reality tv

There's more to MJ than just being the Kardashian grandma.

Kris Jenner wouldn't be the "momager" she is today without her own mum, Mary Jo 'MJ' Shannon.

The original Kardashian matriarch appears on Keeping Up With the Kardashians (and now The Kardashians) from time to time — including once when she convinced her daughter to join her in taking weed gummies — and is often photographed with her grandchildren.

But there's more to MJ than just being the grandma of famous reality TV stars.

Watch: Kim and Kourtney on The Kardashians. Post continues below.

Video via E! Network.

Like Kim, she's been married three times. 

Mary Jo 'MJ' Shannon was born on July 26th, 1934, in Arkansas. 

She got married at 18 to her high school sweetheart, despite their marriage only lasting two months.

"Right out of high school, I was given an engagement ring [by] a guy I had been going with for four years. And then I just thought, 'You know what? This isn't really that much fun,' so I got out of it," MJ said on KUWTK.

While Kim once told her: "We have a lot in common. We both got married for two months once."

Young MJ Shannon. Image: Instagram/@krisjenner.


MJ later married Robert True Houghton. 

The couple welcomed their first daughter Kris when MJ was 20. Three years later, they had their second, Karen. 

When Kris was seven, they divorced.

MJ raised her two daughters alone until she married her final husband, Harry Shannon. Their marriage lasted 40 years until Harry died following a car crash in 2003. 


It was devastating for the family — Kris considered him her father figure. 

Kris Jenner and her mum, MJ. Image: Instagram/@krisjenner.

She worked in fashion.

The Kardashian's admiration for fashion and business was, without a doubt, inherited from their grandmother. 

From an early age, MJ had an interest in clothes. Her mother was good at sewing, so she would design clothes while her mother would make them.


"I always designed the Jackie O look and had to have the sleeveless dress and look that way, and I loved it. That was my style," she said in an interview for the Zoe Report.

She later learnt how to sew herself, creating clothes for her daughters and opening up her own clothing stores.

MJ ran three clothing stores, an antique shop and a candle shop. Her most successful store was Shannon & Co, a children's clothes boutique. 

It was open for 30 years.

MJ in her children's store. Image: Instagram/@krisjenner.


MJ described her grandkids' attachment to the store to the Dailybeast: "They grew up playing in the store. I recall Kim sitting on this very floor and counting money."

Decades after modelling herself, MJ was invited to appear in a campaign for her granddaughter's beauty line, KKW Beauty, in 2018.

She was 83.

Image: Instagram/@krisjenner.


She's survived cancer twice.

MJ has survived cancer twice, battling both colon and breast cancer. 

"When she had cancer, the radiation shrunk her intestines, so once a year she had these crazy fits where she would be throwing up all night and literally think she was gonna die," Kim said in an episode of KUWTK

Kris has touched on her mum's battle with breast cancer, encouraging her millions of social media followers to get preventative exams. 

Kris Jenner and MJ. Image: Instagram/@krisjenner


"Just reminding everyone to go get their mammogram," she wrote in a 2018 Instagram post.

"[It's] so important and can save lives. My Mom MJ is a breast cancer survivor and so are dozens of my friends."

She's a progressive queen.

MJ is supportive of her granddaughters wearing whatever they want... or as little as they want. 

"I think you like to be nude, all you guys. And half the people on the internet. I think it's a thing now," she said in an episode of KUWTK

"I don't got it, so I don't flaunt it," she joked to Kim.

MJ added: "I always wore a bikini when I was younger. Even at home, I'd be dusting with an apron on and I'd have a bikini. So I always liked to be free."

MJ and her family. Image: Instagram/@krisjenner


In another episode, Kim shared some sex advice her grandmother gave her when she was dating Pete Davidson.

"I was like, 'My grandma told me that you really live life when you have sex in front of the fireplace,' and so we had sex in front of the fireplace in honour of you."

She's adored by her family.

In 2016 Kylie got a tattoo in honour of her grandmother. 

Her "grandmother's name in [her] grandfather's handwriting" she described the tattoo in an Instagram caption.

MJ with Kris, Kim and her grandchildren. Image: Instagram/@krisjenner


On May 15th 2022, Kourtney Kardashian and Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker legally wed in Santa Barbara. 

The couple only had two witnesses at their wedding, Travis' dad Randy Barker, and MJ Shannon, showing the love the Kardashian grandkids have for their grandma.

"So happy you could be one of the only two guests we had when we were legally married, I will always remember this day and night with you," Kourtney said. 

After celebrating MJ's 88th birthday, in a post Kris described her mum as "my best friend, my heart and my hero."

Feature Image: Instagram/@krisjenner.

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