Reality star Luann de Lesseps first burst onto the Bravo scene in 2008 when the network aired the inaugural season of the slam-dunk franchise that is “Real Housewives of New York.” In true Countess fashion, it only took Luann a few episodes before she established her presence on the show and garnered a strong and loyal fan base.
But as it turns out, Luann’s life prior to joining “RHONY” was just as intriguing, if not more so. “I lived many lives before the Housewives, and I have quite a storied past,” she once told Vulture. Lest we forget how the Connecticut-native nurse embarked on an Italian adventure to become a fashion model and eventually a television host before entering into a whirlwind courtship with a Count. After only two short weeks, Luann locked the French aristocrat down and solidified her title as Countess Luann de Lesseps. Pretty incredible, no?
Keep reading after the jump to learn about the trials, tribulations, and transformation of popular television personality, Luann de Lesseps!
Luann de Lesseps traded nursing scrubs for pageant dresses
Countess Luann de Lesseps has certainly led an incredibly fascinating life. As reported by That Housewives Guy, Luann was working as a nurse in 1987 when she took a leap of faith and decided to enter into the Miss Connecticut beauty pageant — a decision that later would prove to change the course of her life forever.
While she didn’t end up taking home the coveted title of Miss Connecticut, she did have a brief encounter with a gentleman who urged her to leave the pageant world behind and compete in a modeling competition instead. Promptly after snagging first place in her very first modeling competition, Luann packed up and headed for New York City on a quest to become a fashion model. And that she did!
Eventually Luann’s modeling career (and a man, let’s be honest) would take her all the way to Italy where she also enjoyed a stint as a television co-host, even with limited knowledge of the Italian language. “What they loved about me was that my Italian wasn’t perfect, so they thought it was cute. I got away with a lot,” Luann dished to Vulture about the hosting gig.
And to think — she might still be taking blood pressures and administering vaccinations had she never decided to enter into that pageant!
Luann de Lesseps fell in love and married up
Luann de Lesseps is no stranger to falling head over heels in love. As reported by That Housewives Guy, Luann was already in a committed relationship with someone else when she met her future first husband, Count Alexander de Lesseps, in 1993. But after only five short days, she accepted a proposal from him anyway. “Like a thief in the night” she famously described her abrupt and sudden departure from her former relationship and running straight into the arms of the Count. Soon after, she and Alex were off to NYC to elope, and the rest is simply history … until their infamous split that is.
As reported by Us Weekly, after 16 years of marriage and two children, the couple called it quits in 2009. Tensions between the pair only worsened when after only three months of separation, Luann received an email from her estranged husband stating that he found someone else. “It said that he had met someone and they were serious,” she confessed to People. “I was devastated. I knew that we were kind of separating, but I was hoping that things were going to work out.”
Alas, Luann resolved to brush herself off and get back on the proverbial horse, dating another French gentleman by the name of Jacques for four years before entering into a very brief marriage with Tom D’Agostino in 2016 — all of which was chronicled on “Real Housewives of New York.”
Luann de Lesseps became reality TV gold
Perhaps the biggest adventure of Luann de Lesseps life, however, is her foray into reality television.
As reported by Bravo’s “The Daily Dish,” it was “RHONY” OG Jill Zarin who helped facilitate Luann’s role on the show, a show that was titled “Manhattan Moms” before ultimately becoming “Real Housewives of New York.” According to Jill, she and her late husband Bobby met Luann while at a party in NYC. “She gave me her pink business card. A pink business card! I still have it. A hot pink business card,” Jill recalled about her first time meeting Luann.
It wasn’t until later when the casting producers grilled Jill for leads on other women who might be a good fit for the show that Jill thought of Luann. “I’m in my closet getting dressed, and I see the pink card. And I grab it and I give it to the producer, Kira,” Jill explained. And just like that the Countess became reality television gold!
Luann de Lesseps got arrested
Unfortunately, the reality star’s life story and transformation is not without scandal. As reported by People, Luann de Lesseps was arrested on Christmas Eve 2017 in Palm Beach, Fla. on charges of “disorderly intoxication, battery on an officer/firefighter/EMT, resisting arrest with violence and threatening a public servant.” RUH ROH.
The story goes that trouble first began when Luann was caught trespassing in a hotel room that didn’t belong to her and then refusing to leave. According to police reports, upon being detained she resisted arrest, and in the process, injured one of the arresting officers. “Officer O’Leary then attempted to detain De Lesseps and remove her from the bathroom, at which time De Lesseps shoved Officer O’Leary with an open palm to the chest, then slammed the door on Officer O’Leary face, striking him in the forehead,” the police report stated.
After the arrest, Luann swiftly transitioned into damage control releasing a statement wherein she attributed her poor behavior to her failed marriage to her second husband and the pent-up emotions that came with traveling to the location of their nuptials.
In another statement, she also apologized for her actions and vowed to get help. “I have decided to seek professional guidance and will be voluntarily checking into an alcohol treatment center. I intend to turn this unfortunate incident into a positive life changing event. Once again, I sincerely apologize for my actions,” the statement read.
Luann de Lesseps became a cabaret star
On the heels of her very public split from Tom D’Agostino and her subsequent high-profile arrest and rehab stint, Luann de Lesseps opted to turn lemons into lemonade and embark on a brand-new adventure: cabaret!
During a candid interview with the New York Times, Luann gushed about the opportunity. “To know that the show was totally sold out and people are still trying to get tickets is a really great feeling,” she admitted. “That I get to come back and have something creative to sink my teeth into has been really helpful for me, because it’s been a rocky road, the past two years.”
But instead of shying away from her public woes, she opted to lean in and address them in her sold-out performances. “I can’t avoid the whole story of what happened to me in Palm Beach,” she maintained. “I’m trying to keep it light while also taking it seriously.”
Still, she’s careful not to quit her day job just yet. When asked about juggling filming “RHONY” with cabaret, Luann confessed to Reality Tea it’s often a delicate balancing act. “It’s been OK because my shows are mainly on the weekends and we don’t tend to film too much on the weekends. I have had to say no to venues for shows because I am filming. I try to keep as many commitments as I can and I have to be conscious of that until we are done filming the season,” she explained.
Maybe life really is a cabaret, after all!
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