For eight seasons, audiences around the world were captivated by and enamored with the wholesome, sweet stories of the lives of the extended Tanner family, even if critics were anything but welcoming to the series.
Thirty years after Full House first premiered, its impact is still astonishing, with new generation after new generation being exposed to the series in reruns.
Even further, Netflix has now produced three seasons of a follow up series, Fuller House, that relies on the same plot convention as the first series, with the main characters’ genders swapped.
The series’ blend of nostalgic influence and (mostly) family friendly message has allowed it to become one of Netflix’s most streamed series, even though critics once again look askance at the sugary sweetness.
A major component of what made the original Full House series work so well was its perfect mix of family situation comedy, with a dash of romance, and an impressively well-rounded cast of supporting and guest characters.
Even though you may not have realized it at the time, many of those guest stars were either well-renowned entertainers in their time, or just starting their own journey toward stardom.
To see what we mean, here are the 20 Celebrities You Never Knew Were On Full House.
20. Danielle Fishel
Though she would play all around sweetheart and genius Topanga Lawrence for seven seasons of Boy Meets World, and three seasons of Girl Meets World on top of that, Danielle Fishel’s recurring role on Full House as Jennifer P. couldn’t have been any more different from Topanga.
As one half of the Jennifer duo, popular girls who look down on the so uncool Stephanie, Fishel’s role consisted primarily of speaking in Valley girl-esque sync with the other Jennifer and subtly peer pressuring Stepahnie into making bad ideas that included getting her ears pierced by none other than Kimmy Gibbler.
19. Tia and Tamera Mowry
Tahj wasn’t the only Mowry kid to appear on Full House, either. Although they only appeared in one episode, both Tia and Tamera Mowry had a guest starring appearance as Teddy’s older sister, Denise.
In the episode “The Devil Made Me Do It”, during a particularly bratty streak for Michelle, the youngest member of the Tanner clan decides to run away from home and take up lodging at Teddy’s house.
When she arrives there, Teddy’s entire family greets her, with older sister Denise pointing out just how cute little Michelle is and asking if they can keep her for real.
18. Suzanne Somers
For certain celebrities, the cameo doesn’t require a whole lot of screentime for the mark to be made. Take, for example, Suzanne Somers’ appearance in Full House. When Steve goes to attend an event in Los Angeles for a film studies course he’s taking, he calls to reconnect with DJ, as they’ve been drifting lately and made plans to touch base.
But when they’re talking on the phone, Steve is interrupted by someone who needs to make a call, and it’s none other than Suzanne Somers herself. Steve is immediately flabbergasted, rushing himself off the phone with DJ as he completely fanboys over meeting Somers in person.
This is a rare cameo that would be recognized by both kids and parents alike, as Somers was known for playing Chrissy on Three’s Company in the 1970s, and as Carol Lambert on the 1990s family sitcom Step by Step.
17. Ernie Hudson
In season one of Full House, Danny Tanner works as a sports reporter for the local news station. Episode seven, “Knock Yourself Out,” follows his first big opportunity at broadcasting nationally by covering a big boxing match.
One of the boxers involved in the fight is a star named Reggie “The Sandman” Martin. Just as they’re speaking for the pre-fight interview for the coverage of the event, Danny lets slip the fact that Reggie’s wife has decided to leave him, something the boxer had been kept in the dark about by his manager.
The Sandman is totally thrown off his game, completely emotional to the point of being knocked out early in the fight.
16. Tahj Mowry
With the exception of permanent fixture Kimmy Gibbler, the friends on Full House more or less went through a reolving door. Stephanie had Harry Takayama, Walter S. Berman, Mickey, and Gia. Michelle had Aaron, Denise, Derek, and Lisa.
However, without any doubt, the best of Michelle’s friends was and always will be the adorable Teddy. Wonderfully wary and always ready with the perfect retort, her pint size partner in crime was as charming as he was adorable.
The episode in which he informs Michelle that he’s moving away perfectly blends childhood sadness with over the top humor.
15. Mickey Rooney
Perfectly aware of the fact that its audience would consist of not only children, but the parents watching along with them, many members of Full House‘s impressive guest cast are legends within their respective fields, icons from the 1940s-1970s who would be welcome faces for parents to children of the 1980s and 1990s.
In the show’s final Christmas episode, “Arrest Ye Merry Gentlemen”, Michelle and Jesse get trapped in a curmudgeonly old man’s joke shop on Christmas Eve.
Over time, the owner, Mr. Dreghorn, admits that he’s feeling hurt because he has no family to spend Christmas with. Of course, Michelle invites him to join the Tanner-Katsopolis-Gladstone clan, and soon enough, he’s arriving at the party in full Santa gear.
14. Barry Williams
As another cameo that was clearly intended for the parents’ enjoyment, Barry Williams of The Brady Bunch fame appears as himself in an incredibly tongue in cheek role.
After Jesse’s band, The Rippers, kicks him out, they soon take up with Barry Williams instead, producing a song called “April Girls” that becomes a smash hit in multiple markets in a way that songs by Jesse and The Rippers had never been able to.
This cameo, of course, has an extra amusing layer to it, given Williams’ past role as Greg Brady on The Brady Bunch. The musically inclined band of kids put out albums and took part in singing competitions over the duration of the series’ run, which allows this episode to blur the line between fiction and reality and meta commentary in particularly fun ways.
13. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Full House didn’t only feature veteran actors, comedians, and musicians. Sometimes, legendary athletes appeared as well.
Look no further than the season eight episode “Air Jesse”. When Jesse agrees to take part in the charity basketball game that DJ and Kimmy are organizing, he’s forced to reveal that his basketball skills are basically nonexistent.
He tries his best to learn on his own how to play the game, but it’s only with the help of the charity game’s celebrity referee that he starts to learn the ins and outs of the game.
12. The Beach Boys
Given John Stamos’s musical talents and connections, it came as no real surprise that Full House would introduce musical guest stars every once in a while, usually appearing as themselves.
No case could be clearer than the recurring appearances of the 1960s group The Beach Boys. The entire band appears in the second season episode “Beach Boy Bingo”, in which DJ wins a radio contest to attend one of their concerts.
Band members Mike Love and Bruce Johnston would have additional appearances in the series, taking part in the episodes “Our Very First Telethon” and “Captain Video (Part 1)” to aid Jesse and company with musical help whenever it was needed.
11. Phyllis Diller
Sometimes, when celebrities guest star in series as themselves, they’re asked to portray louder versions of themselves, over emphasized for either dramatic or comedic effect. But other times, celebrities get to more or less be themselves and do the things they usually do anyway.
That case seems to apply to Phyllis Diller, who appears as herself in the season one episode “But Seriously Folks”.
Diller shows up at a comedy club at the time when Joey is scheduled to perform his stand up routine, but when the evening’s host is distracted by the distinctive sound of the legendary comedian’s hoarse laughter, the slot that was meant to be Joey’s is given to Diller instead.
10. Vanna White
It’s rare to find an older sitcom that doesn’t feature an episode that revolves around an incredibly bizarre dream. And what teenager doesn’t have a dream about either missing or horribly failing a test?
For DJ Tanner, that test just so happens to be the SAT, which has suddenly had all of its rules changed at the very last minute after she dreams of over-sleeping. She does horribly on the exam, failing to even spell her name right.
Her results are revealed in a completely over the top way, as suddenly, Wheel of Fortune‘s Vanna White appears and reveals “Clown U” as the college her SAT scores will send her to. White also reappears at the end of the episode, when DJ is awake and actually taking the test, as the exam proctor.
9. Jason Marsden
Let’s face it: not a single love interest has been worthy of DJ if there name wasn’t Steve Hale. (For the record, the same still holds true on Fuller House, too.)
While he was nowhere near as bad as the oafish rocker Viper, DJ’s rich boyfriend Nelson Burkhard wasn’t exactly a great choice either. Alternating between overwhelmingly showy and snobbish and occasionally tolerable, the privileged nerd was never a good match for the show on a whole either.
It’s really no fault of Jason Marsden’s, however, as the actor was quite hilarious in his role as Eric Matthews’ best friend in the earlier days of Boy Meets World, and he’s now made a real name for himself in the voice work world.
8. Wayne Newton
For a show based in California, and featuring many entertainers in its cast of characters, it was only a matter of time before Las Vegas became a crucial element in the series.
Season two includes a family trip to Lake Tahoe, involving a stay at the fabulous Ali Baba Hotel and Casino and setting the stage for a future trip to Las Vegas. Jesse’s obsession with all things Elvis certainly doesn’t hurt there either.
But it’s the season four episode “Viva Las Joey” that finds the extended Tanner clan heading to Las Vegas so that Joey can perform as an opening act for a renowned Las Vegas performer.
7. June Lockhart
For some reason, sitcoms seem to think it’s hilarious when children try to play matchmaker for their parents.
In the season five episode “Matchmaker Michelle,” Michelle has made up her mind that her kindergarten teacher, the sweet sixty something year old Miss Wiltrout, is the perfect woman for her thirty something father Danny. She arranges a meeting for them with lunch and everything, only later informing a befuddled Danny that she considers this a date.
While Miss Wiltrout and Danny do have some things in common (their cleanliness, for one), it’s beyond clear that no matter how kindhearted she may be, Miss Wiltrout and Danny are not exactly made for each other.
Veteran TV star June Lockhart appeared as Miss Wiltrout, an actress renowned in the past for her starring roles on series such as General Hospital, Petticoat Junction, and the cult science fiction series Lost in Space.
6. Marcia Wallace
In four episodes across seasons seven and eight, Joey Gladstone found himself the object of some very unwanted affections.
Mrs. Carruthers, a middle-aged member of the neighborhood watch and PTA committee, was unabashed in her pursuit of Joey, even getting physical with him on a few occasions in the name of pursuing some awkward laughs. No matter how far Joey ran, he couldn’t seem to escape her and her very loud personality.
Mrs. Carruthers was portrayed by Marcia Wallace, who would have been known to older audience members as the sassy secretary Carol Kester on The Bob Newhart Show, and to later audiences as fourth grade teacher Edna Krabappel on The Simpsons.
5. Will Estes
Even as she aged into the junior high demographic, Stephanie never really had a consistent love interest. She had a few dates here and there, and one episode included her being stood up by a guy who Danny then intimidates while holding cans of Spam. (The later seasons got really weird.)
But in the series finale, Stephanie has a crush on Andrew, the boy she’s starring with in Romeo and Juliet…except he won’t kiss her when they rehearse the kissing scene. As it turns out, he was merely nervous because he liked her, too, and by the end of the finale, they finally share a sweet first kiss.
4. Little Richard
Sometimes, bringing in a music icon isn’t good enough. Sometimes, shows feel the need to make the musical icon inexplicably related to one of their own characters.
In the episode “Too Little Richard Too Late”, Michelle’s friend Denise reveals that her uncle Richard is in town and that he’s incredibly musically inclined, making him a perfect choice to perform at the rally to support Joey’s campaign for PTA president.
At first, the suggestion of Denise’s random uncle performing is laughed off… until he shows up at the Tanner home, revealing himself to be the legendary and wonderfully enthusiastic singer Little Richard.
3. Jaleel White
It was surprisingly standard fare for the TGIF series to cross over with one another, even when the crossovers didn’t make a single bit of sense. A mild example of this can be found in the episode of Full House featuring a guest appearance by Family Matters star Jaleel White as his bespectacled nerd icon, Steve Urkel.
Never minding the fact that Family Matters is based in Chicago and Full House is set in San Francisco, Steve is suddenly in the area, visiting a previously unheard of cousin, who just happens to suddenly be friends with DJ.
Steve follows her around and inadvertently crosses paths with many members of the Tanner household, giving Michelle some change for her piggy bank along with an economics lesson; trying to coach Jesse on his patented Urkel dance moves; and gives Stephanie advice on how to embrace the fact that she now has to wear glasses.
2. Kirk Cameron
Family members appearing on each other’s television shows isn’t exactly something new. As we saw in our article on Boy Meets World guest stars, it’s especially common for siblings to make guest appearances on one another’s series.
In season one of Full House, we get the same sort of scenario, as renowned teen heartthrob Kirk Cameron, older brother of Candace Cameron Bure, popped over to Full House for a single episode as DJ, Stephanie, and Michelle’s cousin, Steve.
Steve, a onetime nerd who formerly spent much of his time with DJ, has now gone through puberty and turned into a guy’s guy, wanting to spend all his time on all things sports with the guys.
Kirk Cameron, of course, was then a star in his own right on Growing Pains, also an ABC series, so it’s possible the guest starring role was also a business-minded decision in addition to a sibling crossover.
1. Doris Roberts
Doris Roberts had a real career surge later in her life, making a whole new name for herself by playing the overbearing, yet deeply devoted mother, Marie Barone, on the long-running and acclaimed sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond. For her work as Marie, Roberts earned four Emmy awards.
Yet long before Marie Barone, Roberts had a single episode turn as a somewhat similar mother, Danny Tanner’s mother Claire, affectionately known as “Granny Tanny.”
Newly retired and seemingly without purpose, Claire decides impulsively to move into the Tanner home, a result of Danny’s well-meaning but misguided attempt at making her feel as though they were unable to get by without her.
Her character, though sadly a one off, nevertheless leaves a lasting impression of warmth and kindness, tinged with hyper cleanliness that explains much of how Danny Tanner became the man he is today.
Who are your favorite Full House guest stars? Let us know in the comments!
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