Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Fuller
Olsen (born June 13, 1986) are American actresses. Both have appeared in
television and films since infancy. Since then, they have continued their
celebrity through numerous television programs, films, interviews, as well
as commercial endorsements. Although they are virtually identical in
appearance, they are genetically different fraternal twins. (They prefer
the term "individual pair".)
The girls were born in 1986 in Sherman Oaks, California to David Olsen (b.
1953) and Jarnette (Jarnie) Fuller (b. 1954).
In 1987, the twins started their acting careers on the television series
Full House. They were hired at the age of six months and filming began
when they were nine months old. The show was widely popular during the
late 1980s and early 1990s.
Both sisters played the same character, Michelle Tanner, taking turns
during the tapings to do so, in order to comply with strict child labor
laws regarding child actors. For the first year, Ashley would cry when she
was brought on set to do a scene, so Mary-Kate had more screen time in the
Because the producers did not want viewers to know that Michelle was
played by twins, the sisters were originally credited as "Mary Kate Ashley
Olsen", but in the last season and most of season one, they were credited
as separate people. During the eight year run, Mary-Kate and Ashley made
several direct-to-video movies, in addition to Full House, such as To
Grandmother's House We Go (1992).
Shortly after the end of Full House, they began heavily merchandising
their image. They established a company called Dualstar in 1993 and their
brand has been sold in more than 3,000 stores in the United States and
over 5,300 stores worldwide. Because of this, they have been on the
Forbes' "The Celebrity 100 list" since 2002, and in 2007, Forbes ranked
them, collectively, as the eleventh-richest women in entertainment, with
an estimated net worth of $100 million.
Mary-Kate and Ashley were popular figures in the preteen market during the
late '90s and early 2000s. Their names became a cottage industry, with
their likeness seen in clothes, books, fragrances, magazines, movies and
posters. There were even Mary-Kate and Ashley fashion dolls made by Mattel
from 2000 – 2005.
They starred in the video series The Adventures of Mary-Kate & Ashley and
You're Invited to Mary-Kate & Ashley's..., the ABC show Two of a Kind, and
ABC Family's So Little Time. However, So Little Time was panned by critics
and disappointed fans. Despite this, they were ranked number three on the
VH1 program 100 Greatest Child Stars. They also appear in a few
direct-to-video movies about twins visiting places in Europe; Passport to
Paris, Winning London, and When in Rome.
In 2004, The Olsen Twins dual-hosted Saturday Night Live and they missed
their prom because of it.
Their most recent theatrical venture was in the light-hearted romantic
comedy, New York Minute, also starring Eugene Levy. The film was expected
to launch the girls into more serious adult roles, but was a box office
Mary-Kate's first acting appearance without Ashley was in the movie
Factory Girl, released in December 2006. Mary-Kate was originally in
several scenes, but only appeared in the background in the finished film.
Mary-Kate has also a recurring guest role in the third season of the
Showtime series Weeds and she is also in the 2008 independent film The
Wackness starring Ben Kingsley, with whom she shares a passionate kiss.
As the sisters have matured, there has been greater interest in their
fashion choices, with the New York Times declaring Mary-Kate a fashion
icon for pioneering her signature (and now popular among celebrities and
fans alike) "homeless" look. The style, sometimes referred to as "ashcan"
or "Boho-chic" or bohemian-bourgeois,, is similar to that of Bohemian chic
popularised in Britain by Kate Moss and Sienna Miller. The look consists
of oversized sunglasses, boots, loose sweaters, and flowing skirts all
with an aesthetic of mixing high end pieces with low end. Their fashion
choices, however, haven't been without controversy. Ashley Olsen was
included on PETA's 2006 Worst Dressed list for wearing fur.
Mary-Kate and Ashley have a clothing line in Wal-Mart stores across North
America for girls ages 4 – 14 as well as a beauty line called "Mary-Kate
and Ashley: Real fashion for real girls". In 2004 they made news by
signing a pledge to allow all the workers that sew their line of clothing
in Bangladesh full maternity leave. The National Labor Committee, which
organized the pledge, later praised the twins for their commitment to
worker rights. The director of the organization, Charles Kernaghan, is
quoted as saying, "The Olsen twins have done the right thing. Now it is up
to Wal-Mart to either support Mary-Kate and Ashley’s commitment to women’s
rights, or tragically to shut them down."
They were tapped as the faces of upscale fashion line Badgley Mischka in
2006, in an attempt to gain credibility in the fashion industry after
their association with Wal-Mart. They have also launched their own new
couture fashion label "The Row" named after the famous Savile Row of
London. The pair have also started a new line for The Row, entitled
"Elizabeth & James", named after their siblings.
Mary-Kate and Ashley have been criticized by animal rights group PETA for
their use of fur in their fashion line, The Row.
Mary-Kate and Ashley have an older brother, Trent, and younger sister,
Elizabeth, as well as two half-siblings, Taylor (b. 1996), and Jake (b.
1997). The twins' parents divorced in 1995. Taylor and Jake are the
children from their father's second marriage, to Martha Mackenzie-Olsen.
Mary-Kate and Ashley announced in 2004 that they would be attending
college at New York University after graduating high school. In 2005,
Mary-Kate moved back to California. She decided to stay on the West Coast
and pursue more individualized work with their company, Dualstar. Ashley
also left the university a couple months later.
In 2004, Mary-Kate checked into rehab in Utah for six weeks because she
was suffering from the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. It was rumored
that there was also a drug problem, but the Olsens' publicist said,
"Mary-Kate was not admitted for drugs. Period." Mary-Kate put on about
five to seven pounds immediately after her stint in rehab and pictures had
shown that she may have gained more weight. However, Star magazine has, as
of January 2007, released a cover story article on Mary Kate's, once
again, very low weight. They claim she is at 80 pounds. She has been seen
wearing baggy clothes and carrying vast purses. Her spokesperson has
denied the weight loss claiming "Mary-Kate has not lost weight. She is
taking good care of herself."
In 2005, Mary-Kate ended her romance with Greek shipping heir Stavros
Niarchos III. Mary-Kate said that the breakup was one of the main factors
in her leave of absence from New York University. "I miss him and I love
him," Mary-Kate said, "It's a hurtful and a painful subject." When asked
if there was a specific reason for her leaving NYU, she replied, "I think
we can all guess." The breakup and Niarchos's subsequent pairing with
Paris Hilton led to a rift between Hilton and Mary-Kate. "Paris and I
always only had nice things to say about each other," Olsen said. "Now I
guess you can tell we're not talking."
In 2006, Ashley filed a $40 million lawsuit against tabloid magazine
National Enquirer for printing a headline reading "Ashley Olsen Caught In
Drug Scandal," with a story accompanied by an unflattering photo of Ashley
with her eyes half-closed. The lawsuit stated that the photo was clearly
used to create a misrepresentation of Olsen under the influence of drugs.
Ashley completely denies the accusations and said that she has not and
does not use or sell illegal drugs. The suit consisted of $20 million in
libel damages and $20 million in false light invasion of privacy damages.
Per her suit, Ashley Olsen and her lawyers believe that "freedom of the
press is a valuable right, but it is not a license for gossipy tabloids to
tar and feather innocent celebrities and destroy their reputations and
businesses for the rag's profits."
In 2008, Mary-Kate Olsen was caught up in the media-hype surrounding the
death of Heath Ledger after Masseuse Diane Lee Wolozin, who had gone to
the apartment to give Ledger a 3 p.m. massage and found his naked body in
his bed, phoned the 21-year-old Olsen twice before calling the 911
emergency service. There is also speculation that Olsen was having a
relationship with Ledger at the time of his death. Olsen released a
statement through her publicist stating "Heath was a friend. His death is
a tragic loss. My thoughts are with his family."
Mary-Kate Olsen enjoys the sport of rowing in her spare time, and is a
coxswain at the Los Angeles Rowing Club.