Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have had a very long career, and they’re only in their early 30s! They’ve pretty much been in show business and in the public eye for three decades. Their careers have certainly evolved over the years. They started out as child stars, became business ladies, and then moved on to fashion.
What would the ’90s have been without these iconic twins? Keep reading to see the Olsen twins grow up, see what they look like today, and find out why Hollywood doesn’t seem that interested in them anymore.
Stars From The Beginning
The world changed when Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were born on June 13, 1986, in Sherman Oaks, California. Can you tell these babies apart? Ashley is actually the older twin, but she was only born three minutes before her “younger” sister Mary-Kate.
These twins would always get compliments from strangers. They were cute, and people took notice. Enough people took notice that their parents thought it would be a good idea to get them into show business.
You may not be able to tell Mary-Kate and Ashely apart, but in reality, these two are as identical as any two normal siblings. Mary-Kate and Ashley are fraternal twins, not identical twins. That means that they didn’t start out as one egg that split apart, but as two separate eggs that were fertilized at the same time.
Even though they’re fraternal, Mary-Kate and Ashley look incredibly similar. That’s why their father Dave thought he could have the twins work in Hollywood.
Double The Charm
There are strict laws about how many hours children are allowed to work in Hollywood. These laws can make it difficult for productions to feature child characters on screen. That’s where twins come in. Mary-Kate and Ashley could share a role. They wouldn’t have two work as much because there were two of them.
At only nine months old, Mary-Kate and Ashley landed their first starring role as Michelle Tanner on the ABC sitcom, Full House. The Olsen twins were the first of their kind.
Winning Over Hollywood
Before Mary-Kate and Ashley played Michelle on Full House, nobody had ever hired twins to play one person before. Producers didn’t want to draw attention to the fact that Michelle was actually two kids, so in the credits of the show, the twins are listed as “Mary-Kate Ashley Olsen.”
Once Full House got more popular, the cast went on press tours and it was revealed that Michelle was actually played by two adorable little girls.
Their Popularity Grew
People were absolutely enchanted by Mary-Kate and Ashley as Michelle Tanner. By 1989, Michelle Tanner began to gain some speaking roles. How could we forget Michelle delivering classic one-liners such as “You got it, dude!”
The character became so popular that the writers for the show began to write storylines around Michelle Tanner. They were just kids but they were already dictating the plotline of a major television program. Their popularity only grew from there.
Michelle Tanner’s Fashion Choices
Mary-Kate and Ashley also had a huge influence on ’90s fashion even before they got into the fashion industry themselves. Costume designers put Michelle Tanner in looks that resonated with young girls during that era. The character was often dressed in children’s items from big-name designers like Chanel and Marc Jacobs.
Maybe the public’s response to Michelle Tanner’s wardrobe had something to do with the twins’ interest in fashion later in life. Those overalls are pretty adorable.
By 1992, Mary-Kate and Ashley wanted to try doing some more acting outside of Full House. They had already amassed an audience of their won and they had the support necessary to branch out. They released their first album “Brother For Sale” in 1992, which was their first big project outside of Full House.
Although the two weren’t naturally singers, the album was a hit with young kids and introduced the twins to a new market.
Nobody really knew what was going to happen with that album, but when it turned into a huge success, their father started working overtime as their manager.
While the girls filmed Full House, they also completed multiple movies like To Grandmother’s House We Go (1992), Double Double Toil and Trouble (1993), and How The West Was Fun (1994). Their dad was booking all of these gigs for them and the twins were doing a lot of work.
They Broke Records
The girls became so successful that their parents decided to start a production company in their names. The company was called Dualstar and Mary-Kate and Ashley are still the CEOs of the company. They became the youngest producers in history.
They were only six-years-old when they were credited as producers on To Grandmother’s House We Go. We’re sure their parents did a lot of the production planning for them, but they were making the cash that funded all the projects.
Those Iconic Home Videos
Mary-Kate and Ashley’s career really went into overdrive when they started releasing their own straight to video VHS movies.
Any young girl growing up in the ’90s remembers the episodes from their detective series The Adventures of Mary-Kate & Ashley, and their slumber party series You’re Invited to Mary-Kate & Ashley’s. The twins were filming all of these movies while they were still working on Full House. They were working crazy hours even though the reason they were hired in the first place was to reduce the number of hours children had to work.
What Happened After Full House
Full House ended after eight seasons in 1995, and the Olsen twins were finally free to devote their time and attention to Dualstar. The girls released a steady string of straight-to-VHS movies during the ’90s like Billboard Dad (1998), and Passport to Paris (1999).
They also released their first feature film, It Takes Two (1995).
A Dicey Divorce
Alongside the end of Full House came the end of their big, happy family. Mary-Kate and Ashley’s parents divorced in 1995. The divorce was allegedly due to a strain on the relationship that came from the twins’ success.
After the divorce, Mary-Kate and Ashley became even more private when it came to their personal lives.
A New Passion Project
A new millennium called for a new passion project. The Olsen twins were known for their love of fashion on set, so they decided to branch out and create a fashion line.
The line was sold in Walmart and JCPenney, and basically made Mary-Kate and Ashley the icons for tween girls across America.
Some Serious Merch
The success of their clothing line turned Mary-Kate and Ashley into the two most influential teens in America. Their likeness was used to sell everything from shoes, purses, CDs, makeup, board games, dolls, and everything else you can think of.
If an item could be marketed to tweens, you can guarantee Mary-Kate and Ashley were front and center.
Trying New Television Shows
Their influence on the tween market allowed them to star in not one, but two, new television series. So Little Time was a live-action sitcom, while Mary-Kate and Ashley in Action! was an animated serious.
Both were critical flops, but it didn’t matter because the tweens couldn’t get enough.
One Last Time On The Big Screen
In 2004, the Olsen twins starred in what would be their last film ever. New York Minute was a feature film flop, and after so many unsuccessful television series and films, the girls retired from acting.
After so many years in show business, no one knew what the girls would do next.
A New Career
The girls decided to devote their life to their true passion, fashion. The girls became fashion icons by 2006, appearing beside the most elite runways in the world.
Mary-Kate was even named by The New York Times as the pioneer of the “homeless” bohemian look. Oversized sunglasses, boots, loose sweaters, and floral skirts are all thanks to Mary-Kate.
After their departure from film and into fashion, the two could begin to differentiate from each other. Ashley kept the twins’ signature dirty blonde hair, but Mary-Kate began to change things up by dying her hair different colors like brown and red.
Finally, we were able to start telling them apart!
Mary-Kate’s Health Issues
Their increasing appearances in fashion and on runways opened them up to some intense criticism. Mary-Kate, in particular, was berated by the tabloids for being too thin. It was later announced that she had entered treatment for anorexia nervosa.
The disease even landed Mary-Kate in the hospital with a kidney infection.
Caught Up In The Part Scene
Mary-Kate and Ashley both went through some partying phases, and it has come back to be controversial. Reality star Spencer Pratt sold a not-so-flattering photo of Mary-Kate to tabloids for $50,000, which made America think the twins were spiraling downhill.
These actions by “friends” made Mary-Kate and Ashley shy away from the media even more than before.
The Forbes List Of Millionaires
Their choice to move into fashion was a good one. Although their numerous films and money left over from Full House made them millionaires by the age of 10, they made most of their money in fashion.
The two have launched multiple clothing and beauty lines like The Row, Olsenboye, and Elizabeth James.
A Friend’s Tragic Death
Things got dramatic for Mary-Kate in 2008 with the death of Heath Ledger. The high-profile suicide shocked the world, and it was even more shocking to find out Mary-Kate and Heath had been secretly dating.
The massage therapist that found Heath actually called Mary-Kate before calling the police.
Their Unique Style
Their “homeless” boho-chic style makes a lot more sense when you realize just how spiritual the twins are. Both Mary-Kate and Ashley have discussed in rare interviews their use of crystals, sage burning, and belief in bad auras.
The two seem to have found their own path for being at peace.
A New Shopping Experience
Their couture fashion line The Row is an entirely new shopping experience. They began it as a desire to create the perfect t-shirt, and has expanded from there.
The fitting rooms have robes and caviar in them, and the entire experience is supposed to detract from online shopping.
Mary-Kate Returned To Acting
Even though the two vowed not to return to acting, Mary-Kate has made a few solo appearances in film and television. She had a small role in the 2011 film Beastly and had a recurring role in the third season of Weeds.
Still, the two have not appeared on film or as producers since their vow in 2004.
Little Elizabeth Olsen
Now, most of the red carpet appearance either happen at fashion week or with their younger sister. Elizabeth Olsen had been acting since she was young as well, but when the girls quit in 2004, it was Elizabeth’s time to shine.
You might recognize her best in the role of the Scarlett Witch in the Marvel film franchise.
Inspiring Other Celebs
In another rare interview, the Olsen twins admitted their style-crushes and you may be surprised. Mary-Kate said Gigi Hadid is giving her serious inspiration right now, and Ashley cited Amber Heard as her latest style icon.
In reality, those two celebs probably were inspired by the Olsen twins!
Ashley’s Focusing On Fashion
Nowadays, Ashley Olsen is focusing on her fashion line. She’s been keeping busy focusing on the fashion line while her sister takes on family life.
Ashley’s dating history has caused some controversy though, as her last three boyfriends were old enough to be her father. The latest, Richard Sachs, was an art dealer who was 28 years her senior.
Mary-Kate Is Newly Married
Mary-Kate has also come under fire for her relationships. She married Olivier Sarkozy, the half-brother of the former French president, in November 2015 at a very unique wedding.
All guests were required to check in their mobile phones, and each table had a bucket of free…erm, cigarettes.
They’re Almost Unrecognizable
Today, the twins have continued to shy away from acting and focus on their fashion line. The two are rarely seen on Hollywood red carpets, but you can find them at any time on the fashion runways.
They’ve kept up their boho beach look but modernized and grown into it with their age.
Audiences Don’t Care About Twins Anymore
It sounds like even if Mary-Kate or Ashley wanted to return to the glamorous Hollywood life, they might not be able to. Being adorable and talented twins worked in the ’90s but it isn’t what audiences want from adult actors.
Both twins found the most success when acting as a pair, so it’s no surprise if a Hollywood agent is scared to cast them separately.
Not So Wholesome
It seems like years of partying and growing up has taken away from the wholesome image that they sold for so long. We have to admit it would be weird to see Michelle Tanner all grown up into a, dare we say it, sexy adult.
Being wholesome was their brand and that really restricts casting agents.
Although the twins steer clear of Hollywood, they’re often spotted at fashion events. Here they are at a 2016 LACMA Art + Film Gala in Los Angeles. The event was in honor of artist Robert Irwin and filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow.
The event was sponsored by Gucci and was attended by scads of people from the fashion world.
Very Busy Schedules
The twins keep themselves busy with fashion events and fundraisers. Here they are at the 40th Anniversary of Studio In A School at The Seagram Building Plaza.
This is a non-profit organization that encourages young people to get involved in the visual arts. The twins have said that education is important to them, so it makes sense for them to support an effort like Studio In A School.
Working On Their Craft
You can’t argue with results like this! In 2018, Ashley and Mary-Kate were named the 2018 CFDA Accessories Designer of The Year and were presented with the coveted award.
It’s interesting that their own choice of accessories for the event was decidedly low-key and toned down. We guess they didn’t want to overshadow the importance of their award.
Elizabeth Stole Their Spotlight
Here are the twins with sister Elizabeth in 2016. They all resemble each other to some extent but look completely different at the same time!
Unlike her sisters, Elizabeth continues to embrace her Hollywood career. In 2019 she’ll appear in Avengers 4. She’s won several awards for her acting.
Caught In The Moment
We rarely get to see candid moments in the Olsens’ lives. Here’s a cute snapshot of Mary-Kate and her then-boyfriend Olivier Sarkozy as they catch a basketball game — the Mavericks versus the Knicks.
Mary-Kate looks a little, uh, overwhelmed by her BF’s affection here. But she’s beaming!
Ashley’s Dating History
And who knew the twins are such big sports fans? Ashley and her boyfriend Richard Sachs were also at that Mavericks-Knicks game in 2016. Ashley and Richard really appeared to be enjoying each others’ company.
It’s rumored that the couple split up shortly after this event so that Ashley could focus on her fashion career, but they sure looked happy while the relationship lasted.
A Family Affair
The Olsens’ fashion line, Elizabeth & James, was inspired by their very own siblings! We’ve already met Elizabeth. Here’s their older brother James “Trent” Olsen, who provided the other element of the fashion brand’s name.
Trent is older than the twins, and appeared as himself in a few of their early films. They also have a half-brother named Jake.
The Fans Still Love Them
Fashion fans around the world are obsessed with Mary-Kate and Ashley. There are dozens of tribute accounts on sites like Instagram and Pinterest that follow the young women’s lives.
A fan posted this #tbt image to Instagram with the caption, “Mary-Kate and Ashley at a friend’s wedding, 2017.” It looks like the twins are having a ton of fun here!