If you would have told John Stamos that his made-for-TV life story would one day fill the pages of a book, he wouldn’t have believed you.
The Southern California-born actor, who turned a recurring soap opera role into a 40-plus-year career, takes a humble stroll down memory lane with his debut memoir “If You Would Have Told Me” (Henry Holt and Company, 334 pp., out Oct. 24).
Stamos found teen idol fame with “General Hospital” and later became a sitcom icon with the beloved family comedy “Full House.” Despite these professional thrills, Stamos has weathered heartbreak over the years, from a high-profile divorce with actress Rebecca Romijn to battling alcoholism in the public eye.
“For as many high points as I’ve had in my life, I’ve had a lot of low points, and those are the moments that people can relate to me,” Stamos tells USA TODAY. “It’s a deep dive into a life that I thought wasn’t worthy of a book, but as I wrote it, I realized maybe it is and maybe people will learn a little bit from my experience.”
Here’s what Stamos had to say about the book and his often not-picture-perfect life.
John Stamos would be ‘afraid’ of Bob Saget reading what we reveals about ‘Full House’
Stamos starred on “Full House” from 1987-1995, playing America’s favorite uncle, Jesse Katsopolis. Writing about the sitcom’s near-decade run proved to be the most difficult part of the book, Stamos says, but acknowledging the show’s legacy was important.
“It changed all of our lives, and I’ve spent so many years trying to put it behind me, I wanted to show that I can’t get away from it,” Stamos says. “Why not be proud of something that people really love and that was good and wholesome?”
Stamos also details his creative clashes with co-star Bob Saget, who played family patriarch Danny Tanner, describing him at one point as the “humblest egomaniac I’ve ever met.”
Stamos says his relationship with Saget shifted when his sister, along with Saget and co-star Dave Coulier’s sisters, became seriously ill during the same period.
“I think if (Bob) was alive, I’d be really afraid of him reading the first part of it ‘cause I really highlighted the issues that I had with him,” Stamos says. “But then it comes around when all three of our sisters got sick, and Dave and Bob lost their sisters, and that was the key to Bob and I really connecting.”
John Stamos on the ‘gift’ of playing with The Beach Boys
Stamos went from Beach Boys die hard fan to honorary member of the surf-rock band in the early ‘80s after being spotted by Beach Boys’ tour- and studio-musician Jeffrey Foskett during a Disneyland performance with cover band Papa Doo Run Run. Stamos’ chance encounter with Foskett set into motion a decades-long relationship with The Beach Boys, including several concert performances and guest appearances on Stamos’ show “Full House.”
“I can take all the stuff that I’ve learned from being onstage with them into the sitcom world and theater when you have to hold the stage,” Stamos says. “Watching Mike Love as a frontman, he gives it his absolute all every single night. … He’s been a great inspiration for me.”
For Stamos, the feel-good nature of the band’s music mirrors the optimism of “Full House.” “It’s like comfort food: It feels safe, it feels warm, it reminds (fans) of the past,” he says.
“I see the effect that music has on people, and to be part of that conduit to getting this music out to people and fulfilling their life – maybe it’s just one night, maybe it carries onto the next day – is such a gift,” Stamos says. “It’s an incredible explosion of love and goodness.”
John Stamos reflects on 2015 DUI, finding his ‘fairytale ending’ with sobriety
Stamos gets candid about his battle with alcoholism, which surfaced during his 2002 Broadway run as Emcee in “Cabaret.” What began as “liquid courage” to get through the show became a ritual of “drinking a bottle of wine every performance.”
The actor’s addiction came to a head in 2015 when he was charged with a misdemeanor DUI after driving intoxicated through the streets of Beverly Hills, California.
“Writing about that just made me sick to my stomach because I could’ve killed somebody,” Stamos reflects. “It was just gross where I’d gotten to, where I threw all my family values, morals and beliefs that I’d had for so many years right out the window.”
Following the DUI incident, Stamos began his sobriety journey with an Alcoholics Anonymous treatment program in Utah. He says getting sober has played “a big part (in) my fairytale ending.
“Addiction runs rampant these days, and I just wanted to show people that if I could get through it then anyone can,” Stamos says. “And without it, if I didn’t sober up, I would not have a family. I would not have a son. I would not have a wife. I don’t even know if I’d be alive.”
John Stamos says marrying Caitlin McHugh ‘gave me a life’ after Rebecca Romijn divorce
Stamos pulls back the curtain on his heartbreaking split from Romijn, to whom he was married from 1998-2005. The unraveling of his relationship with the model-actress left Stamos feeling “lost and soulless.”
“I thought I had to be with a certain kind of woman that would elevate who I am, and maybe I needed to be going out with someone with a big life, and it’s all (nonsense),” Stamos says. “It’s just the soul and the heart of somebody that you really want to take a good look at.”
More:John Stamos says he caught ex Teri Copley cheating on him with Tony Danza: ‘My worst nightmare’
Stamos later found his soulmate in actress Caitlin McHugh, whom he met on the set of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” when he guest-starred on the crime drama in 2011. The pair married in February 2018.
“It didn’t change my life. It gave me a life,” Stamos says of his second marriage. “I thought once you’re an adult, that’s a boring life and you’re not having any fun, but that’s actually when life really happened for me – the real life, not show business – but to have a family, to have a son who’s jumping up and down when I come home, to have somebody to share the great stuff with.”
John Stamos on why being a father in midlife is ‘so much better’
Stamos became a first-time dad at 54 when he and McHugh welcomed a son, Billy, in April 2018.
The 5-year-old’s sense of humor is reminiscent of his late friend Saget’s off-colored style. “He’s a little potty mouth,” Stamos says. “He doesn’t say dirty words, but he talks about poop and stuff like that.”
Although Stamos had “wanted kids my whole life,” he says entering fatherhood in middle age has “given me focus and a reason to continue to be a good person.”
“It’s just been so much better that I’m established, and I’m not trying to prove myself,” Stamos says. “I’m not trying to find anything. I’m not trying to figure out who I am or what my career is. I can just focus on being a good dad when I’m with him.”
Parenthood arrived at the perfect time in the movie of Stamos’ life. But if given the chance to do it all over again, the actor wouldn’t ask for a second take.
“We’re on the journey we’re supposed to be,” Stamos says. “And if we’re living properly, and we’re a good person – and we’re kind and loving and not boastful or hateful – then you’re on the right path.”
‘Shattering’:John Stamos opens up about divorce from Rebecca Romijn, childhood sexual assault