"Real Housewives of New Jersey" newbie Dolores Catania has actually been part of the extended "RHONJ" circle for years, but she tells OMJ.com that she was actually supposed to be one of titular housewives in the first season but dropped out, paving the way for Danielle Staub to join the cast.RELATED: RHONJ’s Dolores Catania on Her Botched Breast Surgery: They Looked Like Rocks in a Sock
Haledon's Catania, who is long divorced with two children (although she still has a cozy relationship with her ex-husband, as seen by his bankrolling of her kitchen renovation in season 7), decided to leave the show mid-taping for two reasons, she explains.
"My children were little at the time and they were at an age when they needed me, and the first season of 'Housewives' was taking a lot from everybody because it was huge." Also, she says, she had mixed feelings about playing the role of the "single girl," and "the way they were producing back then was not going to put me in a very good light. That was a parental decision for me. And they scrambled around to find someone."
They came up with Staub, a larger-than-life divorcee from Wayne who bragged about her romantic entanglements and wealth. A little digging into Staub's past by her co-stars (or savvy producers) turned up some less savory details, including an arrest for being part of a kidnapping for ransom plot, her admitted work as a stripper, and allegations she worked as a prostitute. That devolved into the instantly iconic "RHONJ" confrontation in which co-star Teresa Giudice attempting to flip a table on Staub.