Katie Cleary -- the "Deal or No Deal" model whose husband committed suicide Sunday -- was so thirsty for fame she schemed to become a cast member on "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" ... a move that helped drive her husband to financial ruin ... sources close to the couple tell TMZ.
Our sources say Katie was demanding with hubby Andrew Stern, imploring him to help her penetrate the walls of Hollywood celebrity. Her big plan was to join RHOBH and she executed it by latching on to Taylor Armstrong -- once a star on the show -- and her husband Russell.
We're told Katie dragged Andrew to dinners, parties and other events where the Housewives hung, but her plan didn't work. Instead her play created a big problem, because Andrew got involved in Russell's investments and lost a bundle.
Andrew hit rock bottom financially and we're told that contributed to his downward spiral that ended Sunday when he shot himself in the head at a firing range.
And one other eerie note ... Russell and his business partner, Alan Schram, both committed suicide.