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The girls were born in 1986 in Sherman Oaks,
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 first season.
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
, such as To Grandmother's House We
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.
of this, they have been on the Forbes
' "The Celebrity 100 list
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.
In 2004, The Olsen Twins dual-hosted Saturday
and they missed their prom because of it.
Their most recent theatrical venture was in the light-hearted
romantic comedy, New York Minute
. The film was expected to launch the girls into more
serious adult roles, but was a box office flop.
Mary-Kate's first acting appearance without Ashley was in the
, 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
is also in the 2008 independent film The Wackness
, 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"
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
look consists of oversized sunglasses, boots, loose sweaters, and
flowing skirts all with an aesthetic of mixing high end pieces with
Their fashion choices, however, haven't been without controversy.
Ashley Olsen was included on PETA's
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
, 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
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
have also launched their own new couture fashion label "The
" named after the famous Savile Row
. The pair have also started a new line
for The Row, entitled "Elizabeth & James
", named after
Mary-Kate and Ashley have been criticized by animal rights
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
Mary-Kate and Ashley announced in 2004 that they would be
attending college at New York University
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 in 2007, shortly before what would have been her
In 2004, Mary-Kate checked into rehab in Utah for six weeks
because she was suffering from the eating disorder anorexia
. It was rumored that there was also a drug problem, but
the Olsens' publicist said, "Mary-Kate was not admitted for drugs.
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
. "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
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
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.
released a statement through her publicist stating "Heath was a
friend. His death is a tragic loss. My thoughts are with his
Mary-Kate Olsen enjoys the sport of rowing in her spare time,
and is a coxswain at the Los Angeles Rowing Club. 
- This section lists the filmography of the twins as a duo.
Olsen and Ashley
Olsen for other productions in which each has
- ^ Ginia Bellafante (October 24, 2008). "No Labels for the Twins but
Their Own". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/26/arts/television/26bell.html.
Dualstar Press Kit
Goldman, Lea and Kiri Blakeley. In Pictures: The Richest 20
Women In Entertainment. January 17, 2007.
Mary-Kate Olsen set to star
on TV for the first time in three years
Hall, Sarah. Olsen Pad Up for Grabs
March 29, 2005.
- ^ a
La Ferla, Ruth. Mary-Kate: Fashion Star.
March 6, 2007.
Grossberg, Josh. Mary-Kate, Ashley: No
Sweat December 9, 2004.
Hall, Sarah. Olsen Twins Strike a
Pose. February 15, 2006.
Ashley and Mary-Kate's
sisterly bond Times of India. 11 Aug 2007.
The Biography Channel:
Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen Biography
Olsen's Rep Slams Anorexia
Relapse Reports. IMDB.com
- ^ a
Sherpe, Gina. Eonline.com: Mary-Kate Talks
Paris, Stavros. December 9, 2005.
Amter, Charlie and Sarah Hall. Ashley Olsen's Tab Turn.
February 16, 2005.
Heath, Mary-Kate: The truth
about their relationship. january 25, 2008.
Mary-Kate Olsen speaks as
Heath Ledger heads home. january 25, 2008.