Jodie Sweetin's Journey From Childhood To TV Star

The following article references suicide, mental health struggles, and addiction.

Jodie Sweetin taught her young fans to never let rudeness go unchecked as Stephanie Tanner, the precocious middle child on the popular, family-friendly sitcom "Full House." Sweetin herself developed a fondness for her character's famous "How rude!" catchphrase, telling "Today" that it was her favorite in Steph's repertoire of repeated lines. "It's the best one," she said. "'Pin a rose on your nose' is cute. 'Hot dog' was very rarely used, and I feel like it's kind of unoriginal."

Sweetin knows that she's indelibly linked to those two words in the minds of anyone who grew up watching "Full House." And to many nostalgic fans, she'll always be the daughter of Danny Tanner, the sister of D.J. and Michelle Tanner, and the niece of Uncle Jesse and Joey. According to Sweetin, the fictional familial bond that warmed the hearts of so many viewers wasn't too far off from the real-life dynamic between the show's cast members. "What I've learned is family isn't just what you're born into ... family is who you choose," she said, per Fox 10 Phoenix. "That is my second family. I love them. I adore them." The actors adored each other so much, in fact, that most of the original cast returned for the "Fuller House" spinoff series in 2015.

The television star's real family is also loving and supportive, and just like Stephanie, she was raised by people who were happily willing to carry her home.

Jodie Sweetin was adopted

In her memoir, "UnSweetined," Jodie Sweetin shared her adoption story. Both of her biological parents struggled with drug use and her bio mom gave birth to her while serving a prison sentence. Sweetin's bio dad was also in jail and was killed by another prisoner not long after her birth. As an infant, she was placed in the care of her biological father's aunt, whose name was Rose. The arrangement was unsustainable because Rose struggled with mental health issues, but when her ex-husband and his new wife met 9-month-old Sweetin they were ready to offer the baby girl a new life. "My parents really wanted to have kids, and they were having some struggles," Sweetin explained on Olivia Jade Giannulli's "Conversations" podcast.

In her memoir, Sweetin revealed that her parents, Sam and Janice, never hid the fact that she was adopted from her. However, when she began pursuing an acting career, they advised her not to let other people know about her adoption. Apparently, the couple was afraid that they would be accused of adopting Sweetin with the sole purpose of making her a child star. But Sweetin told Naluda Magazine that she needed no encouragement to fall in love with performing. "I used to tell my parents that I wanted to be a 'modeler' on TV, which was what I called actors," she recalled. At age 4, she landed her first big "modeling" gig: appearing in an Oscar Mayer commercial.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

She had fun on Full House and met some future megastars

In 1987, Jodie Sweetin went from sweetly singing about hot dog grease to scoring a guest spot on the sitcom "Valerie." The show's production team was in the process of casting "Full House" and realized that Sweetin was the perfect fit for the role of Stephanie Tanner. "I never really auditioned," Sweetin told Naluda Magazine. While life in the spotlight loses its shine for some child stars, Sweetin loved almost every minute of her time playing the spunky character. "I didn't consider it work," she said on "Good Morning America" (via ABC News). "When you're a little kid, it's like playing pretend ... and getting paid for it."

Sweetin had no siblings of her own, but growing up with co-stars Candace Cameron Bure, Mary-Kate Olsen, and Ashley Olsen made her feel like she did. "I had all of these soul sisters and a bigger family," she told Romper. Her "Full House" fame also provided her with other opportunities, such as appearing on "The All New Mickey Mouse Club" alongside Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, and Ryan Gosling in 1989. In "UnSweetined," she confessed to having a huge crush on Gosling. However, she quickly lost interest after she tried calling him while he was at Timberlake's house. "He was focused on goofing off with Justin, each of them daring the other to run around the house in just his underwear," Sweetin recalled. "That relationship was over before it started."

Inside the actor's turbulent teen years

Jodie Sweetin had to say goodbye to Stephanie Tanner for the first time in 1995. After playing the character for eight years, she struggled to adjust to a life without her "Full House" family. "There is a certain sense of loss after a series ends," she said during a 2006 "Good Morning America" interview. "Trying to figure out who you are at age 13 when you've just lost your job that basically identified you for the first part of your life is a little difficult." Going back to school in the real world was also tough because her peers couldn't separate her from the character they saw on TV.

It was at Candace Cameron Bure's wedding reception that a then-14-year-old Sweetin thought she'd found a solution to her woes. Because she wasn't seated with her parents, she was able to stealthily down multiple glasses of wine. "That first drink gave me the self-confidence I had been searching for all this time," she recalled in "UnSweetined." After vomiting in the bathroom and passing out, she vowed to her parents that she was finished experimenting with alcohol. However she continued to drink all through high school, further distancing herself from Danny Tanner's sweet and innocent middle child. 

Sweetin also tried auditioning for other TV series. She appeared in two 1999 episodes of "Party of Five" but lost the role of "Dawson's Creek" character Jen Lindley to Michelle Williams.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Jodie Sweetin married a police officer and hid her drug use

During her final year of high school, Jodie Sweetin attended a hockey game with Candace Cameron Bure. It was there that Sweetin met Shaun Holguin — after he got a friend to ask her for her number. "To him, I was just some girl at a hockey game and I liked that," she wrote in "UnSweetined." She started dating Holguin, but her relationship with the police academy cadet didn't help her resist the allure of the party atmosphere at Chapman University. Her alcohol consumption increased when she started college in 1999, and she also began using ecstasy and cocaine. 

With Holguin's support, Sweetin made an attempt to get sober, and the couple tied the knot in 2002. Bure served as Sweetin's matron of honor after assuring her that 19 wasn't too young to get married.

But after struggling to adjust to married life, Sweetin started using again, and meth became her drug of choice. Holguin was working as a police officer and paying for her habit, unbeknownst to him. However, her behavior put her at high risk of being discovered; in 2004, Sweetin used meth at the premiere of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's movie "New York Minute." She later told Us Weekly, "I was pulling off the deceit. ... I look at photos from that event, and I didn't even look strung out!"

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

She started her own family after returning to TV

In "UnSweetined," Jodie Sweetin recounts the night when it became impossible for her to hide her drug use from her husband. She'd been drinking heavily and doing speed, and her concerned friends called an ambulance after she passed out on a sidewalk.

In 2006, Sweetin opened up about her addiction struggles on "Good Morning America." She said that she went to rehab after her brush with death and revealed that she and Shaun Holguin had separated. Her drug use and deceitful behavior had put a significant strain on their relationship.

That same year, she landed her first steady TV gig since playing Stephanie Tanner. As host of Fuse's reality series "Pants-Off Dance-Off," the "Full House" star watched amateur strippers go the full monty in hopes of winning a cash prize. Sweetin also started touring the country to share her inspiring addiction recovery story with college students, but in "UnSweetined," she confessed that she was using drugs again and even giving speeches while high. She had relapsed by the time she met film transportation coordinator Cody Herpin in 2007. After two months of dating, the couple got hitched at a Las Vegas wedding chapel. They welcomed their daughter, Zoie, in April 2008. "You look at your baby and think, 'Wow, I did that.' It's really amazing," Sweetin told People. "It's the most overwhelming, exciting thing I've ever done."

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Her second marriage failed and she published her memoir

In September 2008, Jodie Sweetin told People that she and Cody Herpin were working on a reality series. She described it as being similar to "Tori & Dean," but added, "We're a little more rock and roll." Two months later, Sweetin blindsided Herpin by filing for legal separation.

The exes' divorce became a public spectacle once the tabloids got wind of it. In legal documents, Sweetin accused Herpin of refusing to seek employment even though the couple was struggling financially. "Our house is in foreclosure, our water has been shut off twice. Currently, all of our other utilities are overdue," Sweetin said, per People. And then, Herpin accused Sweetin of driving drunk with their daughter Zoie in the car.

When Sweetin published her memoir the following year, she admitted to putting their child at risk. She further revealed that the possibility of losing custody of Zoie because of her behavior helped motivate her to get sober. "She's what mattered most, so during the hardest of times I focused on the positive things in my life and on what I wanted for her and for me," the actor wrote in "UnSweetined." In a November 2009 "Today" interview, Sweetin confessed that she began writing her book before she got the wake-up call that she needed, but by the time of its completion, she was sober again.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Birth trauma and a birthday engagement

Jodie Sweetin found a new sweetheart in 2009. She was watching a musician friend perform at the Canter's Kibitz Room bar in Los Angeles when she met Morty Coyle, a DJ and singer in the band All Day Sucker. "Morty and I started hanging out and later dated," Sweetin told People. "We sort of couldn't help it. It was just right."

In April 2010, word got out that Sweetin was pregnant with Coyle's child, something her ex Cody Herpin was not happy about. "I'm totally disgusted with Jodie right now. ... Jodie hasn't put in nearly enough time with our daughter — and now she's having another child!" he told the National Enquirer (via Pop Crunch). Both children came frighteningly close to not having their mother in their lives at all when Sweetin went into labor that August. In an interview with People (via Hollywood Life), she revealed that she experienced so much internal bleeding after her C-section that doctors feared for her life. Thankfully, she was able to go home with her daughter after multiple blood transfusions and a two-day ICU stay. She told People that she and Coyle decided to name their daughter Beatrix in homage to Coyle's favorite band, the Beatles.

Beatrix was with her parents when Coyle popped the question at the bar where he and Sweetin first met. They were also celebrating Sweetin's 29th birthday, so their family members and friends witnessed the special moment as well.

She relapsed and began working at a rehab facility

In March 2011 — two months after she got engaged – Jodie Sweetin injured her wrist in a car crash and old demons disrupted her happy new life as a mother of two and bride-to-be. Per The Rocket, at a 2016 speech at Slippery Rock University, she told students that she was prescribed pain medication after the accident. She revealed that this caused her to relapse, and she began putting in the work to get sober again.

Sweetin headed to the altar for the third time in March 2012. She and Morty Coyle managed to keep their marriage a secret for a year before they broke the news to People. "We were absolutely committed before this, anyway," Sweetin said. But just two months after she spoke to the outlet about her wedding, she and Coyle split.

The "Full House" star then began working at a rehab facility. She'd gone back to college to become an alcohol and drug counselor, but she had to work her way up to her position as the center's logistics coordinator. "I started working as a tech ... taking out the trash and washing the dishes," she said on the "Hollywood Raw" podcast.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

The actor reunited with her Full House family

In 2015, Jodie Sweetin confirmed her involvement with Netflix's "Full House" spinoff, "Fuller House." It was clear that she missed working with her old familiar friends, and she was excited about showing viewers what was going on in Stephanie Tanner's life two decades after they last saw her on network TV. "It's great because I'm getting to work with the writers and the creators of the show. They had an idea of where she's gone and what she's been doing, and I've gotten to fill in the rest," Sweetin told Backstage.

To bring the original series' stars back together under one roof, the writers liberally borrowed from its premise, but this time around, D.J. Tanner (Candace Cameron Bure) was the widowed parent, while D.J.'s BFF Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber) and Stephanie played her supportive roomies. "Stephanie's dynamic with D.J. and Kimmy is amazing. We're all good friends in real life, and you'll see that dynamic play out," Sweetin told ET. Her on-screen dad and uncles — Bob Saget, John Stamos, and Dave Coulier — joined the fun family reunion, but the house wasn't quite as full as it could have been. Twins Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen decided not to take turns playing Michelle Tanner like they did when they were kids, and Sweetin respected their decision. "I love them and support them no matter what," she said in People.

She went on Dancing with the Stars and got engaged again

In a 2010 interview with People, Jodie Sweetin revealed that it was a dream of hers to compete on "Dancing with the Stars." She took ballet as a child and often got to showcase her skills on "Full House." But while the combination of the nostalgia factor and her experience learning choreography made her an ideal candidate for the competition, she didn't get to take a shot at winning the mirrorball trophy until 2016. Her addition to the cast was preceded by "DWTS" pros Val Chmerkovskiy and Maksim Chmerkovskiy guest-starring on an episode of "Fuller House." Sweetin was partnered with Keo Motsepe.

Sweetin's "DWTS" fan club included a new fiancé. She told People that her hubby-to-be, Justin Hodak, was a big "Full House" fan growing up, so he was also thrilled about her new scripted gig. "We met through mutual friends years ago and we reconnected a little over two years ago," Sweetin said. "It's been really good ever since." So good, in fact, that she said yes when he popped the question in January 2016.

Hodak joined Sweetin at the hospital after she injured her ankle during a "DWTS" rehearsal. The injury didn't immediately derail her dancing dreams, and she went on to finish fifth two weeks later. The timing of her elimination was almost a blessing. "We start 'Fuller House' production tomorrow, so I'm literally walking away from one amazing experience right into another," she told Us Weekly.

She found a home at Hallmark after an intense split

Jodie Sweetin broke off her engagement with Justin Hodak after they had an explosive argument in March 2017. He reacted by threatening suicide and taking a firearm with him when he left their home. Sweetin later sought a restraining order, in which she claimed that Hodak was taking steroids that exacerbated his ill temper, per TheWrap.

Hodak ended up getting arrested three times over a span of 10 days, according to ET. The first time, it was because he had previously been charged with a felony, so it was illegal for him to own a gun. He was arrested again for allegedly violating a protective order by showing up at Sweetin's house, and the third time, he reportedly breached the terms of the restraining order that Sweetin had obtained. He was later slapped with a four-month prison sentence for weapon possession and witness tampering charges. However, he faced over six years behind bars if he failed to comply with his probation requirements upon his release.

While her personal life had taken a turn for the worse, Sweetin's career was thriving. Along with fellow '90s stars Christine Lakin and Beverley Mitchell, she launched a new series called "Hollywood Darlings." She also joined Candace Cameron Bure on the Hallmark Channel, where she starred in the feel-good holiday film "Finding Santa." Sweetin told MediaVillage, "When [Bure] heard I was working with Hallmark she said, 'You're going to have a great time.'"

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

A new relationship and John Stamos' emotional revelation

In February 2018, Jodie Sweetin celebrated Valentine's Day by sharing a public declaration of love for the new man in her life, addiction therapist Mescal Wasilewski. On Instagram, she praised Wasilewski for being supportive, forgiving, and loving. He also had to be cool with a bicoastal relationship — Sweetin is an L.A. resident, and Wasilewski lived in New York when they first began dating. They were introduced by friends.

Later in 2018, Sweetin also surprised fans with a revelation about Stephanie Tanner's love life: She dated a woman at least once. On Twitter, Candace Cameron Bure revealed that Sweetin made the creative decision to make her "Fuller House" character bisexual while they were in the middle of filming a scene. Sweetin changed one of her lines to reference Steph's girlfriend, and her ad-lib was included in the episode.

John Stamos had yet another surprise in store for Sweetin fans. During Writers in Treatment's 2019 Experience, Hope & Strength Awards ceremony, he presented Sweetin with an award honoring her for sharing her recovery story in "UnSweetined." He also praised Sweetin for helping him get sober after he was arrested for a DUI in 2015. According to Variety, he said of his co-star, "When I finally humbled myself to ask for your help, I realized that the perky little blabbermouth had become the master of wisdom and was right by my side during some of the most difficult days of my life."

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Goodbye to Fuller House and hello to pandemic stress

The year 2020 was tough for Jodie Sweetin. The final episode of "Fuller House" aired months after the COVID-19 pandemic began, and she revealed that the dire state of the world took its toll on her mental health. "I've been an emotional basket case," she told ET. But at least saying goodbye to her "Full House" fam wasn't as hard the second time around. After the original series ended, she fretted over whether her castmates would stay in touch with her. "Now that I am reassured that they are not going anywhere, I feel a little bit better," she said of her less-distressing farewell experience.

Unfortunately, the pandemic prevented Sweetin from getting to see her former co-stars when she was feeling lost out there and all alone. On the "Allison Interviews" podcast, she revealed that she also became extremely stressed out while quarantining at home. "I was not a fully functioning person. It was awful," she said. "I'm a stress starver. ... I just stopped eating. I couldn't keep food down." According to Sweetin, she lost almost 40 pounds.

Luckily, Sweetin had launched her own podcast, "Never Thought I'd Say This," in 2019, so she had a job that she could do from home. She began sharing her experiences quarantining with her kids, such as throwing a socially-distanced birthday party for her daughter, Zoie. "It turned out to be one of the best moments that we had during this quarantine," she said.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

The special way she remembered the late Bob Saget

After "Fuller House" ended, Jodie Sweetin and Bob Saget stayed in touch; they appeared on each other's podcasts and reminisced about some of their good times together. While joking with Sweetin about her age on "Bob Saget's Here For You," Saget said, "I don't think I can die, I actually don't." Sweetin responded by suggesting that it's impossible for any "Full House" stars to die.

Little did Sweetin know, she'd be saying a final emotional farewell to her TV dad just a few months later. Saget died in his sleep in January 2022 after accidentally hitting his head. He was alone in a hotel room at the time. Upon learning the devastating news, Sweetin paid tribute to Saget on Instagram. She wrote in part, "I'll make sure and tell an inappropriate joke at your funeral. In your honor. I know you would've wanted that. But you were supposed to be here longer ... How Rude."

Days later, Mescal Wasilewski gave Sweetin a reason to smile through her tears by asking her to marry him. While Saget's absence was felt at her wedding, Sweetin told E! News that he was there in spirit, thanks to a last-minute wardrobe change that John Stamos made before the event — without realizing it, he had put on one of Saget's old shirts. "I like kissed the shirt and I was like, 'Bob's here too,'" Sweetin recalled.

Jodie Sweetin took a stand against her TV sister

Jodie Sweetin's activism has always been important to her. While protesting the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June 2022, she was shoved to the ground by an LAPD officer. She's also a strong supporter of the LGBTQ+ community.

Sweetin's relationship with Hallmark was still going strong during the 2022 holiday season, with her fans scoring an all-inclusive stay at "A Cozy Christmas Inn." However, her "Fuller House" castmate Candace Cameron Bure had left the network to create similar seasonal fare for the Great American Family channel. Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Bure shared one way her new home would differ from Hallmark: it wouldn't feature films centered on same-sex couples. After JoJo Siwa expressed her disappointment over Bure's remarks, Sweetin showed her support for the singer on Instagram. "You know I love you," she wrote in the comments. Bure later unfollowed Sweetin. She was reportedly upset with Sweetin for publicly shaming her instead of reaching out to her in private. "Jodie does not agree with Candace's remarks and wanted to show where she stands," a source explained to ET.

But maybe someday when they're old and gray, the creators of cozy Christmas content will put those sharpened candy canes down. In an interview with E! News, Sweetin pitched an idea for a "Full House" reboot inspired by "The Golden Girls." Her title suggestion? "Fullest House."