O.J., Kris, Caitlyn (then identifying as Bruce), and O.J.’s girlfriend, Paula Barbieri.
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The upcoming FX series American Crime Story: The People Vs. O.J. Simpson, from American Horror Story’s Ryan Murphy, recreates the Trial of the Century. Perhaps you don’t know what the “Trial of the Century” is because you weren’t alive in 1994 (same), or because you were too young to watch the infamous Bronco chase — but you should. The trial, which saw football star O.J. Simpson tried for murdering ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman — a waiter who was at Nicole’s Brentwood estate to return a pair of eyeglasses — was covered on TV around the clock, like a true-crime soap opera, and it exposed deep racial tensions in America. While DNA evidence linked O.J. to the double murders, the defense argued that O.J. was framed by the police in a conspiracy led by racist cop Mark Fuhrman. In 1995, O.J. was acquitted.
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Less important but still of fascination: The trial featured Robert Kardashian, dad to the four Kardashian kids, long-time best friend to O.J., and a member of the defendant’s “Dream Team (including Johnnie Cochran and Robert Shapiro). Robert’s loyalty to O.J. caused a divide within his family: His ex-wife, Kris Jenner, was one of Nicole’s best friends (Kendall’s middle name is “Nicole” in her honor) and she believed O.J. was guilty. He had a history of beating Nicole, who told Kris (and others) that she feared he might one day kill her.
“[O.J. and Nicole] were two of the best friends I ever had in my entire life,” Kris says in this week’s issue of People, ahead of Crime Story’s Feb. 2 premiere. “This is going to introduce a new generation to this thing that took place that was so horrific. It could have been prevented.”
This is not the first time Kris and co. have spoken about the case, although they haven’t done so much. Here, a look back at what the Kardashian/Jenners have said about the Trial of the Century over the years. (As you’ll see, Kourtney, Kendall, Kylie, and Rob have stayed mum.)
KRIS JENNEROn O.J.’s jealousy, Nicole’s fear of O.J., and Kris wishing she did more to help
1. “O.J. was jealous. O.J. was jealous of the people that [Nicole] would associate herself with if they were male. It took him a while to get used to the fact that she was now dating and she had every right to go out and date. She was divorced. They had a passionate relationship. So to disconnect from that was very difficult for him.” —in an interview with ABC News, via the Washington Post, in January 1995.
2. “In my world, my little world, things always work out for the best. You don’t think someone is going to murder someone.” —to the Washington Post in September 1995
3. “I never believed O.J., not for one second … [Nicole] was a wreck. She was convinced that someone was looking in her windows and climbing through her bushes in the middle of the night. She became convinced that the person spying on her was either O.J. or someone sent by O.J., who was obsessed with what she was doing when he wasn’t with her. She told me that she was being stalked, and she believed it was O.J … Nicole said, ‘Can you get over here…? I need to talk to you. It’s really important.'” [Kris asked to postpone the meeting until the next day.] “‘That’s okay, can you meet me tomorrow for lunch? I really have to talk to you about something really, really important.’ It would be the last time I would ever speak to Nicole.”
“Nicole had been beaten up by O.J. and she had been keeping this physical proof in the form of photographs and, it would turn out, other evidence, in which she had documented seventeen years of abuse. Nicole really wanted someone close to her to know what was going on, so that somebody — namely me — could be a witness … I instinctively knew that in some way O.J. had something to do with her death.” —from her 2011 memoir, Kris Jenner…and All Things Kardashian
On her disagreements with ex-husband Robert Kardashian and how their rift impacted the family
4. “The only thing I discuss with him is the children, we just keep it about the kids. Because I think what would happen is our opinions are so obviously black and white that what is that going to do.” —in an interview with Good Morning America (above) in September 1995; she was pregnant with Kendall at the time
Other interesting Kris quotes from the segment:
“I think [Nicole’s] kids are good. I think they’re adjusting as well as they can for the situation they’re in. I don’t see them nearly as much as I used to but I did have Sydney [Nicole’s daughter] for a few days this summer, and the kids went down there and saw them, so they stay in touch. So they’re OK.”
“I’ve talked to [O.J.] a few times from jail, he called me. I believe that he was reaching out and wanting to talk to me, I’ve known him for 20 years.”
Kris, Caitlyn, Kourtney, Kim, Khloé, and Rob on an Easter trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with O.J., Nicole, their two young kids and others — just weeks before Nicole was murdered in June, 1994.
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5. “It was devastating for us as a family. You have Robert Kardashian on the defense team defending [O.J.’s] team and you have me, my girlfriend’s dead. It was a very difficult situation and what we need to was band together as a family and decide that this isn’t going to tear us apart … He was defending O.J. and really believed that when we first found out that Nicole had been murdered that O.J. did not do it and he wanted to stick up for his friend so he did everything in his power to be there for his friend first, they had been through everything together.” —in a Dr. Phil appearance in March 2009
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6. “I didn’t understand how he didn’t see what I saw. There was a line drawn in the sand. It was tough and there was a lot of tension. The kids probably suffered as a result of it. I think they felt like everybody was on my side for a while so they felt the need to maybe go to Daddy’s side a little bit. So it was a lot of confusion, but he felt like he needed to be there for his friend, and he wanted to be a loyal friend. And that’s exactly what Robert was.” —in an interview with Oprah in June 2012
7. “Right before the trial started, Robert sat down and wrote us a handwritten letter and just said, ‘Look, I know you don’t agree with what is going down here, but this is what I have to do for my friend’ … He believed in what he was doing and he was asking us for his support … It’s bigger than life, and there’s drama and craziness and the press is parked outside of your door with a bank of 50 photographers. It was nuts.” —in The Kardashian’s: E True Hollywood Story, released in April 2009
Note: At this point Caitlyn Jenner was identifying as Bruce Jenner; however, we refer to her here as Caitlyn, as that is the correct way to identify her.
8. “It’s tough enough on the adults, we’ve been trying to understand what’s going on, but there are a lot of kids who are involved here too, young people growing up knowing that the person they used to call Uncle O.J. or Auntie Nicole are gone, their lives changed immediately. I think we can handle as adults, but we have to be so protective of the young kids and how they perceive what’s going on and trying to talk to them so they can understand what’s going on here. What have we learned from it? I think you have to find out a lot more about your friends. Sometimes you just don’t know, you don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors. We knew it was a strained relationship, we had no idea about the larger scale of what was going on here.”
“We have to see justice here. Two people were brutally murdered, I saw the pictures for the first time today, brutally murdered, somebody’s got to pay for that crime, and they’ve got to pay for it for a long time. And if it doesn’t happen, whatever the jury comes up with, there’s gotta be justice in this case. I’m counting on the jury system, I’m pulling for these people, I’m hoping they make the right decision.” —in an interview with Good Morning America (video above) in September 1995
9. “He had a dark side to him. I didn’t know it was that dark. As soon as it happened, we pretty much knew that he was the guy and he did it. The DNA evidence proved that there were three people at the crime scene: O.J., Nicole, and Ron, so you pick the murderer. It was something that did tear us apart. I liked Robert, I still, I loved Robert and Robert was a great guy, he was a great father and I supported his decision of being on the O.J. dream team, but I was also kind of afraid for him. It made it very difficult for the girls. I remember the day the verdict came through and the girls came in and they said ‘I told you he didn’t do it,’ — Kourtney, Kimberly, and Khloé — and I go, ‘Let’s sit down.’ And we sat down and I said, ‘Look, just because he got a not guilty verdict doesn’t mean he didn’t do it and I just don’t want to hear his name anymore.’ And I had a lot of conversations with Robert to try to make sure it didn’t tear the family apart.” —in an interview with Dr. Phil (video above) in March 2009
10. “Kourtney and I would go to the trial with my dad, and we’d sit on one side, and I remember looking over and my mom was on the other side sitting next to Nicole’s parents, and there was so much tension. If we’re siding with this one, my mom and Bruce were upset, and if we’re over here, then my dad’s upset … Once that was over, my parents realized that they can’t let this get in the way of their friendship and how they raise their kids together, and I think it actually brought everyone closer together at the end of the day.” —in The Kardashian’s: E True Hollywood Story, released in April 2009
11. “O.J. was Uncle O.J. to us, Nicole was Aunt Nicole. We felt like we were really in the middle of this trial. We didn’t know which parent to side with. And the trial was on every single day and I remember one time going to the courthouse, and Kourtney and I went with my dad, and my mom is sitting across with Nicole Brown’s family, and we thought our mom was mad at us because we were sitting with our dad.” —in an interview with Dr. Phil (video above) in March 2009
12. “It’s so funny, people ask me [if I think O.J. was guilty] all the time and I just really try and block it out. I don’t really, I don’t think I’ve ever answered it. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just that I think that was the biggest struggle within our family, besides the divorce … it’s the biggest separation that my family’s had. So why even bring it up? Everyone has their own opinion and we respect everyone’s opinions.” —to Dr. Phil
13. “I definitely took my dad’s side. We just always thought my dad was the smartest person in the world, and he really believed in his friend.” —in an interview with Rolling Stone in July 2015
14. “O.J. was always our Uncle O.J., Nicole was my Auntie Nicole. You don’t really know what to believe or how to perceive it … It’s sad to see your parents go through so much pain for trying to be true friends.” —in The Kardashian’s: E True Hollywood Story, released in April 2009
15. “I was so young when it happened that I’m actually excited to see what I remember and don’t. My dad kept Robert and I really sheltered from that. Kourtney and Kim would go to court with my dad all the time. They were much more involved. I was really close to O.J.’s daughter [Sydney] so I would always be with her for support during that time. We were kids. I think I was 8 or something, so we’re all sheltered from that, for us we’re just playing and hanging out. So I don’t remember it as vivid as Kourtney and Kim do.” —to Access Hollywood in January 2016