If the latest addition to The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cast has you thinking that Real Sisters of Beverly Hills could well have been the alternative title for the franchise, you’re not alone. Sisters Kim and Kyle Richards formed the foundation for the show and acted as its guiding stars for a decade. Now Kathy Hilton, the eldest of the three and matriarch of the Hilton dynasty, has joined the cast as a friend.

While the producers had been chasing Kathy to sign on to the show for several years, the timing had never been right for her, until now. “What I’ve learned in life is never say never,” she says, “My sister Kyle and I had gone through some ups and downs in our relationship so when she started calling me, and literally she was not going to take no for an answer, I thought, this is a great opportunity to spend time with her.”

Hilton is certainly no stranger to the screen. As a child actor she appeared in shows including Bewitched, Happy Days and The Rockford Files; more recently she hosted the game show I Want To Be a Hilton and popped up in The World According to Paris, along with a few guest appearances on Real Housewives. No wonder then that she didn’t feel the need to get the green light from her daughters, Paris Hilton and Nicky Hilton Rothschild, when it came to signing on the dotted line. “I didn’t even discuss it with the girls because I knew they wouldn’t like it. Once I really made up my mind, I thought I’m just going to avoid their calls,” she says. “My husband and the boys didn’t have any problem with it. They know that I’m not going to get in there and make a fool of myself and be embarrassing and fight. That’s just not who I am.”

As a friend, rather than a housewife, Hilton could not only deftly sidestep the squabbles the show is known for but was also able to assume the lofty role of den mother, dispensing enigmatic words of wisdom to the other cast members when the mercury started to rise. The trailer provided a teaser with Kathy telling Kyle that “life is a poker game and everybody has to show their cards.” “I would have loved to have been a psychiatrist or therapist. I really do like helping people walk through it,” she says. “When the girls got angry and wanted to get up and leave I would say, ‘Please just sit down, let’s just calm down. Remember, once you ring the bell, you can’t unring the bell.’” A self confessed prankster, Hilton says she also felt she could bring some light humor to show with her signature practical jokes “I’m not about drama,” she says. “I just want to have fun.”