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John Stamos Has a Story for You

More than just TV’s favorite hot uncle, the 'Full House' alum opens up about divorce, recovery, marriage, sex, and fame in his memoir, 'If You Would Have Told Me.'

There’s something you need to know about John Stamos.

America’s OG Hot Uncle (that would be Jesse Katsopolis from Full House, naturally) — the guy who made legions of coeds and their moms yearn for Blackie Parrish, the bad boy with a heart of gold, on General Hospital; and who, as Tony Gates, returned a chiseled, cowboy-esq character to a George-Clooney-less ER; the man who has both enough self-awareness and self-deprecation that he bared his bum in PAPER magazine to promote his brilliant (but now-canceled) series Grandfathered — was a really ugly baby.

John Stamos This Guy Suit

Alex Harper

In his new memoir, If You Would Have Told Me, which he wrote with Daphne Young, the actor confesses that his mom covered his face with a blanket when she brought him home from the hospital. At another point in the book, he deadpans that “for the longest time, the neighbors thought my parents got a pet monkey.”

This is a story that was obviously told to Stamos rather than one he remembers himself, but it kind of embodies his whole ethos. The 60-year-old thrives on stories and memories and nostalgia.

Stamos is an unabashed Disney adult, although he puts most of that onus on his wife, actress and writer Caitlin McHugh. He proposed to her in Disney California Adventure’s Animation Building at Disneyland with a specially curated mix of Disney and Pixar love scenes, and told her in his wedding vows that she was “every Disney princess wrapped up into one woman.” The suburban Los Angeles home where they’re raising their 5-year-old son, Billy, was in the beginning stages of a The Nightmare Before Christmas Halloween display when I arrived for our interview. In the living room, there’s an actual seat from Disneyland’s Dumbo ride, a gift to Stamos from his then-wife Rebecca Romijn, and his office desk displays one of Walt’s candlestick phones next to a picture of the media giant using it.  

The house is also teeming with meticulously documented particulars of their own lives — a tendency Stamos may have inherited from his mom, who saved every blurb about her son and every calendar with his audition schedule. Their kitchen features two large digital picture frames rotating through baby photos and candids of blissful mundanity. Posters from his concerts with The Beach Boys and other bands are on a wall in the recording studio near his office, which itself is decorated with knick knacks, like Uncle Jesse–themed action figures. Letters from each of his parents are mounted on the wall behind his computer and a picture of him with his beloved friend and co-star, the late Bob Saget, in an angel-winged frame sits nearby. 

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Looking around, you get the impression that Stamos is a guy who cries easily and openly — something he proves as fact moments later, tearing up while playing an audio recording of a section of his book about Saget and Full House.

“The sad thing about losing Bob — I mean, there were a lot of reasons [it was sad], obviously — was that he was the guy who really kind of kept us together,” Stamos says of the cast’s lasting friendship, which included pool parties and barbecues long after those sets were struck. “We try; we talk. But we’re not together as much as we used to [be].” 

John Stamos This Guy Elvis
"The Elvis shades are one of my favorite prized possessions. They are accompanied by a letter from Elvis's father, Vernon. Given to me by a special friend of mine, Brigette Poublon".

Alex Harper

“We were a family, and I think people got that, too; both on and off camera.”

That show and its sequel’s power to touch real families, especially younger kids, didn’t hit Stamos until he wrote this book. “The critics were so shitty and I didn't want to slam them too bad [in the book], but I was like, You know, if you didn't like the show it wasn't made for you,” he says. 

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It wasn’t just the critics who were elitist. Stamos came onto Full House thinking that he’d be the star attraction and the child actors would fade into the background. He famously briefly got Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen, who jointly played youngest child Michelle Tanner, fired simply for being fussy babies who didn’t want to sit through filming. And he tried to quit after the first table read out of fear that Jodi Sweetin, who played middle sister Stephanie, would upstage him.

“I got in a bad habit for a long time of being on their side,” he says now of those who deemed themselves above cute catchphrases and children mugging for the camera. “But, ultimately, they were wrong.”

Full House was emblematic of what Stamos wanted for himself. When he was younger, it was fame; as he grew older, it was a family. The first was relatively easy: After coming up as a Tiger Beat model, Stamos started on General Hospital the day after he booked that gig. A year later, Beach Boys’ co-founder Mike Love would bring him onstage to play drums for a rendition of “Barbara Ann.”

John Stamos This Guy Full House
Left: "Yes, that is one of the original leather jackets Jesse wore on 'Full House.'".

Alex Harper

The second? 

“I was watching Indiana Jones with Billy the other day, and Caitlin,” Stamos says. “Remember when the wall was coming down and people were shooting and everything? And Indiana Jones gets right to the wall, grabs the whip and rolls to the side as it comes right down? That's me, getting a family just in the nick of time."

John Stamos This Guy Elvis Piano

Alex Harper

He writes in his book that he had “the sort of true friendship that’s supposed to be the foundation of a great, lasting relationship” with Lori Loughlin, who played his wife, Becky, on Full House. The on-screen couple’s real-life friendship felt, at one time to Stamos, like it was on the precipice of turning romantic. 

And maybe it could have been. 

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They went as friends to the Victoria’s Secret fashion show after-party, where he met Romijn. At that moment, Stamos says he had to decide whether he should try to get out of the Friend Zone with Loughlin or pursue something new with Romjin.

Cagey discussing this “what if?” even in this interview, Stamos says he thought both women represented different sides of his dream girl: “In my mind it was like … the two Sandys in Grease!” 

Stamos and Romijn were married in an elaborate 500-person wedding. They’d divorce in 2005 after 10 years. For a long time, Stamos blamed everything on Romijn. He wanted kids and a low-key life; her star was rising. It wasn’t until he went to rehab in 2015 following an arrest for drunk driving that he accepted his role in the breakup.

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In rehab, he was instructed to write down his resentments and also how he may have caused them. “Up until that moment, I was all, She's terrible! She ruined my life! She’s the devil!,” he recalls. Stamos admits now that, “I really do feel that it's taken me a long time to grow up. I went into adulthood kicking and screaming. I didn't want to be [a grown up] because it seemed boring to me.”

Stamos writes openly and without shame about such parts of his life. His memoir reveals that a babysitter sexually assaulted him when he was a child. He doesn’t want this experience to be the entire focus of his life, or his book, but says he felt it was important to include because of his work with the advocacy group Childhelp. “I’d sort of be a Charlatan if I didn’t.”

I ask whether he thinks the way he lost his virginity — his friend’s older sister suddenly mounted him one night after he’d been smoking what he thought was weed (it was really oregano) — would be construed as sexual assault today, instead of the “Dear Penthouse” letter it reads like in his book.

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Alex Harper

“A lot of the early sexual experiences [I had] were with more sophisticated women,” Stamos says. “If it was the other way around, you know, some of these things could be taken differently,” he adds. Today, there’s no bad blood between the two; Stamos showed her the book passage before it was published and she came to his 60th birthday party in September.

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Looking back, Stamos doesn’t know how or why his name became pop culture short-hand for “attractive man who is also a punchline,” though he finds it amusing. He asked his friend, TV producer and writer Ali Adler, about it once and she told him, “You’re the go-to guy!” Because even if they’ve never watched an episode of Full House, it’s theoretically impossible for any Gen-Xer or Millennial who had a working TV set in the late 20th century to hear his name and not picture a mullet and an Elvis impression.

Still, he did not expect to hear his name dropped as a fantasy sexual partner when he saw Step Brothers in the theater or when he walked into the room as McHugh was watching The Good Place and Kristen Bell’s character states that “Aristotle is basically John Stamos with a beard.” (He has never seen BoJack Horseman, the Netflix animated comedy that draws heavy comparisons to his life and career, except, you know, with an anthropomorphic horse voiced by Will Arnett.)

John Stamos This Guy Pool Book Memoir

Alex Harper

“I was a quirky, gawky teenager that, you know, my nose was big and I didn't know how to be anything else and girls didn't dig it and guys thought I was stupid,” he says. 

Then, one day, a popular kid punched him in the eye because he’d learned his girlfriend thought Stamos was cute. It was humiliating even if Stamos says that it also was a “caterpillar into a butterfly” moment.

Did he ever get over it?

He hates that guy so much he almost dedicated the book to him.

John Stamos This Guy Polaroid Bathroom

John Stamos

What is the last thing you do before you fall asleep?

Me and my wife, we always say “goodnight, everybody, everywhere,” like from the Beatles song. 

Describe a memorable dream. 

My life.

First album you ever owned?

Endless Summer by the Beach Boys

Favorite cheesy pick-up line?

My son is now five and a half. He didn’t get it from me, but he’s a flirt. His move is he’ll look at someone and go “So, what's my favorite color?” or “What’s my favorite fish?”

We were at Disneyland in Paris. We were there for two days. The second day we had this 30-year-old beautiful French girl as a guide. He kicks into it, full gear: “What kind of fish am I thinking about?” and “I have a girlfriend back at home. Her name is Bella.”

She excuses herself to go to the bathroom. He looks at me, upset, and screams, “Why did I tell her I had a girlfriend?!” Like he had a shot.

John Stamos This Guy Family

John Stamos

If you were required to spend $1,000 today, what would you buy and why?

Food for the homeless.

If you ran for office, what would your slogan be?

I’ll tell you what it wouldn’t be; it would not be “Have Mercy.”

Name one place you'd never been but have always wanted to go.

“Well, I've been to paradise but I've never been to me”

Is there an outfit you regret wearing? 

There are decades of outfits. I don’t know why Uncle Jesse went through a suspender phase.

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John Stamos

Describe your first kiss.

It was under the monorail ride at Disneyland and it was electrifying. I couldn't believe how great; I mean that tingly, warm feeling. And it was innocent.

Favorite Hollywood Chris?

Chris Kattan

The last moment you cried?

Listening to the audio recording I played you about Bob, I started tearing up.

Favorite bagel?

I don’t eat bagels.


  • Photographer
  • Alex Harper

  • Cinematographer
  • Brandon Scott Smith

  • Grooming
  • Ann Masterson

  • Photo Assistant
  • Darrin James

  • AC
  • Derek Smith

  • Special Thanks
  • Polaroid

  • Booking
  • Talent Connect Group
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