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Mary-Kate Olsen (born June 13, 1986) is an American actress, producer and fashion designer.[1] Following the huge success of Full House in America, Mary-Kate, alongside her sister Ashley, was able to establish a successful career starring in television and film roles that saw her become an international household name.[2] Founded in 1993, the production company Dualstar was created to produce and merchandise films and TV shows starring Mary-Kate and Ashley, becoming an extremely profitable enterprise.[3] Mary-Kate became joint CEO of Dualstar in 2004, securing her position in the Forbes celebrity rich list.[4]

Since 2006, Mary-Kate has been pursuing acting roles independent of her sister and the "Mary-Kate and Ashley" tag.[5] Her first part was a supporting role in the 2006 film Factory Girl. She has also starred in TV shows such as Weeds[6] and Samantha Who?.[7] The upcoming Beastly is her first major role in a film without her sister Ashley.[8]

Mary-Kate's personal life has also been the subject of tabloid attention. In 2004 her health and subsequent admittance to a treatment facility for anorexia nervosa were subject to intense tabloid attention.[9] Following the death of Heath Ledger in early 2008 Mary-Kate received worldwide press attention speculating her connection to the case,[10][11][12] however she was never interviewed by investigating officers.[13] Her sometimes controversial fashion choices have often found her on both the best[14][15] and worst dressed fashion lists, particularly for her decision to wear fur.[16]


Career beginnings (1986–1993)

Mary-Kate began her career in 1987, aged just nine months old, when she and her twin sister Ashley were given a shared role as Michelle Tanner on the television show Full House.[17] The twins were cast as one character in the shared role because of strict labor laws that limited the amount of time children their age could work. By hiring twins, the producers were able to double the available filming time. The producers also liked that in their audition, Mary-Kate and Ashley loved playing their role and never cried. [18]

Mary-Kate and Ashley success (1993–2005)

Their huge success on Full House led to the creation of Dualstar in 1993, which produced their TV and film roles, and also marketed an extremely profitable line of merchandising including from make-up and clothes. Whilst still starring in the series, Mary-Kate and Ashley were given roles in TV movies especially created for them as twins and seeking to expand their fan base beyond the viewers of Full House.

When the show ended in 1995, Mary-Kate continued to work with Ashley, and together they released a string of successful straight-to-video movies and became popular figures in the preteen market during the late 1990s and early 2000s. They became a household name, with their likeness seen in clothes, books, fragrances, magazines, movies and posters. There were even fashion dolls made by Mattel from 2000–2005.

They starred in the video series The Adventures of Mary-Kate & Ashley, the ABC show Two of a Kind, and ABC Family's So Little Time, for which Mary-Kate received a nomination for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series at the 2002 Daytime Emmy Awards. They were ranked number three on the VH1 program 100 Greatest Child Stars.

In 2004, Mary-Kate appeared alongside her twin sister in the theatrical comedy, New York Minute, also starring Eugene Levy.

Career independence (2006–present)

Seeking to establish independent identities for herself and her sister, Mary-Kate has asked the public and the media to refer to them not as "the Olsen twins" but as Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen respectively.[19]

Subsequently, Mary-Kate's first solo acting appearance was in the movie Factory Girl, released in December 2006. The short scene was ultimately cut from theatrical release, but made part of the DVD. In addition, she has had a recurring role on Showtime's Weeds as Tara Lindman. She appears in the 2008 film The Wackness as Union. At the Sundance Film Festival, co-star and Academy Award–winner Sir Ben Kingsley praised her by saying "Mary-Kate's portrayal of this girl is perfect — she's hysterical. She's a pro. It makes sense. She's been in this business a lot longer than I have."[20] However, this is hyperbole; as Kingsley's first film credit was in 1966, and he even won his Academy Award a few years before Olsen was born.

Mary-Kate made a one-episode appearance on the ABC comedy Samantha Who?. On November 10, 2008 during the second season of the show, Mary-Kate played Natalie in episode 5, a self-destructive, bad girl whom Samantha tries to help while doing community service.[21][22] Her most recent job is a role in the upcoming movie "Beastly", which is based on the book of the same name by Alex Flinn. She also landed the role as Stacey in the movie Story of a Girl the film is in pre-production.


Main article: Dualstar

On her 18th birthday in 2004, Mary-Kate became joint CEO of Dualstar Entertainment Group. At the time, the majority of Dualstar's market share was made up of the "tween" market, built heavily around the image of Mary-Kate and Ashley. Upon taking control of the company, Mary-Kate and Ashley made moves to secure the future of the company by releasing products that appealed to the teen market, including home decoration and fragrances.[23] Their success has been marked on Forbes The Celebrity 100 list since 2002, and in 2007 Forbes ranked the twins as the eleventh-richest women in entertainment, with an estimated net worth of $100 million.[24]


File:Mary Kate Olsen.jpg

Following a high volume of public interest in the sisters' fashion choices, both worked in collaboration on a string of fashion lines, available to the public.

Starting as young girls, they have a clothing line in Wal-Mart stores across America for girls ages 4–14 as well as a beauty line called "Mary-Kate and Ashley: Real fashion for real girls". In 2004, they made news by signing a pledge to allow all the workers that sew their line of clothing in Bangladesh full maternity leave. The National Labor Committee, which organized the pledge, later praised the twins for their commitment to worker rights. The director of the organization, Charles Kernaghan, is quoted as saying:

The Olsen twins have done the right thing. Now it is up to Wal-Mart to either support Mary-Kate and Ashley’s commitment to women’s rights, or tragically to shut them down.[25]
In 2006, the sisters appeared together in an ad campaign for an upscale fashion line Badgley Mischka[26] Mary-Kate and her sister have released The Row, a high-end fashion line inspired by London's Savile Row. The clothing is sold at high-end retailers such as Barneys, Maxfield, Harvey Nichols, Brown's, and others around the world.

Ashley and Mary-Kate continued their expansion in the fashion industry with the Fall '07 launch of Elizabeth and James, their contemporary collection inspired by many of their unique vintage finds and pieces in their personal wardrobes.[27]

In Fall 2008, Mary-Kate and Ashley co-authored a book entitled Influence as a tribute to designers, artists and other industry creative individuals who inspired them.

Her latest project is a line in collaboration with celebrity stylists Jane Magnitude and Fred Holston, who have worked with designers such as Marc Jacobs, Balenciaga, and Christian Louboutin in the past. The exact details have not been announced, but much buzz has been surrounding the trio's up coming line.[28][29]

Public image

Though her fashion choices have become somewhat popular, Olsen has been publicly criticized for wearing and promoting fur.[30]

PETA the international animal rights group has a website dedicated to the “Trollsen Twins”[31]. The animal rights organization is upset with the way that the Olsens wear and promote the wearing of fur by including it in their clothing lines. They’ve stated both twins “ignored pleas to stop wearing fur and using it in their fashion collection.” They go on to call both Mary Kate and Ashley “fur fiends” each with their own name— Mary- Kate (“Hairy Kate”) and Ashley (“Trashley”) — with a tag line: “Fur Is Worn by Beautiful Animals and Ugly People.”

Personal life

In 2005, Mary-Kate Olsen ended her romance with Greek shipping heir Stavros Niarchos III. Mary-Kate said that the breakup was one of the main factors in her leave of absence from New York University. "I miss him and I adore him," Olsen said, "It's a hurtful and a painful subject." When asked if there was a specific reason for her leaving NYU, she replied, "I think we can all guess."[32]

Olsen dated Maxwell Snow, the younger brother of the late New York based artist Dash Snow, from September 2006 until the summer of 2007.[33] In 2008 Olsen started dating Nate Lowman. The two split on February 24, 2010.[34]

Health issues

In mid-2004, Olsen announced she had entered treatment for an eating disorder, anorexia nervosa.[35] On November 20, 2007 she was hospitalized for a reported kidney infection.[36]

Death of Heath Ledger

Mary-Kate was a close friend of late actor Heath Ledger around the time of his death, January 22, 2008. After discovering Ledger unconscious in his bed, his masseuse Diana Wolozin called Olsen twice before contacting police. Olsen sent a private security guard to the scene.[37]

Responding to a claim by an anonymous law enforcement official that she would not speak to federal investigators without a promise of legal immunity, Olsen's attorney Michael C. Miller said:

We have provided the government with relevant information including facts in the chronology of events surrounding Mr. Ledger's death and the fact that Ms. Olsen does not know the source of the drugs Mr. Ledger consumed.[38]


For productions in which Mary-Kate appeared with her sister Ashley, see Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.
Year Title Role Notes
1987 - 1995 Full House Michelle Tanner Part-time role
1999 Switching Goals Sam Stanton Main role
2002 Getting There Kylie Hunter Main role
2004 New York Minute Roxy Ryan Main Role
2006 Factory Girl Molly Spence Small scene/guest
2007 Weeds Tara Lindman 8 episodes
2008 The Wackness Union Part-time role
Samantha Who? Karen McNeicep 1 episode
2011 Beastly Kendra Hilferty Completed

Awards and nominations

See also

Further reading


  1. "Rich Girls: The Olsen Twins". CBS News. December 22, 2003. Retrieved 2008-04-06. Fraternal twins Mary-Kate and Ashley had been splitting a role on the television network sitcom "Full House" since they were 9 months old and in diapers 
  3. Horyn, Cathy. The New York Times  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. "Mary-Kate Olsen steps out solo as "Weeds" regular". Reuters. May 24, 2007. 
  9. Soriano, César G. (June 22, 2004). "Mary-Kate in treatment". USA Today. 
  10. "Masseuse who found Heath Ledger's body made two calls to actress Mary-Kate Olsen before calling emergency services". Daily Mail (London). January 25, 2008. 
  11. "Olsen twin denies Ledger drugs link". AFP. August 6, 2008. 
  12. "Mary-Kate Olsen keeps mum about Ledger's death: police". CBC News. August 4, 2008. Archived from the original on August 8, 2012. 
  13. "Ledger's death caused by accidental overdose". CNN. February 6, 2008. 
  18. url= | location=London | work=The Guardian | title=Billion dollar baby | first=William | last=Leith | date=November 5, 2006}}
  19. People Magazine: WEEK IN REVIEW: Olsens Test Audiences
  20. Williamson, Kevin. "Kingsley bonds with 'real actor' Olsen". Edmonton 22 January 2008.
  21. Mary-Kate Olsen Guest Stars on Samantha Who?
  22. [1]
  23. Hopkins, Jim (May 6, 2005). "Olsens face growing pains". USA Today. 
  24. Goldman, Lea and Kiri Blakeley. "In Pictures: The Richest 20 Women In Entertainment". 17 January 2007.
  25. Grossberg, Josh. Mary-Kate, Ashley: No Sweat. E! Online. 9 December 2004.
  26. Hall, Sarah. Olsen Twins Strike a Pose. E! ONline. February 15, 2006.
  27. Ashley and Mary-Kate's sisterly bond. Times of India. 11 August 2007.
  28. Mary Kate's New Line. NY Mag. August 2008.
  29. Mary Kate Olsen Biography. Biography. 2009.
  30. "PETA Sends Olsens a Birthday Gift".  The New York Observer
  31. Meet The Trollson Twins, Peta2
  32. Sherpe, Gina. Mary-Kate Talks Paris, Stavros. E! Online. 9 December 2005.
  35. Soriano, César G. "Mary-Kate Olsen seeks treatment for eating disorder." USA Today. 22 June 2004.
  36. "Mary-Kate Olsen hospitalized for kidney infection". USA 20 November 2007.
  37. Andy Newman and Al Baker (2008-01-24). "Autopsy on Actor Is Inconclusive As Calls for Help Are Revealed". The New York Times ( Retrieved 2008-03-18. 
  38. "Official: Olsen seeks immunity in Ledger probe", Associated Press

External links

cy:Mary-Kate Olsen

ru:Олсен, Мэри-Кейт sr:Мери-Кејт Олсен sv:Mary-Kate Olsen

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