The Kardashians have been a big part of show business since they first appeared on our small screens back in 2007. Though practically every person has heard of their family by now, many fans may not know that Keeping Up with the Kardashians almost never even happened. As Khloé Kardashian recalled on a January 2021 episode of The Kelly Clarkson Show, the family “shot a pilot … but it didn’t go anywhere. And then a show on E! fell through, and they needed something to fill this dead airtime.” She said the network told them they were “just filler” and recommended they didn’t “get too comfortable here.” Here we are 20 seasons later.
KUWTK‘s impressive run has given viewers legendary fights, heartbreaking moments, goofy hijinks, and, of course, celebrity cameos. Even before the show began, the Kardashian family was surrounded by other stars, and they sure showed off their Rolodex throughout the series. Given the A-list company they keep, their home is “like central casting,” Kathie Lee Gifford once explained to People. “You have to see it to believe it.”
While some may say otherwise, the family’s friendships with other celebrities are the real deal. “We don’t do anything for ratings,” Kim Kardashian insisted during an interview with Oprah Winfrey. However, having a bunch of stars appear on their reality show certainly doesn’t hurt.
Here are some of the famous people you forgot appeared on Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
Boy bander Lance Bass loves to dine with the Jenners
All the way back in Season 3 of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Kris Jenner invited a very special guest over to her home for dinner one evening. While it may seem like a normal way to end the day, this dinner guest happened to be a former member of one of the biggest boy bands ever — not exactly someone the rest of us could just casually call up and have over for a hot meal.
*NSYNC alum Lance Bass, who has been good friends with the family for over a decade, brought along his boyfriend for a fancy feast at Jenner’s home. Funny enough, he had no idea what he was in for when he showed up. “I didn’t know the cameras were going to be there,” he later admitted on The Wendy Williams Show.
Even so, Bass and Jenner have since enjoyed many other dinner dates together without a camera in sight to capture it. While he’s close with the Kardashians’ momager, she’s not the only one he enjoys spending time with. “I love all my girls, but Khloé [Kardashian] I love,” he admitted to Wendy Williams.
Kathie Lee Gifford goes way back with Kris Jenner
Kim Kardashian’s Season 6 wedding to Kris Humphries was a star-studded event. Everybody from George Lopez to Demi Lovato was invited, but no famous guest seems to go as far back with the Kardashian family than Kathie Lee Gifford.
As Gifford recalled to People, she connected with Kris Jenner long before Keeping Up with the Kardashians was a thing. The two “became very, very close friends” after they met in the 1970s, and Gifford told the outlet that she “loaned Kris money years ago because they needed it.” The morning show icon also happens to be Kendall and Kylie Jenner’s godmother.
In the ’00s, Gifford convinced the family to really think about starting their own reality show. After all, their lives have always been so interesting — and always surrounded by other stars. “I would be there with [my late husband] Frank and we would be walking in and the Jackson Five would be walking out,” Gifford recalled to People. “And then as I’m leaving, Wayne Gretzky would be walking in and then an uber-model would be, and a rapper.”
Now that the family is doing more than well financially, Gifford’s ready for Kris to make good on that reimbursement. As Gifford joked to People, “I want that money back!”
Jeff Dunham is one of Caitlyn Jenner's best friends
Throughout all the seasons of Keeping Up with Kardashians, you rarely see Caitlyn Jenner palling around with a buddy. However, in Season 8 Episode 18, fans got to watch her spend a lot of time with one of her good friends: comedian/ventriloquist Jeff Dunham. Jenner and Dunham forged a real and fun friendship, and thanks to the E! cameras, those of us at home got to see these two have a blast together.
“It’s nice to have a friend outside of the family that has a lot of the common interests that I have,” the Olympian shared on the show. When Dunham appeared on KUWTK, he and Jenner drove old cars and flew drones, but as for hitting the links together? That was not on the menu. “The only thing is he doesn’t play golf,” Jenner, a diehard golf enthusiast, said of her friend. How un-fore-tunate.
Oprah Winfrey studied hard before her Kardashians cameo
Long before Oprah Winfrey’s iconic chat with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, she sat down for a lengthy one with the Kardashians. When her production company called up Kris Jenner to schedule an in-home tour and sit-down interview while the family was filming Keeping Up with the Kardashians Season 15, the Kardashian-Jenners were nothing short of excited.
Funny enough, Winfrey had not watched the reality show before deciding to sit down with the family. “I did a full on Kardashian Kram in preparation, watching major shows from every season,” she shared on Facebook (via The Hollywood Reporter). “I genuinely wanted to know why they have become a cultural phenomenon? Why do so many people love to watch their every move and why do so many others love to hate them. Are they completely ego centered? Are they really ‘famous for being famous’ or is there something more?”
It ended up being one of the longest interviews that Winfrey had ever done, and it was an illuminating watch for KUWTK fans. “The show has just been our biggest platform, our biggest commercial,” Kim Kardashian told Winfrey. The Oprah’s Next Chapter interview surely was a big platform for the family, too.
Mel B. may be one of Kim Kardashian's biggest inspirations
Growing up, the group behind “Wannabe” was an integral part of Kim Kardashian’s life — so much so, that she once wrote on Instagram, “The Spice Girls got me through a lot!” Oh, and you better believe that caption went along with a throwback pic of Kardashian and her pals all dressed up like the band. Suffice to say, when Mel B. appeared on Keeping Up with the Kardashians for the first time in Season 9, it was a zig-a-zig-ah-wesomely full-circle moment. (When Wonderwall showed Mel B. the aforementioned throwback picture, she replied, “I love her.”)
Mel B. popped up in multiple episodes of KUWTK over the years, hanging out behind-the-scenes at award shows and fashion shows that she’s attended alongside the Kardashians. On the flip side, in 2010, Kardashian appeared on the Spice Girl’s own reality show, Mel B.: It’s a Scary World. In the episode, Mel B. and Kardashian join forces and design a shoe for charity.
Though both reality shows have since come to an end, hopefully we’ll be seeing the two collaborate together again in the future. “It’s a nice treat for us to get together considering our schedules are so busy,” Mel B. said.
Alex Rodriguez was the coach the Kardashians needed
The Kardashians have spent their entire lives around other celebrities, and it’s hard to forget that when you’re watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians. In Season 15, they challenged close friend Tito Jackson and his family — yes, as in the Jackson family — to a fun game of baseball. Though they came up with a cute name for their team — the Calabasas Peaches — the Kardashians were in need of some serious help. Not only did they not know the rules of baseball, but they had no idea where the home plate even was.
Since Khloé Kardashian’s coaching wasn’t enough to help them out, Kris Jenner called in backup. Kim Kardashian happens to be close pals with Jennifer Lopez, and Jenner utilized this connection wisely and brought in Alex Rodriguez.
Though he gave them some great advice, it wasn’t enough to get these Kardashians a career on the baseball field. Even so, Rodriguez still seemed to get some major inspiration for the major league from his appearance on the show. During an interview two years later with ESPN’s First Take, he explained that he knew how to make the MLB even better than before. “You’re going to do it through mic’ing the players,” he said. “The Kardashians have taught us more is more.”
Adrienne Bailon has a history with the Kardashians
Way back in the first few seasons of the show, Adrienne Bailon appeared quite often on Keeping Up with the Kardashians. For two years, she dated the famed sisters’ brother, Rob Kardashian, and fans got to see their entire relationship evolve on-screen during that time. From the moment they met, to the time they moved in together, and even when infidelity came into their relationship and ultimately ruined it, watching broke all of our hearts. “Anybody that’s been in a relationship where they were cheated on or hurt, it affects you,” the former Cheetah Girl later shared on The Real.
Though she parted ways with the show after splitting from Rob, Bailon can still be seen hanging out with members of the family behind the scenes. As E! noted, she’s become close with all three Kardashian sisters and has even attended one of Rob’s recent birthday parties, so there seem to be no lingering hard feelings
One of Kim Kardashian’s kids happens to be a big Bailon fan. It turns out that one of North West’s favorite movies is The Cheetah Girls. “Should I break the news to North that this could have been her auntie?!?!?!” Kim joked to her Instagram followers (via People).
Ariana Grande and Kris Jenner teamed up
While Kris Jenner is usually the one calling the shots for her clients, she got a call during Keeping Up with the Kardashians Season 16 that was all about her. “Ariana Grande invited me to be in her music video,” she said. It was Jenner’s very first time starring in one, and it also happened to be for the mega hit song “Thank U, Next.” In the music video, which spoofs several beloved ’00s comedies, the matriarch of the Kardashian-Jenner family plays Amy Poehler’s character from Mean Girls. Not that anyone is surprised by this, but Jenner cheers Grande and her friends on during their talent show routine to hilarious perfection.
On Keeping Up with the Kardashians, fans got a behind-the-scenes look of Jenner and Grande getting their hair and makeup done and chatting all about Kylie Jenner’s lip kits. Of course, Jenner brought one along for Grande to try out, and the pink shade made its debut in the music video, too.
In the end, Jenner wasn’t the only one who was ecstatic about starring in Grande’s stuff. “I’m so excited to make my Keeping Up with the Kardashians debut,” Grande said in the episode.
Sia's identity isn't so secret on Keeping Up with the Kardashians
You don’t normally see much of Sia’s face, and she’s always liked to keep it that way with her wigs. However, if you’re looking to catch a glimpse of the girl in action, you can see it on multiple episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
She first appeared at the family’s Christmas party, and as she told the crowd, she performed her hit single “Chandelier” as “a special request from Kris [Jenner].” At the party, John Legend also sang some songs, and Jennifer Lopez made an appearance as well. In fact, Sia was first introduced to the Kardashian family through J.Lo. “And when I met them, I felt safe,” Sia shared on Karson & Kennedy Talk with Famous People.
The pop star said she regularly attended Kanye West’s Sunday service, which led to spending time with the family. “And then afterwards, we would sometimes go to Kourtney [Kardashian]’s house and swim,” she said on Karson & Kennedy. And we’ve since seen them all hanging out quite a bit season after season.
It’s obvious that the Kardashians are a fan of the pop singer, because she’s always performing at their parties. The feeling is mutual, too. “I love those girls,” Sia said.
Steve Harvey handled a Kardashian family feud
In the fifth episode of Season 15, fans saw the Kardashians on quite a different kind of set. They were competing against Kanye West’s family on the famous game show Family Feud — so, of course, we saw Steve Harvey. However, the version shown on Keeping Up with the Kardashians was a bit more dramatic than what we saw on the game show. Behind the scenes, the family was feuding over who would be their fifth player.
It turns out, the Kardashians’ grandmother said she wasn’t sure if she could make it at all. In order to have enough people to play, Kim Kardashian called in her friend Jonathan Cheban to fill in. He flew through the night in order to be there, but — surprise! — their grandma decided to show up, too. Drama ensued while the sisters were debating who would have to be kicked off the team. However, Harvey was not about drama. He simply let the reality stars have six players on their team for the first time in Family Feud history. “Y’all special, so they’re going to make it happen for you,” Harvey said in the episode.
Kim and Kanye watch the show every week, so in the end, they were just ecstatic about appearing on it — drama or not. Harvey explained on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, “His people said, ‘Steve, this is the most Kanye has ever smiled since we’ve been working with him.'”
Ryan Seacrest wears many hats on Keeping Up with the Kardashians
Ryan Seacrest is not only one of the creators of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, but he’s made his debut alongside them in some of the episodes. Over the course of 20 seasons, he’s appeared multiple times: Seacrest attended Kendall and Kylie Jenners’s mock graduation ceremony, was a guest at Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries’ wedding, and he has even showcased his own radio show on the series.
Unsurprisingly, after working together for about two decades, Seacrest has grown close with famed momager Kris Jenner. “I know her as my partner and dear friend, I almost feel like I’m family with her,” Seacrest explained on Live with Kelly and Ryan. “She is truly an amazing person and, I think, one of the savviest businesspeople on the planet.”
The two met in 2006 when Jenner was interested in making a reality series about her family, and Seacrest happened to be looking for something to produce. It seemed to be the perfect pairing right out the gate. The first time the Kardashians got together to shoot something for the series, it was clear they had that “it” factor. “There was yelling, there was laughter, there were hugs,” Seacrest said on Live with Kelly and Ryan. “It was all the ingredients to make a great show.” Clearly, he was not wrong.
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