The life and career of Bethenny Frankel, a reality TV star and businesswoman who sold her company for $100 million

Bethenny Frankel is all about the hustle.

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Bethenny Frankel is all about the hustle.
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Gary Gershoff/Getty

  • Bethenny Frankel is a reality TV star and a successful businesswoman.
  • She stars on the show “Real Housewives of New York,” and has been in other Bravo series.
  • Her exact net worth is unknown. But in 2011, she sold Skinnygirl Cocktails for a reported $100 million. Since then, she’s expanded Skinnygirl into a global lifestyle brand.
  • Frankel is currently in the news because of the sudden death of her on-again, off-again boyfriend Dennis Shields.

On Friday, Bethenny Frankel’s on-again-off-again-boyfriend, Dennis Shields, was found dead in his apartment, of a suspected overdose.

Shields had made multiple appearances on “The Real Housewives of New York,” the reality TV show in which Frankel stars. Frankel had said of their relationship, “It’s like a partnership where if we’re not being teammates and it’s not working and one man is down, then the other man is down.”

A self-professed “hustler,” Frankel is best known for her starring role on the reality-TV show “Real Housewives of New York;” for founding Skinnygirl Cocktails and selling it for a reported $100 million; and for writing bestselling books. She’s also mother to an eight-year-old girl.

Below, take a look at Frankel’s path to success, as well as a peek into her personal life.


Bethenny Frankel, 47, isn’t just a reality TV star — she’s also a successful businesswoman.

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Jamie Cody

Frankel was born in 1970. Her late father was a horse trainer; he left the family when she was four. Frankel has described her childhood as dysfunctional, citing “gambling, drinking, drugs, eating disorders, and physical abuse.”

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Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

Source: The New Yorker


“I was an adult as a child,” Frankel said. “I saw so much as a very young child that I think it matured me in an unnatural and unusual way.”

Source:Business Insider


For college, Frankel attended Boston University and then New York University. After graduation, she moved to Los Angeles, hoping to be an actress.

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Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images

Source:Business Insider


“I was always hustling,” Frankel said. “I was always figuring out some way to just get by.” At one point, she said, she was “one of the largest importers of pashminas in the world.”

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Rob Kim/Getty Images

Source:Business Insider


Frankel ended up on “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart” in 2005 because she’d made a bet with somebody who thought she could never get on the show. She ended up being one of two finalists.

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Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Source:Business Insider


At the time, she was a natural-food chef in New York and she’d created Bethenny Bakes, a wheat-egg-and-dairy-cookie company.

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Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Source:Business Insider


She started working as a private chef and began writing an anti-diet book, “Naturally Thin,” which was published in 2009.

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G. Gershoff/Getty Images

Sources: The New Yorker, Business Insider


She said her “big moment” was when she appeared on the “Today” show with Hoda Kotb, talking about food personalities.

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Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Source:Business Insider


Frankel is perhaps best known for being on the reality show “Real Housewives of New York City.” She remembers someone coming up to her at the sport event Polo in the Hamptons, asking her to be the fifth wife on a show called “Manhattan Moms.”

Bethenny Frankel is all about the hustle.

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Gary Gershoff/Getty

Source: Business Insider


At the time, she was unmarried and didn’t have kids. She didn’t want to be on the show: “I thought it was going to be a bunch of drunk people acting crazy and a disaster.”

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Gary Gershoff/Getty Images

Source:Business Insider


The first season aired in 2008. “I ended up making money off of that, those drunk people,” she said.

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Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Source:Business Insider


On “Real Housewives,” “I was honest about being broke and being alone, and people connected to me,” Frankel said. “Which is why, in turn, they connected to the books and products.” “Naturally Thin” became a bestseller.

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John Parra/Getty Images

Source: The New Yorker


In 2011, Frankel sold Skinnygirl Cocktails, a line of low-calorie mixers, to Beam Global for a reported $100 million, while maintaining the name rights. That same year, she appeared on the cover of Forbes magazine. She was also one of the highest paid celebrities of 2016, earning $55 million.

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Getty

Sources: Business Insider, Forbes


Since then, Skinnygirl has expanded into a global lifestyle brand. In 2017, Frankel worked with One Jeanswear Group to launch Skinnygirl Jeans.

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Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Source: Skinnygirl Global


In 2010, Frankel married pharmaceutical sales representative Jason Hoppy. Their divorce was finalized in 2016. Frankel’s first marriage was to Peter Sussman in 1996; they divorced in 1997.

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G. Gershoff/Getty Images

Sources: NY Daily News, People


On the third season of “Real Housewives,” Frankel discovered she was pregnant with her daughter, Bryn.

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Ben Gabbe/Getty Images

Source: The New Yorker


Between June 2015 and June 2016, Frankel earned $8.5 million. But she said she defines success through her daughter, who is now eight years old. “I’m the most happy when we’ve connected and we’ve spent days together.”

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Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Sources: Business Insider, Forbes


Frankel is a guest investor on season 9 of ABC’s “Shark Tank.” She also launched a new real-estate show in 2018, “Bethenny and Fredrik,” with New York City real-estate entrepreneur Fredrik Eklund.

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Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Source: CNBC, Bravo TV


Forbes estimates that Frankel’s salary from the TV network Bravo is over $1 million, and that she earns between $10,000 and $30,000 for each paid Instagram post.

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Instagram

Source: Forbes


In partnership with Dress for Success, Frankel launched the crisis-intervention initiative B Strong. In 2017, B Strong and Delivering Good raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for victims of natural disasters.

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Facebook

Sources: Delivering Good, Fortune


In December 2017, Frankel purchased a second home in the Hamptons, for $2.5 million. (In 2015, she’d bought a cottage in the same town that was initially listed for $3.2 million.) She listed the second home in May 2017, for $2.995 million.

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Frankel’s homes not pictured.
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travelview/Shutterstock

Source: New York Post, Trulia


Frankel said she wasn’t intimidated by the prospect of being on reality TV, and it seems like she isn’t intimidated by much. As she put it, “I’m cut out for anything.”