during a trip to the Bahamas, giving the world their first glance at the man they'd heard so much about. Interestingly enough, Lee was the man who dropped Kim off at the local Dancing With the Stars event where she met Kroy!

In 2017, Kim admitted to People that it had been quite some time since she and Lee had spoken. "It's been years and years and years and years and years," she told the publication. "I've been with Kroy seven years — I'm obsessed with him. So I definitely haven't heard from [Big Poppa]. I'm very committed to my husband."


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MYSTERY: Erika Girardi has a son, but why is he never on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills?

Tommy, Erika's son, is a police officer and lives with his mother and her husband Tom Girardi, but he's never been seen on camera. "He's a busy man living in his mom's house," Erika said on RHOBH.

Erika expanded on his absence during an interview with Megyn Kelly. "Not everybody wants to be on TV — believe it or not," she said. "I know that sounds crazy. But, he's in a dangerous line of work and he prefers his anonymity as much as possible and I agree with that."

Erika is fiercely protective of her son (as viewers have seen on RHOBH) and told Bravo that she worries about him.

"We have a really big house, so it's nice to have him there. And it's nice; listen, let me be very honest, I worry about my boy as I'm sure everyone whose family member is in law enforcement or in the military [is], OK? It's nice to hear him come home. It's nice to hear him come off duty and I can see his car in the driveway or I hear him walk up the steps. To me, I sleep a little better at night just knowing that I know where he is," she said.


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MYSTERY: Did The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' Kyle Richards steal Kim Richards' "god damn house"?

The Real Housewives franchise has produced many memorable moments, including the events of RHOBH season one finale and the fight between Kyle and Kim, the sisters Richards. The sisters went at it in a limo; with Kim charging Kyle stole her "god damn house," and Kyle calling Kim an alcoholic. To say the sisters have a tumultuous relationship would be accurate.

The sisters eventually patched things up, but the topic of the stolen "god damn house" came up yet again in season five of RHOBH. Kyle didn't steal the house, she bought Kim out.

"For five years now, people have thought that I ‘stole' my sister's house. I never spoke up to defend or explain myself, because that would mean I would have to discuss private information that would make my sister more angry with me. When she brought it up again this time, after we had spoken about it in private and cleared it up, I wasn't going to just sit back again and have my character and integrity attacked," Kyle wrote in her Bravo blog.

"Let me make it clear, since I believe many are still confused. It's quite simple: My sisters BOTH wanted me to buy them out of our mother's house. I did so. Paying them BOTH an equal amount. Why would Kim accept anything less? For whatever reason, as years passed, she thought I paid Kathy more. NOT the case. Which is why I brought up the deposited checks AGAIN. I do not want to go into more private details, even though in doing so it would explain my side MUCH more clearly."

MYSTERY STATUS: Solved (at least on Kyle's end).

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MYSTERY: What did Brandi Glanville say about Adrienne Maloof that started a war in season three of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills?

When Brandi first appeared on RHOBH in season two, she was actually introduced as a friend of Adrienne's, but things between the two were very different when the show returned for a third season. During a ladies trip to Ojai, Brandi told her friend to "shut the f--k up" after Adrienne snarked about a sentimental moment Brandi had shared with Kim Richards, wherein they finally resolved their problems. In the very next episode, Brandi trashed Adrienne during a group dinner at SUR, dropping a bomb so salacious that Bravo decided it needed to be edited out. We only got to watch the other Housewives' shocked reactions, but we knew that whatever it was was something that Adrienne and her then-husband Paul Nassif didn't want being made public because they went absolutely ballistic upon finding out.

Cease-and-desist orders were delivered, lawsuits were threatened, jabs at Brandi's mothering began appearing in the press: It was clear that whatever Brandi said was the nuclear option. But the show never revealed what was said, with a rumor floating that Adrienne threatened to sue the network if it ever made it to air. Adrienne then quit the series and didn't show up to film the season's reunion special, making sure that we would be kept in the dark for good.

Gossip popped up online, but remained just that. In season five, Adrienne returned to the show for a handful of cameos, wherein the two sat down and Brandi finally showed some contrition for her part in the whole thing. 

"I just want to clear the air with you, and we don't have to move forward and be best friends, or anything like that, I mean, I'm not thinking we need to braid each other's hair on the weekends. You can walk away from here and hate me forever, but I don't want that," she said. "There's been a lot of low blows back and forth between us, and I just want to move forward and not feel uncomfortable when we run into each other. I just really want to say I'm sorry."

However, she and Adrienne still have never confirmed exactly what was said.


Originally published on Tuesday, April 17, 2018, 5:00 a.m. PT.

(E! and Bravo are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)

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