The Truth About The Olsen Twins' Parents

Not many can say they were millionaires before they hit puberty. But Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen claimed the spotlight, and its resulting wealth, at a very young age.

The fraternal twins began their long-lasting career at just nine months old as Full House's Michelle Turner, who they played in a joint role. Throughout their young adulthood and teen years, they catapulted into iconic stardom, with many more TV and film roles. Combined with their income from their successful clothing line, The Row, they're now worth around $500 million, per Celebritynetworth. While that might sound like a hefty sum, it's not surprising for a pair whose careers began when they were just infants. By the fourth grade, they were already multimillionaires (via Entertainment Weekly).

Behind the Olsen twins' early-established success were two parents who worked hard to make it happen. Jarnette and David Olsen were not only driving factors behind the twins' stardom, but they also had some complications of their own. They had their ups and downs as the parents of a family in the limelight. In addition to the twins, they're also parents to older daughter Elizabeth and younger son Trent, both of whom have acting careers as well. Here's a look behind the scenes at these show biz parents.

They were skeptical of 'Full House' at first

According to Life and Style Mag, Mama Olsen was pressured into auditioning the twins for Full House. In the beginning, their father was opposed to it. "I didn't even want to be bothered with it," David Olsen told The Washington Post in a 1991 profile of the twins' success. "I said, 'Honey, if you want to do this, fine.'"

After the twins landed the gig, their parents again hesitated to continue their career at such a young age and even considered pulling them from the TV show after the first season. When they decided to continue with the twins' joint role as Michelle Turner, however, their skepticism soon turned to surprise as the twins' popularity exploded.

"They utilize their personalities pretty well," David told The Washington Post. "They're just kind of funny. They were almost like chimpanzees when they were little. You just dress them up and they're fun. I guess they're just photogenic."

They worked the twins hard

Similar to Kris Jenner, who is known as the mega-manager of the Kardashian family, the Olsen parents also co-managed their daughters' careers. They started a company, Dualstar, which created countless Olsen twin movies, books, merchandise, and more (via Nylon). Though Ashley Olsen insisted that her parents were never "stage parents" (via People), early fame wasn't always easy on the young twins. Mary-Kate Olsen told Marie Clarie in 2010 that she "wouldn't wish [her] upbringing on anyone" and recalled being a "monkey performer" for the screen.

In a 2009 interview with Marie Claire, Ashley also recalled the pressure of their busy lifestyle. "I look back at the things that we did and the clothes that we wore, and I think, 'Wow, we really were troupers.' It was almost like I was in the army," she explained. "School, work, homework, fly to New York, get in at 2 in the morning, do a morning show at 5 a.m., then another one at 7, then a radio interview at 10, you know?" She even noted her surprise at not "ending up" like Britney, who had a public meltdown in 2007.

They divorced when the twins were young

As the "dadager" of the family, David Olsen's relationship with Mary-Kate and Ashley has been rumored to be complicated at times (via Life and Style Mag). To add to the complex dynamic, David and Jarnette Olsen also divorced in 1996, when the twins were just nine years old, per Entertainment Weekly

That same year, David married his former secretary, McKenzie Olsen (via IMDb). The couple went on to have two children together, Courtney Taylor Olsen and Jake Olsen. Tabloids and other media coverage painted the experience as a strenuous time for the twins, who were allegedly split in their loyalties. When David married McKenzie, Mary-Kate reportedly attended the affair while Ashley stayed home, according to Entertainment Weekly

But David insisted that the experience wasn't difficult at all"The reality is that the transition has been very smooth," Dave claimed to EW in the family's first interview after the split. "Everyone sees eye to eye. The girls are fine."

And in a 2004 People profile, Ashley confirmed that the split wasn't as dramatic as it seemed. "To be honest, we were kind of busy at that point," she said. "We had so many people that loved us that we were like, 'That's okay. Things will be better this way.' We were very mature for our age."

David's rumored financial woes

Despite managing the twins and creating a successful brand that has since cashed in millions, David Olsen may have still run into financial problems. In 2010, tabloids and gossip blogs began reporting that David had filed for bankruptcy. Rumors held that David had fallen behind on mortgage payments for his home in Tarzana, California. Owing the bank about $2.2 million, he allegedly opted to file for bankruptcy to avoid losing the house. 

Many wondered at the time why his daughters, who took over their company Dualstar after they turned 18, didn't come to his aid, and fans were full of speculation about a possibly strained father-daughter relationship. However, none of these rumors were ever confirmed, and the twins have had nothing but positive things to say about their parents to the media. Given how private the Olsen twins tend to be, we may never know what happened for sure.

In May 2020, Mary-Kate Olsen began going through a messy divorce of her own. She filed for an emergency divorce from her husband, Olivier Sarkozy, but her request was denied