Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, look-alikes who are actually fraternal, not identical, twins, broke into the entertainment business when they were just 9 months old. They shared the role of Michelle on the ABC sitcom "Full House" during its popular late 1980s-to-mid-'90s run.
Their wide-eyed innocence and cute catch phrases like, "You got it, dude," made them the lynchpins of the series. They'd been working for Screen Actors Guild scale, at $4,000 an episode, until friends reportedly told their mother, Jarnette, how valuable they were to the hit comedy. Soon after, with the help of a newly hired attorney, the girls' pay jumped to $25,000 an episode and reached $80,000 by the series' last year.
The sisters parlayed their TV show appeal into a media and merchandising empire that grew to be worth an estimated $1 billion, starting with books, albums and direct-to-video releases, for which they own all the copyrights. They started making Forbes "Celebrity 100" list in 2002, and the magazine ranked them, collectively, the 11th richest women in entertainment in 2007.
Their licensed product lines have included a popular clothing line at Walmart, which launched in the late '90s, Mattel dolls, accessories and jewelry, video games, fragrances and room decor. Their foray into merchandise paved the way for the next generation of young starlets, including Hilary Duff and Miley Cyrus, to create products aimed at a previously ignored but lucrative demographic, teen and pre-teen girls.
The twins were executive producers by the time they were 7 years old, when they set up Dualstar Entertainment Group Inc. They became copresidents when they turned 18. They starred in a number of DVD romps like "Passport to Paris" that made hundreds of millions of dollars. After "Full House," they starred in another TV comedy, "Two of a Kind," that didn't catch on with viewers but did spawn a hit book series.
They enrolled in New York University in 2004 and relocated to New York, where they studied at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, which allowed them to custom-create their program.
While they've continued their involvement in the entertainment business, they've also dug deeper into fashion. They were tapped as the faces of Badgley Mischka in 2006 and started a couture label, The Row.