Strange Facts About The Olsen Twins' Childhood

If you were alive during the '90s, there's a pretty good chance you've seen the smiling faces of Mary-Kate and Ashley a.k.a. the Olsen twins. But behind those smiles were two young girls thrust into the Hollywood industry before they even learned to walk. Thanks to literally growing up in front of TV audiences on the hit sitcom Full House, the twins were able to leverage their fame into a direct-to-video empire before a brief stint as tabloid fixtures and a box-office bomb made them flee from the spotlight. So let's take a look back at the Olsen twins' journey from tiny entertainment powerhouses to reclusive fashion designers who really don't want to relive their early days on Full House.

They started acting at nine months old by accident

When the twins landed their first and most famous role as infant daughter Michelle Tanner on Full House, they were barely nine months old. The two shared the part so producers had a workaround for strict child labor laws, and apparently the whole thing happened by accident thanks to their mom Jarnette Olsen being friends with a casting agent.

"The girls became television stars by a fluke," Rolling Stone writes. "Jarnette's friend represented a Burbank casting agency that was looking for twins. For the hell of it, Jarnette sent a photo, and soon she got a call from the Full House folks to bring the girls to audition for the role of Michelle (infants only work about twenty minutes at a time, so twins give you forty minutes). The producers were immediately charmed by the unfazed Olsens, and in short order they got the job."

That's some fluke. Most baby accidents involve forgetting a change of diapers, or a tumble off the changing table. Not the Olsen twins. They cooed their way into a television role that would make them worth $150 million each by their 18th birthday. But it wasn't all easy.

John Stamos had them fired

Considering the fact that they were barely alive for an entire year, it shouldn't have been a surprise that the baby actresses weren't total professionals. But apparently John Stamos missed that memo and reportedly had the twins fired. Or in his words, removed from the set, according to Entertainment Weekly.

"It's sort of true that the Olsen twins cried a lot," Stamos said. "It was very difficult to get the shot. So I [gesturing], 'Get them out...!' That is actually 100 percent accurate. They brought in a couple of unattractive redheaded kids. We tried that for a while and that didn't work. [Producers] were like, all right, get the Olsen twins back. And that's the story."

Gee, we can't imagine why the twins didn't jump at the chance to star in the Netflix spin-off Fuller House when Stamos came calling.

They had to wear dentures while filming

Fun fact: apparently twins don't lose their baby teeth at the same time, which caused some problems on the set of Full House. According to ABC News, Mary-Kate and Ashley had to wear dentures so their teeth matched whenever they took turns filming, which seems a little weird. We're not sure how closely TV audiences paid attention to Michelle's teeth, and frankly, we don't want to know. Not to mention, the twins were learning at a very young age to be conscious about their physical appearance, which would pop up later in their lives as a teenage Mary-Kate struggled with anorexia.

Their popularity was second only to Bill Cosby

By the show's fourth season in 1991, the Olsen twins were far and away the stars of Full House, according to a Washington Post profile that same year. At only four and a half years old, Mary-Kate and Ashley had already achieved a level of fame that rivaled seasoned professionals. "Steven Levitt, president of Marketing Evaluations/TVQ, the Port Washington, N.Y., measurer of national popularity, gives the twins an appeal rating of 48, just below Cosby's 53 and above Steven Spielberg's 45." Have mercy!

But what was the source of the twins' appeal? WaPo education columnist Jay Matthews attempted to break it down. "There was a political dimension to this. As in many families with children, control of the channel changer in the early evening hours was tightly held by the family's youngest member. Kate Mathews, only 21 months older than the twins, saw them as spokeswomen for her needs and fears, and made life miserable for anyone who dared switch to a baseball game or the news."

However, if Lifetime's The Unauthorized Full House Story is to believed, the Olsen twins' fame did not sit well with stars Stamos, Bob Saget, and Dave Coulier and caused friction on set, according to the Chicago Tribune. But that pales in comparison to what the twins' success reportedly did to their parents' marriage.

Their parents allegedly divorced because of their fame

While it's true that Mary-Kate and Ashley's mother Jarnie accidentally got the ball rolling on their TV fame thanks to her casting agent friend, there are conflicting reports on which of the twins' parents was more interested in keeping their financial success going. And it seems that was the case behind the scenes because the Olsen twin's parents divorced in 1995, which The Unauthorized Full House Story attributed to the girls growing entertainment empire.

"In the Lifetime film, this doesn't sit well with Mary-Kate and Ashley's mother, Jarnie Olsen," writes the Washington Post. "who is horrified that combined with their lucrative direct-to-video movie series, her daughters are millionaires at age 7. The movie blames this for Jarnie's divorce from the twins' father, Dave Olsen. ('The twins are so wildly successful that sometimes that creates more problems than people can handle,' one character whispers.)"

And while the details from the Lifetime film are murky, the Olsen twins seriously started their own company called Dualstar Entertainment Group when they were only seven. Granted, they had help from a lawyer and friend of the family who negotiated a significant increase in their Full House salaries, according to People. But how many seven year olds do you know with their own company? That couldn't have been easy on Mom and Dad.

Mary-Kate doesn't look back at her childhood fondly

In a 2010 interview with Marie Claire, Mary-Kate spoke candidly about her early acting career that started almost the moment she was born. And in a notable turn from Olsen twin interviews during their teen years, she doesn't look back on the experience fondly. In fact, Mary-Kate refers to her time in front of the camera with her sister as "little monkey performers." Yikes.

"I look at old photos of me, and I don't feel connected to them at all." Mary-Kate said. "I would never wish my upbringing on anyone."

Mary-Kate's regretful feelings about her acting days could explain why the twins' younger sister Lizzie, now better known as Marvel actress Elizabeth Olsen, stopped appearing in the twins' movies when she was only 10 and focused on school instead of becoming a child actor, according to the San Francisco Gate. Even more telling, not even two years later, the cracks in the Olsen twins' smiling public facade would become too large to hide after their first attempt at a feature film crashed and burned.

Their post-Full House career didn't go so well

While the Olsen twin's direct-to-video series is well remembered, less known is the fact that they still attempted to pursue TV fame after Full House ended in 1995. But both of their starring shows, So Little Time and the animated series Mary-Kate and Ashley in Action!, never made it past the first season. And things didn't improve when their first theatrical release New York Minute bombed at the box office in 2004. The movie sits on Rotten Tomatoes with a disastrously low score of 11 percent. The twins' first step out into more mature territory did not go over well with critics.

"For those not part of the Olsen industrial complex, New York Minute often feels creepy and lecherous, like it was made by a family 'uncle.'" wrote the Boston Globe.

After the film's failure, the twins pulled the plug on their acting careers and headed for college at NYU. Granted, Mary-Kate popped up on Weeds and in the 2011 film Beastly, but the Olsen twins were done appearing together on-screen. They retreated to the world of fashion and quickly found their new passion: Partying. The era of the squeaky clean Olsen twins was over.

They threw shade at Paris Hilton and Tara Reid

A year before New York Minute would prompt the Olsen twins to walk away from acting, they sat down with Rolling Stone and denied increasing tabloid rumors about their partying, Mary-Kate's anorexia, and their now infamous love for cigarettes. All of which turned out to be true. But the girls were still on their tail-end of promoting their squeaky clean image, so they made some choice remarks about other celebrities that did not age well.

"The girls freely admit they're not the Hilton sisters," writes Rolling Stone. "They don't smoke or drink. 'We don't, but I'm not one to judge,' says Mary-Kate. And they are adamant that they're not going to have a Tara Reid-style freakout in years to come."

Awkward. Because it wouldn't be long before the girls were hitting the party scene as hard as Paris Hilton and Tara Reid, according to People. "Both sisters soon left NYU — and became better known as bizarrely garbed fashionistas with a penchant for dancing on nightclub tables and subsisting on cigarettes, sweets and Starbucks lattes." A source close to the twins put it more bluntly. "They both changed a lot; they got real crazy. ... They definitely started going a little bit hardcore."

Spencer Pratt sold a photo of Mary-Kate to the tabloids

Despite the Olsen twins' fame, it wasn't exactly easy for the tabloids to get photographs of them in compromising situations. That's where shady characters like former The Hills star Spencer Pratt come into play. Pratt and Mary-Kate Olsen had a very public feud in 2008 after she told David Letterman about his temper tantrums on the soccer field. Pratt responded by calling her "the less cute twin." But as People discovered, the feud actually started back in high school when Pratt mad $50,000 by selling the tabloids a photograph of Mary-Kate drinking at a party, which only further cemented his image as one of the shadiest "celebrities" in reality TV history.

Websites actually counted down to their 18th birthday

Thanks in no small part to opportunists like Pratt, tabloid fever for the Olsen twins was already at a fevered pitch. But the situation snapped into overdrive as they neared their 18th birthday in June 2004 and several websites went so far to host countdowns to the twins turning "legal."

"Even with the competition of Ronald Reagan's funeral and that dog that can fetch objects by name, everyone from wacky morning DJs to big city news-gathering organizations were falling over themselves to spread the news," reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "'Lock up the boyfriend,' a New York Post article announced on the twins' birthday. 'The Olsen twins are legal—and they're loaded.'"

Pretty gross, right? But not only was the twins' 18th birthday marred by the pervy social norms of the time, the two wouldn't even spend the momentous occasion together as the media soon learned that Mary-Kate's long-rumored battle with anorexia had reached a breaking point.

Mary-Kate went to rehab for anorexia

In the weeks leading up to the twins' 18th birthday, Mary-Kate had been publicly denying rumors that her increasingly skinny frame was the product of an eating disorder. She even went on Saturday Night Live and joked about the situation by telling an extra who was playing her to "eat a sandwich," according to the New York Post.

But behind the scenes, her family had been struggling to get Mary-Kate help for years after she crashed her car not long after her 16th birthday. But the situation only deteriorated even after having an adult monitor her meals at school. Realizing they needed to act fast before she turned 18, Mary-Kate's father and a therapist had her committed to a treatment facility right after her high school graduation. "They finally reached the point where they had to act. They didn't want to find her dead on the floor from not eating," a source told People.

Fortunately, Mary-Kate recovered from the experience and looks back on the situation as a valuable learning experience about knowing when to seek help. "Everybody is going to go through hard times. It's a part of life. I think the hardest part to get to is that point of asking for help or reaching out to other people and being honest with yourself. I do not want to go through my life with my eyes shut." she told Elle.

They partied two days after Heath Ledger overdosed

After spending their teen years worrying about opportunists like Pratt profiting off of their private lives, it only makes sense that that the twins would have trouble letting people get close to them. But their demeanor became known as especially frosty when Heath Ledger overdosed while "casually dating" Mary-Kate. In fact, Access Hollywood reports Mary-Kate was the first person Ledger's massage therapist called after discovering his body, which raised a few eyebrows. But not even two days later, the twins would already be spotted clubbing in Manhattan, according to People, who spoke to sources that painted the Olsen twins as extremely closed off.

"They are cold," a friend told the magazine. "They're not mean like Paris or Lindsay, but they are really only close to their boyfriends and each other. They're kind of emotionally uninterested in friends. We aren't talking about normal people here."

And things would get even shadier when the feds started poking around Ledger's death.

Mary-Kate wanted immunity before talking to feds about Ledger

As the Drug Enforcement Administration began its probe into Ledger's death from a potent cocktail of legally and illegally obtained prescription drugs, Mary-Kate reportedly refused to cooperate with investigators unless she was granted immunity, according to the New York Post. As for why her lawyers would make such a request, there was speculation that some of the drugs that killed Ledger were allegedly provided by Mary-Kate or that she may have knowledge of how Ledger illegally obtained OxyContin.

Despite threats of a subpoena, Mary-Kate would escape scrutiny altogether when the feds abruptly closed the case without questioning her as prosecutors "don't believe there's a viable target," Fox News reported. How Ledger obtained his assortment of illegal drugs would remain a mystery.

As for asking Mary-Kate about this dark chapter in her life, don't even try as Elle found out. "I'm not going to comment on that. I won't give you a word about that in the nicest way possible. Let's move on."

They didn't stay close with the Full House cast

While most of the Full House cast remained close, the Olsen twins' refusal to take part in the Netflix spin-off Fuller House exposed their animosity with their TV family. "The rest of them have remained a family since the show ended, but no one can really tolerate Mary Kate or Ashley. Everyone kind of knew that this would happen though," a source told Radar Online. "Those girls stole the show as Michelle Tanner. But their egos exploded once they turned old enough to realize how famous they were when they were just babies."

Lori Loughlin, who played Aunt Becky on the show, shared her own opinion with Access Hollywood on the Olsen twins' lack of interest in a reunion. "It doesn't matter how much money they get paid, they don't care."

To put a point on how disinterested the Olsen twins are in revisiting their past, E! Online reports, that their publicists have been told to insist that they're referred to individually and not as the Olsen twins. Whoops! Sorry, Olsen... people?

It's all about fashion now

With their Olsen twins days far behind them, and their acting careers on ice, Mary-Kate and Ashley are all about dominating the New York City fashion scene now. And who can blame them for turning their backs on Hollywood? They've been acting since almost the moment they were born, and their childhood was broadcasted onto millions of television sets at the cost of their parents' marriage. They've more than earned a break from the spotlight, along with some wild nights, as Mary-Kate and Ashley forge their new identities as fashionistas no longer living in the shadow of Full House.