The hit ABC series, which ran from 1987 to 1995, followed Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) as he attempted to raise his three daughters — D.J. (Candace Cameron Bure), Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) and Michelle (Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen) — after his wife’s death. Danny’s brother-in-law, Jesse Katsopolis (Stamos), and best friend Joey Gladstone (Dave Coulier) move in to help him out, a la 3 Men and a Baby.
Stamos opened up about his experience as Uncle Jesse on the ABC series in his memoir, If You Would Have Told Me, which hit shelves on Tuesday, October 24. The actor revealed that his excitement after landing a multi-cam sitcom quickly faded as he realized the child actors were the ones in the center of the spotlight.
“I can already envision a future where the adorable child characters with their annoying catchphrases become sensations, while the rest of us exist to support their punchlines,” Stamos wrote of shooting the pilot in 1987, recalling his lines being drowned out over audiences fawning over “scene-stealer” Sweetin. “Once the kids hit puberty and transform into awkward teenagers, I’ll be buried in the graveyard of forgotten surrogate fathers from shows like Webster or Diff’rent Strokes.”
After disappointing viewership during its initial airing, Full House became a hit with the help of summer reruns. The now-beloved series stuck around for seven seasons, with Stamos eventually forming lifelong bonds with the cast and crew. In 2016, the actor reprised his role for several episodes in Netflix’s 2016 revival, Fuller House.
In his memoir, Stamos reflected on why Full House ultimately became so successful. “There’s emoting tender and true here if we have enough time to develop it,” he recalled thinking while shooting season 1. “It’s a story critics can get contemptuous about but also one that moms and dads can enjoy with their kids. It’s corny as hell but sentimental in a way that feels brave; a vulnerability that is almost retro. There are some groaners that bomb, but enough moments that are endearingly funny.”
Keep scrolling for all of the biggest Full House takeaways in Stamos’ memoir:
Stamos Wants Out
Stamos opened up about his experience shooting Full House pilot at Sony Studios in 1987, noting that the set was “buzzing” with fervor and moms who were “swoony General Hospital fans.” (Stamos starred on the soap opera from 1982 to 1984.)
Stamos said he quickly realized he was “the name” of the show, getting the “biggest response” of applause when creator Jeff Franklin introduced the actors. “There’s a lot riding on my shoulders,” he recalled thinking. “No worries. I’ll knock this out of the park.”
Things, however, took a turn for the worse when they yelled “action.”
During a scene with Sweetin — who Stamos said has “impeccable timing and is cuter than a bag of sleeping kitten” — Stamos noted that with “every big laugh” she got, he slipped “lower in my seat until I’m practically off the table.” The rest was a blur.
When the final scene called for the whole cast to gather around Michelle’s crib and sing the Flinstones theme song, Stamos quipped he was having a “Yabba-Dabba-Don’t Time.” After the director called cut, he booked it to the lobby and called his agent. “Get me the f—k off this show!” he begged.
Stamos — who remembered hoping he could “salvage some dignity” with his next project — said he was “dying to pull the rip cord on this family-friendly hell” but was contractually obligated to complete the pilot. The actor vowed to “keep it professional,” thinking the series would “crash and burn faster than my reputation.”
Olsen Twin Drama
Stamos recalled having a difficult time with Mary-Kate and Ashley during the early episodes of Full House, joking that their bad timing would often cause frustration.
“Of course when it’s time for Stephanie’s line, ‘Are you going to cook Michelle?’ not a peep from Mary-Kate and/or Ashley. The audience laughs hysterically,” he wrote about one particular on-set incident. “Then like the little rug rat is punking us, she starts screaming right when Joey’s line comes out of his mouth.”
Stamos recalled trying to get his funny lines out — and audible — between “the baby’s wailing” as he and Coulier “remove her soiled diaper with tongs.”
The disastrous scene led Stamos to “scream” at Franklin and demand the Olsen twins be fired — or else he would walk. “They’re not going to work out,” he told him. “They’ll ruin this show and my career.”
While Franklin followed Stamos’ wishes and sent “the Olsens and their diaper bags packing,” he immediately brought a new set of “perfectly behaved twins” onto the set.
“They are quiet, calm and homely as hell,” Stamos said, noting that he soon realized he had “misjudged the situation.” He begged Franklin to “bring back” the Olsen’s — who were still waiting backstage.
“I can’t help but wonder if Jeff deliberately chose the homely twins fully aware that I wouldn’t like them and would beg to get Mary-Kate and Ashley back,” he wrote.
Fighting for the Olsens Affection
While working with the Olsen twins may have been a challenge at first, Michelle soon became the character everyone wanted to share a scene with. Stamos said he began to “adore” Mary-Kate and Ashley, often spending time with them off-screen, leading the writers to develop more Jesse and Michelle stories.
Stamos claimed that Saget often complained about Jesse getting “all the good scenes” with the twins despite him playing the baby’s father.
“During photoshoots or promos for the show, Bob and I often jockey to be the one holding Michelle,” Stamos said. “We argue over who should be in the center or do single photos with Mary-Kate or Ashley.”
Stamos recalled bickering about the topic during one particular shoot with renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz until she kicked everyone off the set besides him and Mary-Kate.
“She captures a sweet shot of Jesse and Michelle wrapped in a blanket, both somehow looking equally innocent,” he shared. “It tells the story of the show in a single frame.”
Changing His Tune
Stamos shared that the show began to grow on him following season 1 despite it not catching a big audience. When his agent warned him that Full House could be “on its last leg,” Stamos found himself defending the series and what it means to fans.
“I tell them about a guy who came up to me, a single dad raising two kids on his own,” he wrote. “Full House makes his kids feel like they are still a family, even though it’s not considered ’traditional.’ I let my team know that the show and cast are starting to mean something to me and I’m hoping to get another season or two out of it.”
Stamos said his agent was flabbergasted by the confession, recalling the actor being desperate to get off the show. “Well, it turns out, unlike you guys, I have a heart,” Stamos replied, adding that he was only “half joking.”
Three’s a Crowd?
While Danny, Jesse and Joey were a close trio on screen, Stamos claimed that Saget would often get “thrown off” by his close relationship with Coulier behind the scenes.
“[Bob] was Dave’s best friend before I came around,” Stamos explained. “Dave and I are single, living a more carefree life at this point. Bob is married with a daughter and another one on the way.” (Saget welcomed three daughters – Aubrey, Lara and Jenny — with ex-wife Sherri Kramer before their 1997 divorce.)
Stamos said he told Saget that “he’s the only father out of the three of us” and to bring some of that to his character. “It’s an authenticity that I feel Danny Tanner is missing. But he doesn’t want advice from me,” he added.
Finding the Magic
After a rough start, Stamos said the cast and crew of Full House realized they had something special during a scene where Jesse and Joey feed Michelle cough syrup.
“That! That’s the show. At its root it’s about parenting,” Stamos recalled Franklin saying. “Guys that don’t know how to parent, learning to be parents. And all the single-guy stuff, and the kids with each other, can be B and C stories. But what drives the show is parenting stories. We’ve got these amazing kids. We’ve got lovable guys. That’s the formula!”
Franklin then noted another unique thing no other sitcom in history had tried to do: “We’re raising a baby on TV,” Franklin said.
“Son of a bitch, he’s right,” Stamos penned.