Watch CBSN Live

Paris Hilton's Mom Back In The Spotlight

The Hilton who made the most noise in and out of court last week wasn't named Paris.

Kathy Hilton, mother of the notorious party girl, became a media magnet herself at her daughter's probation-violation hearing. She laughed in the courtroom when a city prosecutor argued that Paris deserved jail time. When a judge ordered the 26-year-old Paris to serve 45 days in county jail, Mrs. Hilton blurted out: "May I have your autograph?"

She also shared her feelings with reporters outside: "This is pathetic and disgusting, a waste of taxpayer money with all this nonsense. This is a joke."

While her media exposure doesn't rival that of her famous daughter, Kathy Hilton is no stranger to the spotlight.

She was a guest star on "Happy Days" in 1977 and appeared on "The Rockford Files" in '78. She hosted a program on QVC, and in 2005, she starred in her own NBC reality show, "I Want to Be a Hilton," in which contestants competed for a chance to live like a socialite for a year.

Accompanying her adult daughter to court made Hilton a public face again. She was likely on hand out of typical parental concern, said Dorian Traube, a professor of social work at the University of Southern California.

"Any time your kids stumble, you question yourself as a parent," she said. "She has one daughter that's done really well and another that keeps stumbling in the public eye. For a family that's very prominent, it's probably quite humiliating."

Photos: Paris And The Police
While it is common for families to come and show support in high-profile court cases, Hilton's outspoken behavior during and after the session was a little unusual, Traube said.

"Kathy Hilton acted as if her daughter was a minor in the way she had to give a statement," the professor said. "Not only is she enabling Paris' behavior, she's perpetuating it."

Kathy Hilton was 19 when she gave birth to Paris in 1981, just two years after marrying Rick Hilton, a real estate developer and an heir to the Hilton Hotel fortune. The couple has another daughter, Nicky, and two teenage sons, Barron and Conrad.

Hilton has publicly defended Paris before, calling her "vulnerable."

"She's eccentric, she's herself and she never hurts anybody," she told the London newspaper The Guardian in December 2005. "It upsets me that she gets taken advantage of, but I think we've all learned to deal with it."

Hilton compared her daughter to "Bambi" in a 2005 interview with The Times of London.

"She's like a little deer," she said.

When a homemade sex tape called "One Night in Paris" surfaced on the Internet, Kathy Hilton characterized her daughter as a victim.

"Well, that was very painful. Very painful. Very painful," she told Newsweek in June 2005. "But it taught me that I really can't trust everybody."

Hilton is active with various charities, including Operation Smile, City of Hope and the Los Angeles Junior League.

Her flirtation with reality TV was just for fun, she said. (Rick Hilton was an executive producer on the show.)

"I'm lucky because I only do things because I want to," Hilton told The Guardian. "I did my TV show, for example, because I wanted to make a difference. It's not just another reality show with a load of Harvard graduates. The people on my show haven't had many opportunities. OK, we're not saving lives, but it's thrilling to see their reactions to staying in hotel suites, when they'd never seen a Jacuzzi before, or been on an airplane."

Hilton's spokeswoman did not return calls for comment. Meanwhile, Paris Hilton rehired her publicist, Elliot Mintz, late Monday. They had parted ways over the weekend following her court appearance, during which Mintz testified that he gave her erroneous advice about the status of her suspended driver's license.

"She continues to be my client," he said Tuesday. "I'm delighted and honored to represent Paris. I think the world of her."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.