Growing Up Olsen: What The Twins' Childhoods Were Like (20 Facts)

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have been in the spotlight for nearly their entire lives. From the ripe old age of nine months, they were cast on the sitcom Full House, which would go on to become one of the most popular shows on ABC at the time.

After rising to prominence in their shared role of Michelle Tanner, the twins discovered that they had a global fan base and a platform from which to launch a brand that would set them up for life.

Following their time on Full House, the Olsens acted in other projects and a series of films that were produced by their very own production company. They went on to dabble in other business ventures, eventually finding their feet in the fashion industry, where they now head a billion-dollar empire.

Most children and teenagers who grew up in the era of the Olsen twins watched with envy as Mary-Kate and Ashley walked red carpets, were chauffeured in limos, and traveled around the country. But what was it really like to be two of the biggest child stars in the world?

Check out our list below of facts that few people know about the childhood of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.

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20 They Started Working When They Were Babies

Seventeen Magazine

Not many of us can say that we started working when we were just babies, but Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen can. These two began acting on Full House, where they shared the role of Michelle Tanner, when they were just nine months old.

But the twins were actually cast as Michelle three months before they began filming, which means that they did their first audition at six months. We’re not sure exactly what went down at the audition, but Screen Rant reports that the girls were one of the few sets of twins not to cry in front of the producers.

19 They Had To Wear Dentures On The Set Of Full House


Having two people play the role of one person on a TV show can get complicated. When the girls were babies, it didn’t matter so much, but as they started to grow up, and went through physical changes at different times, the makers of Full House found themselves in some tricky positions!

At one point, both girls were required to wear dentures so they had exactly the same smile. When they started losing their baby teeth at different rates, there were continuity issues with Michelle’s smile, and so the Olsen twins had to wear fake teeth to hide the fact that they were two different people.

18 They Shared A Production Company At The Age Of 6

Seventeen Magazine

Full House was hugely successful and launched Mary-Kate and Ashley to global fame. Their parents wanted to make sure that their futures were just as successful, and so when the girls were six years old, they set up a production company for them called Dualstar Entertainment Group.

So even if they didn’t completely know what was going on at the time, they were technically the owners of a production company at the age of six. In the years following Full House, Dualstar produced many of the twins’ movies. The last feature movie produced by the company was New York Minute in 2004.

17 They Had A Clothing Line Before High School


Not only did the girls become actors and producers before they hit their teens, but they also became real fashion designers. At the age of 12, the girls’ brand included their very own clothing line, which was sold at Wal-Mart. It was targeted at girls between the ages of four and 14 and gave the twins a taste of life as fashion designers.

In the end, they found that their passion lay in the world of fashion rather than the world of acting, and went on to undertake many more fashion pursuits through their teens and 20s. In 2006, they started their own fashion company, The Row.

16 Their Parents Split In The 1990s

Vanity Fair

The pressure of having a child star—or two child stars—in the family can cause a lot of stress within a marriage. In 1995, after their daughters had achieved success on Full House, Dave and Jarnett Olsen decided to end their marriage. Dave went on to marry his former secretary, McKenzie Taylor, and had two more children.

While the cause of their split isn’t known, fans speculate that they were in disagreement about professional choices regarding their daughters. Some sources reported (via Screen Rant) that the divorce divided the twins, with Mary-Kate attending her father’s wedding and Ashley opting to stay home with her mother.

15 Mary-Kate Had To Dye Her Hair So People Could Tell Them Apart


Only hard-core fans have no trouble telling Mary-Kate and Ashley apart. They looked so similar as babies that they were even able to play the same character without viewers realizing until later on! As the girls grew older, they became tired of friends (and fans!) not being able to tell them apart, so Mary-Kate dyed her blonde locks brown to help people distinguish her from her sister.

What’s interesting is that although they look very similar, they’re not actually identical twins. They’re sororal (the female version of fraternal) twins, according to Bustle, which means that it’s just a coincidence that they look like clones of one another!

14 Their Brother Sold Their Autographs At School

Entertainment Weekly

It’s clear that strong entrepreneurial genes run in the Olsen family, and it’s not only Mary-Kate and Ashley who have been blessed with them. Their older brother, James Trent Olsen, today considers himself an entrepreneur, according to Screen Rant, and this began back when he was at school.

Sources report that James used to sell his classmates signed photos of his famous sisters, and made a nice profit out of it. “I definitely bought one,” an anonymous old classmate revealed to the New York Post back in 2014. “We all did!” Meanwhile, their younger sister Elizabeth has followed the twins’ acting footsteps into the Marvel cinematic universe.

13 They Made Bank By The Time They Turned Double Digits

Vanity Fair

Today, the Olsens’ fashion empire is said to be worth a billion dollars. But the girls are no strangers to money since they were still children when they first made bank.

By the time they were 10, they were millionaires, earning income from Full House and other acting projects including To Grandma’s House We Go, Double, Double, Toil and Trouble, How the West Was Fun, It Takes Two, and The Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley. Their faces were also planted on merchandise like board games, toys, dolls, video games, and make-up, all of which added to the stores in their bank accounts.

12 They Were The First Twins To Appear On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame


Mary-Kate and Ashley are different from other twins in a lot of ways. They broke not one, but two records when they received their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004. At the time, they were just 18 years old, making them the youngest stars ever to receive a place on Hollywood Boulevard, according to Screen Rant.

But they were also the very first twins from any industry to be honored with a star. Prior to that, Jimmy Boyd became the youngest performer to be honored by the Walk of Fame when he received a star 40 years earlier at the age of 20.

11 They Share Many Memories From Childhood


Some believe that the connection between twins can go beyond just love and affection—some twins are said to have telepathic powers with which they can think the same thoughts at the same time and finish each other’s sentences. While this has never been proven, the Olsen twins certain share many of the same memories, to the point where they can’t remember which one of them certain things happened to.

“Some of our memories are shared,” Mary-Kate explained in an interview with Vogue in 2011. “We don’t know what actually happened to whom. One of us was stung by a bee, but we can’t remember who because we both felt it.”

10 John Stamos Didn’t Enjoy Working With Them

Us Weekly

Much to the dismay of fans, Mary-Kate and Ashley did not return to be part of the reunion Fuller House. The sisters feel more at home in the fashion world rather than the acting world, but their decision to not participate in Fuller House could also come down to tension between cast members.

Nicki Swift reports that their co-star John Stamos, who played Uncle Jesse, actually had them fired. “It’s sort of true that the Olsen twins cried a lot,” he said, before admitting that he asked to have them replaced. “They brought in a couple of unattractive redheaded kids. We tried that for a while and that didn’t work.”

9 Success Was Hard To Find After Full House


By the time Full House finished in 1995, the Olsen twins were international stars, but it was still hard to find acting success to match that which they found on the sitcom. The last film their production company released, New York Minute, may be a favorite among some fans, but it didn’t fare so well with the critics.

The movie grossed only $5.96 million its opening weekend, despite opening in more than 3,000 theatres around the country. The Boston Globe bashed the film and wrote that it seemed as if “the family uncle” had made it. And the animated cartoon, Mary-Kate and Ashley in Action!, only lasted for one season.

8 They Didn’t Stay In Dorms At College

Chicago Tribune

Despite already being millionaires, Mary-Kate and Ashley still decided to attend college after they graduated high school. But when they went to NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study in 2004, they didn’t stay in shabby college dorms like most other students do.

Instead, YourTango reports that they purchased the top floor of a local high rise for a cool $7.3 million and resided there in between classes. Being as famous as they are, they probably would have been targeted by other students and wouldn’t have had any privacy if they stayed in a regular dorm, so we understand their decision!

7 As Child Actors, They Weren’t Considered Individuals

Life & Style

When they first emerged onto the scene as Michelle Tanner, the Olsens were actually credited as one person: Mary-Kate Ashley Olsen. This continued throughout the early seasons of the show and was a way of hiding the fact that Michelle was actually played by twins.

Eventually, it became common knowledge that Mary-Kate and Ashley were two separate people, but it’s a little worrying that they weren’t considered individuals at the beginning of their work. Today, it’s been reported that their publicists ask for them to be referred to separately, as Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen, rather than the Olsen twins.

6 Their Fashion Industry Experience Began When They Were Babies

Us Weekly

It looks like Mary-Kate and Ashley have found their calling in the fashion industry, as their work in fashion and cosmetics has evolved into a billion-dollar empire. In 2012, they actually won the WSJ Magazine Innovator of The Year Award, and today, they head fashion labels The Row, Elizabeth and James, Olsenboye, and StyleMint.

Their work in fashion came after their acting days, but few people know that they actually had their first taste of high-end designs when they were still babies. While playing Michelle Tanner on Full House, the girls wore designers like Chanel and Marc Jacobs. No wonder they learned to love fashion!

5 Only One Of The Twins Was Nominated For An Emmy


The Olsen twins do almost everything together, work together on several business ventures, have acted together, and if you’ve watched their interviews, you’ll know that they even finish each other’s sentences. But they aren’t complete clones, and sometimes their experiences do differ!

After Mary-Kate and Ashley were cast in the daytime show So Little Time, only one sister was given recognition with an Emmy nomination: Mary-Kate, who tends to be a natural at comedic scenes. Instead of being jealous of her twin, Ashley was happy for her and was right by her side to support her when the Emmys were broadcasted.

4 Mary-Kate Dealt With Health Issues While In The Public Eye

Brit + Co

In 2004, it was revealed that Mary-Kate was dealing with health issues relating to her eating habits and was receiving treatment. “This is a challenge that Mary-Kate has made a decision to face,” revealed her representative, Michael Pagnotta. “This is a challenge she will meet.”

The fashion designer has never directly commented on this period of her life, but in a 2008 interview with Elle, she revealed how important it is to ask for help when you need it. “Everybody is going to go through hard times,” she said. “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.”

3 Ashley Compared Her Childhood Schedule To Being In The Army


Mary-Kate and Ashley’s upbringing was certainly unique, and the twins have never been shy about revealing how much hard work went into obtaining success as such a young age. In a 2009 interview with Marie Claire, Ashley admitted that she and her sister faced a lot of pressure while they were growing up in the spotlight.

“I look back at the things that we did and the clothes that we wore, and I think, ‘Wow, we really were troupers,’” she said. “It was almost like I was in the army. School, work, homework, fly to New York, get in at two in the morning, do a morning show at 5 a.m., then another one at seven, then a radio interview at 10, you know?”

2 And Mary-Kate Wouldn’t Wish Their Childhood On Anyone

W Magazine

Ashley isn’t the only twin who has opened up about how tough it was to be a child star. “I look at old photos of me, and I don’t feel connected to them at all,” she said in a 2010 interview with Marie Claire, before comparing herself and her sister to “little monkey performers.”

“I would never wish my upbringing on anyone … but I wouldn’t take it back for the world.” Even though there were sacrifices that had to be made and a lot of tough times to go through, it looks like the sisters are also grateful for the opportunities they’ve been given and the success they’ve experienced.

1 They Missed Some Milestones Because Of Work


One of the biggest sacrifices that Mary-Kate and Ashley had to make was giving up certain childhood and teenage milestones in order to meet work commitments. The most notable example of this is when the twins weren’t able to attend their own high school prom because they were locked in to host Saturday Night Live on the same night.

On the show, Ashley made a joke of the situation by saying that she was sad to miss out on prom because she and her sister would “never know what it’s like to ride in a limo, and wear fancy dresses, and have someone do our hair.” Lucky they still have their sense of humor!

Sources: Screen Rant, BabyGaga, Nicki Swift, Marie Claire, Vogue, Elle

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