B orn John Phillip Stamos, August 19, 1963, in Cy- press, CA; son of William (a restaurateur) andLoretta Stamos; married Rebecca Romijn (a model and actress), September 19, 1998 (divorced, 2005).
A ctor on television, including:General Hospital, 1981-83; Dreams, 1984; Alice in Wonderland (movie), 1985; You Again?, 1986; Full House, 1987-1995; The Disappearance of Christina (movie), 1993; Fatal Vows: The Alexandra O’Hara Story (movie), 1994; A Match Made in Heaven (movie), 1997; The Marriage Fool (movie), 1998; Thieves, 2001; Jake in Progress, 2005-06; ER, 2005—; Wedding Wars (movie), 2006. Film appearances include: Never Too Young To Die, 1986; Born to Ride, 1991; Dropping Out, 2000; My Best Friend’s Wife, 2001; Knots, 2004. Stage appearances include: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, 1995; Cabaret, 2002. Producer credits include: Beach Boys: An American Family, 2000; Martin and Lewis, 2002; The Virgin Chronicles, 2002; Jake in Progress, 2005.
Awards: Soapy Award for most exciting new actor, 1983; best young actor in a daytime soap, Young Artist Awards, 1984.
P laying the fun-loving Uncle Jesse on the wholesome 1980s sitcomFull House, John Stamos became a celebrity and Hollywood pinup boy. However, when the show ended its eight-season run in 1995, Stamos struggled to find his place in the acting world. Over the next decade, he appeared in several films and a few failed sitcoms before gaining a new lease on his acting life with an appearance on ER in 2005. Stamos was supposed to stay for only two episodes, but his machismo played so well with the cast that he was offered a permanent spot on the show and helped revive its ratings.
NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly credited Stamos with helping breathe new life into ER. “John is definitely a draw,” Reilly told Entertainment Weekly’s Lynette Rice. “After Noah [Wyle] left we were down a man, so there was room for another male character. John has the right amount of chemistry and charisma.”
Stamos was born on August 19, 1963, in Cypress, California, to Bill and Loretta Stamos. His grandfather, a Greek immigrant, shortened the family name from Stamotopoulos. Stamos had two little sisters. As a child, he was interested in acting and snuck into the recording studios at Paramount to watch the filming of shows like Laverne & Shirley and Happy Days. When Stamos was 15, he began taking acting classes and auditioned for commercials and other roles. Growing up, Stamos was required to help out at his father’s three fast-food restaurants, located in Orange County. Stamos told the Fresno Bee’s Kathy Barberich that he spent his childhood “flipping burgers and eggs and anything else that could be flipped.”
Stamos attended Kennedy High School in La Palma, California, and played the drums in the school’s marching band. “I was lame in high school,” Sta-mos told the Orange County Register’s Barry Koltnow. “I wasn’t an athlete or popular or anything like that. I was a band geek.” The highlight of his high school years was a trip to Ireland to march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. When he was not busy pursuing his acting career, Stamos played in various local rock bands and was popular on the prom circuit.
After high school, Stamos was going to attend Cypress College but in 1981 landed a role on the long-running ABC soap General Hospital, playing a tough, street-smart boy named Blackie Parrish. Slated for just five episodes, Stamos became an instant heart-throb and ended up staying on the show for two years. In 1983, he earned a Daytime Emmy nomination for best supporting actor, becoming the youngest actor ever nominated in that category. He did not win, but he did get a 1983 Soapy Award for most exciting new actor. Though Stamos was well on his way to an acting career, his father continued to make him work at the family restaurants on weekends. Customers began to recognize him. Finally, Stamos told the Fresno Bee’s Barberich, he confronted his father. “I said, ‘Dad, I’m on national television. This is embarrassing.’ Finally, he didn’t make me [help] anymore.”
After leaving General Hospital—his character went to jail for manslaughter—Stamos, in 1984, landed on the CBS drama Dreams. This show followed the exploits of some young rockers struggling to make it in the music world. Stamos, who in real life plays the drums, piano, and guitar, wrote several songs for the show and recorded an accompanying album. It was canceled after one season.
Over the next few years, Stamos was more successful with music than with acting. Growing up, Sta-mos was a diehard Beach Boys fan. He attended his first concert in 1976 and later befriended the band members. In 1985, the Beach Boys invited Sta-mos to fill in on drums during a Fourth of July gig in Washington, D.C., to play in front of 1.5 million people. The Beach Boys, impressed with Stamos’ beat-keeping abilities, invited him to tour with them in the late 1980s. Stamos also played the drums in the Beach Boys’ video for the 1988 hit song “Kokomo,” which topped the singles charts. Stamos has guest-toured with the band on and off ever since and has played alongside John Fogerty, Bruce Springsteen, Little Richard, and B.B. King.
In 1986, Stamos tried to break into feature films with a leading role in Never Too Young to Die. The film, which flopped at the box office, featured Stamos as the avenging son of a secret agent who gets killed. Stamos also failed with 1986’s You Again?, an ABC show where he played an irresponsible young adult who moves back in with his father, played by Jack Klugman. You Again? lasted only one season and folded about the same time ABC executives were putting together a new sitcom about a widowed father raising his young daughters with the help of his extended family. With Bob Saget cast as the father and Stamos as Uncle Jesse, Full House was born. The show helped launch the careers of the Olsen twins—Mary-Kate and Ashley. With his face splashed on television screens weekly, Stamos rose to fame quickly playing the leather-jacketed, motorcycle-riding, guitar-wielding Uncle Jesse. After getting off to a slow start in 1987, the show hit the Top 20 its second season. Full House ran eight seasons and was canceled in 1995. After the show ended, it aired in syndication, although this did not help Stamos’ career. Forever immortalized onscreen with his sky-high 1980s mullet hairstyle and leather jacket, Stamos struggled to find other roles.
Stamos worked on a few other projects during his sitcom years, but the characters he played were not very memorable. In 1991, he starred in Born to Ride, a World War II motorcycle flick. The failed film featured Stamos as Grady Westfall, a racer who is recruited to join the Army and train troops to ride motorcycles. In 1993, Stamos played a successful businessman accused of killing his wife in the USA Network feature The Disappearance of Christina. He played a serial killer in the 1994 CBS production of Fatal Vows: The Alexandra O’Hara Story. None of these features did much to boost his career. Struggling for acting jobs, Stamos formed his own production company, St. Amos Productions. He produced the ABC miniseries Beach Boys: An American Family in 2000, which earned an Emmy nomination. In 2002, he produced The Virgin Chronicles for MTV. That same year, Stamos also produced Martin and Lewis for CBS, a telefilm that explored the relationship between actors Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
Stamos’ acting career got a much-needed boost in 1995 when he tried his hand at stage acting. After a grueling audition that lasted more than an hour, Stamos won the role of J. Pierrepont Finch in the Broadway musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Stamos replaced Matthew Broder-ick in the starring role. According to the San Jose Mercury News, Stamos took the audition very seriously. “I studied a lot before. I worked on it night and day. I knew I really wanted it. I worked very, very hard. I knew it was the thing I needed to do in my life .” Playing the singing and dancing entrepreneur Finch stretched Stamos and showed the acting world he had more depth to him than Uncle Jesse. In 2002, Stamos returned to Broadway, playing the show-stealing Emcee in the musical Cabaret and was credited with boosting ticket sales.
Along the way, Stamos met Sports Illustrated super-model Rebecca Romijn at a Victoria’s Secret fashion show. Within a few months, they were dating and married in September of 1998. Romijn later became famous for her role as the shape-shifting comic book heroine Mystique in the X-Men movies. The couple filed for divorce in 2004. Rumors flew through Hollywood that Stamos was jealous his wife’s career was taking off while his stalled, but he told People’s Ulrica Wihlborg that was not the case. “We weren’t exactly up for the same jobs, so what’s there to be jealous of? We both weren’t getting everything we needed out of our marriage, and it was time to move on for both of us.”
In 2001, Stamos appeared in the ABC-TV crime caper Thieves, playing a career criminal who becomes a covert government agent. It was canceled after just 13 episodes. In 2005, Stamos earned the title role on the ABC comedy Jake in Progress, hoping this would be the role to revive his television career. He played Jake Phillips, a womanizing New York City publicist who is trying to change his ways. Though the show intrigued viewers at first, the romantic comedy never really took off and was canceled after 21 episodes.
In 2005, Stamos appeared on ER, portraying a flirty Gulf War vet named Tony Gates. It was supposed to be a two-episode stint, but Stamos’ character hit a nerve and got to stay. Playing a paramedic-turned medical intern, Stamos provided a much-needed lift to the show, bringing viewership up to 13.9 million in 2006. Most of Stamos’ character’s storyline involves his romance with surgeon Neela Rasgotra, played by Parminder Nagra. Though the show was contracted to end after the 2007-08 season, there were rumors it might be kept on the air for a 15th season.
Speaking to TV Guide, Stamos said being successful on television again is a dream come true. “Joining ER, I feel like that kid who got the golden ticket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I’ve been offered chocolate bars all these years, but there had been no golden ticket.” While Stamos was happy about his life career-wise, he noted the irony that his acting career had turned around about the same time his divorce became final. “It’s like I can’t have it all at one time,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “Like your career and whatever can be good, but then you have no relationship. Or your relationship is good, but you have no career.”
Around the time Stamos became a regular on ER, he was also cast in the 2006 A&E romantic comedy Wedding Wars. In this television movie, Stamos played a gay party planner hired to arrange his brother’s wedding. However, when he finds out his brother’s negative stance on gay marriage, he goes on strike. Stamos said he took the role because he supports gay marriage and wanted to find a way to speak out on the issue. “I believe that nobody should be denied equal rights because of who they love,” he told the New York Post’s Joel Keller.
Though busy with ER, Stamos still found time to work as a producer. In 2007, he began working on a feature film about the famous television family The Jeffersons and was also developing a Western for TNT. Stamos also acted alongside Sean “P. Diddy” Combs in an ABC television adaptation of the Tony Award-winning play A Raisin in the Sun. The play delves into the struggles of an African-American family living in 1950s Chicago. It was scheduled to air in 2008. While Stamos relishes the fact that he has plenty of work right now, he also has plans for the future and what he might do after he retires. “Maybe I’ll go to Australia to open my own restaurant, a little fast-food place on the beach,” he told People’s Wihlborg. “I’ll play in a crappy old rock and roll band and hang out on the beach. I like acting, but I won’t be doing it until I’m 90.”
Entertainment Weekly, January 28, 2005, pp. 36-38;
December 8, 2006, pp. 21-22.
Fresno Bee, May 9, 1991, p. F1.
Newsday, February 12, 1989, sec. Part II, p. 2.
Orange County Register, April 3, 1989, p. F1; March 14, 2002, p. E.
People, March 21, 2005, p. 97.
San Jose Mercury News, January 7, 1996, sec. Arts, p. 15; August 23, 2004, p. 2A.
TV Guide, December 18-24, 2006, p. 28.
“Gay for a Day: Studly Stamos is a Wedding Planner at ‘War,’” New York Post,http://www.nypost.com/seven/12072006.tif/tv/gay_for_a_day_tv_joel_keller.htm (June 27, 2007).