In the early 1980s, actor John Stamos rose to prominence as a screen heartthrob on the soap opera General Hospital. He then got the career-defining role of Uncle Jesse Katsopolis on the beloved TV program Full House, a position he later reprised and executive produced on the Netflix spinoff Fuller House. Along with his work on popular shows such as ER and You, Stamos has been on Broadway, founded his own production company, and toured and recorded with The Beach Boys.
Early Life and Family
John Phillip Stamos was born on August 19, 1963, in Cypress, California, to Loretta (née Phillips) and restaurateur Bill Stamos. Bill’s father, a Greek immigrant, altered the family name from Stamatopolous to Stamatopolous. Alana and Janeen are John’s younger sisters.
Young Stamos worked at the family’s fast-food restaurants at his father’s request. Stamos spent his adolescence flipping burgers for the Orange County-based Duke’s and Yellow Basket restaurants, as well as playing drums in the marching band at John F. Kennedy High School. Stamos characterized himself as “the dorky kid” in school; he was fascinated with magic and frequently visited Disneyland, which was only 20 minutes away from his house.
Working for his father, according to Stamos, inspired his acting career. “Because of my dad and the discipline he had toward his work, I learned to be a pro and arrive early and know my lines and hit my marks,” he told the magazine.
He watched his first Beach Boys concert in 1976, a formative moment for the ardent fan, and at the age of 15, he began to pursue acting and music seriously. Stamos’ parents encouraged his artistic ambitions, and while John planned to attend Cypress College in 1981, Bill agreed that his son should forgo his first semester in order to pursue a genuine acting career.
TV Shows: General Hospital, Full House, You, and More
Stamos was cast as Blackie Parrish on the ABC serial drama General Hospital three weeks later. While the character was originally intended to have a five-episode arc, Stamos’ popularity and public appeal changed Blackie into the show’s new fixture, and the young actor quickly found himself a Hollywood star. During his two-year run as the sexy, clever yet tormented kid, Stamos won multiple honors and was eventually allowed full leave from his father’s restaurants.
Stamos made his prime-time debut in 1984 with CBS’ Dreams, a short-lived sitcom in which he played the frontman of a working-class Philadelphia band. Two years later, he was cast opposite Jack Klugman in the one-season sitcom You Again?
Full House and Fuller House
Around the same time, ABC began casting for Full House, a new family-friendly show. The show revolved around a single father (Bob Saget), his three young kids, D.J. (Candace Cameron), Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), and Michelle (played by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen twins), and his live-in support system, best friend and comedian Joey (Dave Coulier) and brother-in-law Jesse. Stamos found the latter role to be an ideal vehicle. Stamos rose to fame as the motorcycle-riding, Elvis-worshipping Uncle Jesse. By the second season, the show had become a top 20 smash, and Stamos had become a household celebrity.
After eight seasons, Full House came to an end in 1995. The series was the topic of a Lifetime TV film titled The Unauthorized Full House Story, which aired in 2015 and took a dramatized look at the show’s genesis and production. The fictional Stamos was played by Justin Gaston.
In February 2016, Netflix relaunched the show as Fuller House. In addition to working as an executive producer, Stamos reprised his role as Uncle Jesse in a recurrent capacity.
Saget died from head injuries on January 9, 2022, after falling in a hotel room in Florida. Stamos, a close friend who described Saget as the “brother I always wanted,” delivered a eulogy at his memorial ceremony, which was reported in the Los Angeles Times.
Later TV Roles: ER to You
Stamos was given another chance at prime-time stardom with the ABC romantic comedy Jake in Progress, which premiered in 2005. Stamos had a cameo appearance on ER, NBC’s long-running hospital drama, the same year. His appearance sparked a huge response, giving the series new life (and ratings). When Jake in Progress was canceled in 2006, Stamos was able to join the 13th season of ER as a main character: military veteran Dr. Tony Gates.
He then had a multi-episode guest stint on Glee before starring in the 2015-16 season of the sitcom Grandfathered. Stamos then appeared in Season 2 of Scream Queens, alongside Emma Roberts, Lea Michele, Abigail Breslin, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Keke Palmer.
His next series was another recurring part in a psychological thriller, You, starring Penn Badgley on Netflix. Beginning in the fall of 2018, Stamos played a therapist on Seasons 1 and 2 of the show.
Stamos returned to family fare in 2021, collaborating with Disney on two seasons of the Disney+ sitcom Big Shot. He portrayed Marvyn Korn, a feisty college basketball coach who loses his job and takes over as head coach of an all-girls private school.
Since 2017, Stamos has hosted A Capitol Fourth, an annual Independence Day concert.
Movies and Broadway Roles
Despite the fact that his most well-known performances are from TV shows, Stamos has worked on a number of film productions. He made the crossover from television to film in 1985, starring in the underappreciated film Never Too Young To Die. During his time on Full House, he appeared in the World War II film Born to Ride (1991), the USA Network’s The Disappearance of Christina (1993), and the CBS made-for-television film Fatal Vows: The Alexandra O’Hara Story (1994).
Stamos, who struggled to divorce himself from his Uncle Jesse film image after the series ended, adored theater. He took over as the lead in the Broadway production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, replacing Matthew Broderick. His made-for-TV movie roles continued elsewhere. He starred in A Match Made in Heaven (1997) and The Marriage Fool (1998) for CBS.
He returned to the stage in 2002, playing the Emcee in the Broadway production of Cabaret. Following that, she appeared in A&E’s Wedding Wars. In the 2006 film, Stamos played a gay wedding planner who fights for his freedom to marry.
While still on ER, Stamos participated in ABC’s 2008 rendition of A Raisin in the Sun alongside Sean Diddy Combs and Phylicia Rashad. The production received nominations for both the Golden Globes and the Emmys. Following the cancelation of ER the following year, Stamos returned to Broadway, this time in the revival of Bye Bye Birdie, opposite Gina Gershon.
Stamos starred as Chef Louis in ABC’s The Little Mermaid Live! in November 2019. He had played the same character in a Hollywood Bowl stage production a few years before.
Making Music with The Beach Boys
Stamos was invited to drum with his idols, The Beach Boys, for their Fourth of July set in 1985 after befriending them on General Hospital. The performance in Washington, D.C., drew 1.5 million spectators, and the band, impressed with Stamos’ knack for percussion, hired him frequently as a touring and session drummer.
Stamos began traveling and recording with The Beach Boys in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Following his appearance in the video for the 1988 smash “Kokomo,” their collaboration resulted in the 1992 single “Forever,” which featured Stamos on vocals. The song was later used to honor Jesse’s wedding to love interest Rebecca, played by Lori Loughlin, in the Full House series. Stamos also appeared on the album Shades of Blue, released in 1994.
Since then, the actor and the band have remained connected, creating music and inspiring Stamos behind the camera. ABC aired a miniseries titled Beach Boys: An American Family in 2000. The show received an Emmy nomination thanks to Stamos’ St. Amos Productions.
In the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, Stamos and band co-founder Mike Love released “This Too Shall Pass.” In 2022, the actor toured with the band, performing at Carnegie Hall on their 25th anniversary. “I never forget how fortunate I am.” “I never forget how grateful I am,” Stamos told Today that same year, adding that he is grateful that Full House introduced the band to a new generation of fans.
Stamos has one son and has been married twice.
Backstage at a Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in 1994, he met supermodel and actor Rebecca Romijn. The couple married on September 19, 1998, after becoming engaged in 1997. They announced their divorce eight years later, and it was formalized in 2005.
Stamos married actress Caitlin McHugh on February 3, 2018. In April 2018, the couple welcomed their baby, William, also known as “Billy,” into the world.
Celebrity Net Worth estimates Stamos’ assets to be worth at $25 million. That’s less than the Olsen twins ($250 million each), his on-screen wife Lori Loughlin ($70 million), and Bob Saget ($50 million at the time of his death).