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The famously feather-haired John Stamos first jettisoned to
instant stardom as an overstyled bad boy heartthrob during the
golden era of “General Hospital” (ABC, 1963- ), before moving
on to eight years as the overstyled bad boy heartthrob on the
TGIF mainstay, “Full House” (ABC, 1987-1995). He spent the
next 20 years using less hair products and trying to redeem his
reputation. His magnetic attraction to (or contractual obligation
for) made-for-TV-movies did not help boost his street cred, but
with several well-received turns on Broadway, starring roles in
higher-quality comedies, a few indie films, and the successful
launch of his own production company, Stamos became the
comeback kid. In 2006, he was added to the already
impressive cast of “ER” (NBC, 1994- ) which was a huge nod
of respect and a new beginning for a guy who had, at one time,
seemed more a 1980s television relic, than a viable leading
man for the new millennium.
Born John Philip Stamotopoulos, the future Tiger Beat pin-up
had his parents to thank for his dark haired, light-eyed, dimpled
good looks. His mother Loretta was of Irish/English descent
and his Greek father Bill would have passed down the family
name to his son if his father before him hadn’t shortened it to
Stamos upon immigrating to the United States. In any event,
their tiny raven-haired rocker was born on Aug. 19, 1963, in
Cypress, CA and grew up in the Orange County town not far
from Disneyland. The actor carried his love of the
self-proclaimed “Happiest Place on Earth” theme park with him
throughout his life, owning a lifetime park pass and purchasing
an original park sign for $30,000 on eBay. But back when his
jeans were ripped by playing outdoors rather than by a
wardrobe assistant, young Stamos had all the telltale signs of a
future entertainer. He started learning drums at the age of four,
and by 13 had started a rock band with a couple of friends,
aptly called Destiny. They even got paying gigs at parties and
local amusement parks. Prior to that, Stamos had enjoyed
putting on puppet and magic shows, and making movies with
the family movie camera. He made his acting debut in a junior
high production of “Our Town,” and after high school field trip to
a taping of “Happy Days” (ABC, 1974-1984), decided to focus
on a career in show business. He began auditioning for small
TV roles and in 1982, just six months after graduating from high
school, was called to audition for a five-day guest spot on the
era’s hottest soap opera, “General Hospital.”
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After a grueling three-day audition process, Stamos won the
role of Blackie Parrish, a prototypical “bad boy” rocker from
the wrong side of the tracks, and, in true soap opera fashion,
an orphan. The hunky troublemaker with a heart of gold was a
hit with execs and viewers alike, prompting producers to sign
Stamos to a two-year contract. At the age of 18, he was
already a certified heartthrob, and for the next two years, went
on to earn two Soap Opera Digest awards, a Daytime Emmy
nomination, and to date “GH” co-stars Janine Turner and Demi
By the time Stamos left “General Hospital” (Blackie was
ultimately sent to prison for manslaughter – so much for the
heart of gold), he had built a firm reputation as the go-to-guy
for dreamy rebel roles, with the added bonus that he could also
play guitar, drums, and sing. CBS cast him in the primetime
drama “Dreams” (1984), about a group of struggling young
rockers. The show did not last long, but Stamos did get to
write a number of songs for the fictitious band and record a
soundtrack album. ABC got on the Stamos train once again by
giving him a co-starring role opposite Jack Klugman on the
forgettable sitcom, “You Again?” (1986-87) about a rock and
roll, girl-chasing grown son moving back in with his divorced
father. The show was cancelled just as the network was
putting together a new family-oriented comedy about a single
father, his three young daughters, and their extended family
household. The show was to be loosely based on the hit film
“Three Men and a Baby” (1987) which came out around the
same time.
This unorthodox nuclear family was very much a “Full House,”
with the addition of John Stamos as Uncle Jesse Katsopolis
and his sky-high black hair. Jesse’s original surname in season
one was Cochran, but producers acquiesced to Stamos’
request that his character reflect his pride in his own Greek
heritage. Stamos got to expand his repertoire with the
character of Uncle Jesse, taking the leather jackets, guitars,
and womanizing to a whole new level with the addition of a
motorcycle and infatuation with Elvis. Jesse’s torn jeans were
quick to mend once he met the love of his life, Rebecca (Lori
Loughlin), with the couple having twins and moving into the
attic. Despite the even more domesticated storyline, Jesse
kept rockin’, and his band Jesse and the Rippers (not to be
confused with Blackie Parrish’s Blackie and the Riff Raff)
enjoyed modest success with a cover of the Beach Boys song,
“Forever.” And like most musicians, Jesse simultaneously held
down day jobs as an ad executive, a drive-time radio show
host and a nightclub owner/manager. As for the Beach Boys
connection, Stamos had begun a lifelong association with the
group back in 1983, when he first toured as drummer of the
re-formed group. For 20 years, he would join them periodically
for tours, playing drums, percussion, and singing. Stamos even
played conga drums in the Beach Boys’ 1988 video for
“Kokomo,” which was a million-seller and the group’s first hit
since 1966. He would go on to produce an Emmy-nominated
miniseries about the �60s surf pop idols in 2000, but his pink
tank top from the “Kokomo” video would be more widely
remembered and he would be revered by music fans as an
honorary member of the legendary band.
In 1995, after the eighth season of “Full House” wrapped, ABC
decided to cancel the show due to rising production costs. The
fledgling WB network stepped in with an offer to take over a
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ninth season, but Stamos objected to changing networks and
announced that he would not return. Most of the cast agreed
that it was time to move onto new projects, and things fizzled
out without the show receiving a proper series finale. The
cancellation and lack of official closure did little to affect the
show’s popularity. “Full House” continued to air in syndication,
up to two and four times a day on various networks. As time
marched on, Uncle Jesse’s rather extreme dated look
(specifically, his mullet) became a popular target for the
generation raised on the show but now horrified of the era they
grew up in. The guy who seemed so cool to 11-year-old
viewers now seemed more like someone who worked at Guitar
Center and lived with his parents. Furthermore, Stamos’ TV
movie roles during the “Full House” years had done nothing to
show his range as anything but a bad boy run amok, playing an
accused murderer in USA’s “The Disappearance of
Christina”(1993), a kidnapper in “Captive” (ABC, 1991), and a
serial killer in “Fatal Vows: The Alexandra O’Hara Story”(CBS,
Moving ahead, Stamos had his work cut out for him – to avoid
anything remotely resembling Uncle Jesse. Consequently, he
did a 180 degree turn and headed for musical theater. Starting
at the top, he replaced Matthew Broderick on Broadway in
“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” while
Broderick took a break to shoot a movie. A series of
made-for-TV movies like “A Match Made in Heaven” (CBS,
1997) and “The Marriage Fool” (CBS, 1998) further supported
his new image as a charming leading man, minus the mullet.
Onscreen, Stamos was boldly transforming into new
characters, and off-screen, was no different. For years, news
of Stamos’ rotating cast of girlfriends had been tabloid fodder
(Paula Abdul, Lori Loughlin, Denise Richards, Prince sidekick
Vanity), but in 1998 the real-life ladykiller finally tied the knot,
wedding Sports Illustrated supermodel and up-and-coming
actress, Rebecca Romijn, who immediately added his last
name to her professional moniker. He was also expanding into
television production, and with his first producer credit – on the
ABC biopic, “The Beach Boys: An American Family” – earned
an Emmy Award, which opened new studio doors for Stamos.
The success of that movie led to a development deal with
Warner Bros. Television and the launching of his own
production company, St. Amos Productions. He struck deals to
direct with the Disney Channel and the Fox Family Channel,
and in 2001 acted as executive producer on “Butterflies Are
Free” (CBS), an adaptation of the 1972 Goldie Hawn film, with
Stamos’ new model-turned-actress wife in Hawn’s iconic role.
The same year, he took a chance on a starring role in a feature
film – a medium which had never really embraced him – with
the quirky black comedy, “Dropping Out” – a film which turned
out to be a favorite on the festival circuit and put Stamos in
front of a Sundance audience for the first time. His next project,
the NBC drama series “Thieves” (2001) was also critically
acclaimed, but was cancelled after only eight episodes. The
show prompted People magazine to hail Stamos as “TV’s
Sexiest Comeback” in their annual “Sexiest Men Alive” issue,
confirming not only that he still had appeal, but had officially
achieved redemption from his Uncle Jesse days. In 2002, he
returned to New York to play the emcee in “Cabaret” and
stayed on to take over Antonio Banderas’ role as egocentric
film director Guido Contini in the Broadway revival of “Nine.”
The challenging dramatic role ushered in a marked change in
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the actor, who admitted that in his earlier days, he had perhaps
relied to much on being cute and charming to win an audience.
With this complex stage role, he learned to reach further into a
character and portray them as honestly as he could regardless
of whether the audience would like him.
In 2003, Stamos made another breakthrough with his role in
the indie short, “I Am Stamos,” about a character actor who
suddenly begins photographing as Stamos, and is on the
receiving end of the real Stamos’ revenge. The premise was
hilarious, but Stamos appearance in the film did wonders for
him, showing that he did not take himself too seriously and was
able to poke fun at his image. For the second time, Stamos
was appearing at film festivals around the world.
Unfortunately, around the same time he was enjoying
professional success, his love life was in the headlines again as
he and Romijn-Stamos announced their break-up after seven
years of marriage. The actor appeared to take the split hard.
But any personal setbacks were soon on the backburner the
following fall, when Stamos launched his new fast-paced
comedy, “Jake in Progress” (ABC, 2004-05). The show starred
Stamos as an entertainment PR executive looking to evolve
beyond his womanizing habits and settle down – a kind of “Sex
in the City” (HBO, 1998-2004) for men. Ironically, his real-life
high-profile romances had made for perfect casting, but
despite stellar reviews, the show was losing in the ratings. ABC
first renewed and then eventually pulled the show, but a certain
hit medical drama had been waiting quietly in the wings to land
Stamos, ever since he had done a guest spot the previous
The long-running, highly rated – and more importantly – highlyrespected medical drama, “ER” invited him to revive his role as
Tony Gates and become a full cast member in 2006. The
flirtatious character was a Gulf War vet-turned -medical intern,
and many reviewers credited the Stamos energy for bringing
new life to the veteran show. The network itself agreed that the
actor’s charisma – as well as chemistry with co-star Parminder
Nagra – was a big draw and helped fill in the gap after series
mainstay, Noah Wyle, departed in 2006. In fact, the network
considered renewing the show for a 15th season, due to hearty
ratings of 13.9 million. The attention and respect Stamos
received for his work on “ER” energized the actor, who felt like
he finally had an audience rooting for him. In 2007, he used his
“ER” momentum to appear as Karl Linder in an ABC movie
adaptation of the classic play “A Raisin in the Sun,” alongside
the Broadway revival cast including Sean Combs and Phylicia
Rashad. It had been quite a journey since his original TV
hospital debut more than 20 years earlier.
Also Credited As: John Phillip Stamos
Born: August 19, 1963 in Cypress,
Job Titles: Actor, Musician, Producer, Singer,
Director, Songwriter
Father: William Stamos. died in July 2001 at age 65
after six months in a coma following a heart attack
Grandfather: John Stamos. Greek immigrant; shortened
family name
Mother: Loretta Stamos.
Sister: Alaina Stamos. born in September 1967
Sister: Janeen Stamos. born in October 1965
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Significant Others
Companion: Daniela Urzi. dating as of April 2006
Companion: Demi Moore. met while working together on
"General Hospital" in the 80's; no longer together
Companion: Julie Anderson. dated for three years; no
longer together
Companion: Krista Allen. dated briefly in November
2004; no longer together
Companion: Lori Loughlin. dated in the 1980's, before
appearing together on "Full House"
Companion: Paula Abdul. briefly dated in the early 90's;
no longer together
Companion: Shanelle Workman. briefly dated summer
2005; no longer together
Wife: Rebecca Romijn. born November 1972; engaged
December 24, 1997; married on September 20, 1998;
separated April 2004, after five years of marriage;
Divorce final March 2005
Wife: Rebecca Romijn-Stamos. born in November 1972;
became engaged on December 24, 1997; married on
September 20, 1998
Companion: Demi Moore. dated when they both
appeared on "General Hospital"
Companion: Julie Anderson. together for three years
Companion: Paula Abdul. no longer together
Companion: Vanity. no longer together
1981 Landed first professional role on the ABC serial
"General Hospital" within six months of graduating high
1982 Played Blackie Parrish on ABC's "General
Hospital"; earned 1983 Daytime Emmy nomination
1984 Starred in own short-lived CBS TV series,
"Dreams", about an aspiring rock musician
1985 Began playing drums on tour with The Beach Boys
1985 TV-movie debut, "Alice in Wonderland" (CBS)
1986 Film debut, "Never Too Young to Die"
1987 Featured as Uncle Jesse Katsopolis on the ABC
sitcom, "Full House"; occasionally contributed music to
the show
1988 Played with The Beach Boys in the music video for
their hit "Kokomo"
1991 Returned to the big screen as star of the
independent period drama "Born to Ride"
1991 Starred as kidnapper Robert Knott in the ABC
movie "Captive"
1993 Played a successful businessman accused of
murdering his wife in the USA Network TV-movie thriller
"The Disappearance of Christina"
1994 Starred as a serial killer who takes an unwitting
bride in the CBS TV-movie "Fatal Vows: The Alexandra
O'Hara Story"
1995 Made Broadway debut in revival of "How to
Succeed in Business Without Really Trying", replacing
Matthew Broderick in the role of J Pierpont Finch
1997 Had a cameo in the Howard Stern comedy feature
"Private Parts"
1997 Played a single lawyer whose terminally ill mother
fixes him up with a nurse in the CBS TV-movie "A Match
Made in Heaven"
1999 Signed agreement to direct a TV-movie for Fox
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Family Channel
2000 Executive produced the Emmy-nominated ABC
biopic "The Beach Boys: An American Family"
2000 Had co-starring role as a film editor of porno
movies in the independent black comedy "Dropping Out"
2000 Headlined the dramatic pilot "Fortunate Son" for
2000 Signed a one year holding/development deal with
Warner Bros. Television in July
2001 Returned to series TV as star of the ABC fall
drama "Thieves"; show canceled after eight episodes
2002 Received positive reviews for his performance in
"Cabaret" on Broadway
2005 Cast for a two-episode guest stint on the NBC
series, "ER" playing a veteran of the 1991 Gulf War who
works as a paramedic and is also attending medical
2005 Starred as a slick New York publicist in the ABC
comedy "Jake in Progress"
2006 Signed on as a series regular to join the cast of
NBC's hit medical drama, "ER"
"Bit" by the acting bug after being cast in a junior high
school production of "Our Town"
Began playing drums at age four
Co-starred as Jack Klugman's restless teenage son in
the NBC sitcom "You Again?"
Made movies with family's home movie camera
Raised in Cypress, California
Toured with rock band John Stamos and the Bad Boyz
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