It wasn’t just Bethenny Frankel’s mother, Bernadette Birk, and her stepdad, John Parisella, that the reality star turned businesswoman didn’t exactly have the greatest relationship with. Bethenny’s biological father, famous horse trainer Bobby Frankel, divorced Bernadette when Bethenny was 4 years old, and she claimed her dad made no attempts to see her or forge a relationship for several years after that.
Bobby died in November 2009 due to lymphoma (via ESPN), and he and Bethenny had a brief reconciliation before his passing. Their complicated relationship was highlighted in “The Real Housewives of New York City” episode “Housewives Overboard” (via Glamour), when the star flew to Los Angeles to see him. Bobby initially refused to meet with her, but eventually asked her to come to him while on his deathbed.
On a 2015 episode of “Larry King Now,” Bethenny opened up about her strained relationship with her father. She told the host that Bobby “wasn’t a really emotional person” and they “never really connected” when he was still alive. While they eventually did try to mend what they could and find closure near the end of his life, she said it was “a very difficult journey.” In 2019, she wished her dad, “Hall of Fame thoroughbred horse trainer whose namesake is Frankel, the champion horse,” a happy birthday on Twitter.