By Michael A. Lipton
September 27, 1999 12:00 PM

The five-bedroom Malibu Mountain house that former Full House star John Stamos shares with his wife of one year, supermodel Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, is filled with diversions. There’s a master suite with a gym, a music room, even a swimming pool with a small grotto. So what else does the glam couple do for fun? “Most of the time I’m tackling her in the backyard and tickling her,” says Stamos. Or, he adds, “we turn on music and practice weird dance steps.” Adds Rebecca: “We chase each other around the house like goofballs. He just makes me laugh so hard, my sides ache.”

Especially in August, when, for his 36th birthday, he and Rebecca, 26, threw a cross-dressing party. “Rebecca came as me in the ’80s, with a really bad wig. I had to have two different outfits,” says Stamos, who started the evening as a French maid. “Later I changed into my slutty outfit, with a patent leather skirt and a feather boa. I think I was the ugliest woman I’ve ever seen.”

Fans of the handsome six-footer will appreciate how much better he looks in a business suit. Sealed with a Kiss, a CBS TV movie, casts Stamos as a rising corporate exec who suddenly chucks his career and snooty fiancée (the boss’s daughter) and falls in love with a down-to-earth activist played by Annabeth Gish. Gish, 28, got a kick acting opposite her former teen idol. “I grew up with him on my TV set,” she says. As Uncle Jesse, the amiable hunk who helped raise the Olsen twins and their TV siblings on ABC’s Full House (1988-95), Gish notes, “he was definitely crush material.”

For Stamos, however, being typecast as a sitcom stud nearly smothered his career. Though wealthy from Full House syndication residuals, “the further I get away from that show, the better it is for me,” says the actor, who at one point began playing rapists and murderers in TV movies to free himself of Jesse. Now, he says, “people are slowly starting to disassociate me from that role.”

Growing up in Cypress, Calif., the oldest of three children born to Bill Stamos, a restaurateur, and his wife, Loretta, a former swimsuit model, “I was a kid trying to get attention and approval,” he says. “I’d do these makeup jobs with fake blood, and I’d run into the school nurse’s office and scream, ‘I was hit by a car!’ ”

A junior high school production of Our Town kindled Stamos’s interest in an acting career. Six months after graduating from high school in 1981, he landed the role of Blackie Parrish, a street tough, on General Hospital. Suddenly he was receiving 10,000 fan letters a week.

After two seasons, he moved to prime time, including a role as Jack Klugman’s son in You Again? (1986-87). The sitcom’s consultant, Garry Marshall, recommended Stamos for Full House‘s Jesse.

His love life has run a bumpier course. In 1994, after romances with singers Vanity and Paula Abdul and a three-year relationship with model Julie Anderson, Stamos met Romijn backstage at a Victoria’s Secret fashion show in New York City, where the future SPORTS ILLUSTRATED swimsuit cover girl had been posing. “I fell stone head over heels in love,” he says. But it wasn’t until Christmas Eve, 1997, that Stamos proposed—in bed and in the buff—handing her a four-carat diamond ring. Last Sept. 19 they wed in a Beverly Hills Hotel ceremony attended by 400 guests, including Romijn’s fellow supermodel Tyra Banks, actor David Spade and Stamos’s old Housemates. Recalls one, Candace Cameron Bure: “He had tears coming down his cheeks. You could tell he was really ready to get married.”

In the view of his Full House spouse, Lori Loughlin, “Rebecca has added the stability to his life that he was looking for.” Stamos agrees. “Rebecca’s challenging to me. When I’m around her I want to be a better person.” He’s certainly a better chef. “I cooked one meal for him after we dated [a fried tofu and eggs dish],” she says, “and he asked me to never cook again. Every time I try to, he snatches the pan out of my hand.”

For now, Stamos is just sauteing for two. “I love kids,” he says, “but it’s really Rebecca’s time to focus on her career now,” just as Stamos is concentrating on his. This fall he’s executive producer of an ABC mini-series about his idols, the Beach Boys, whom Stamos, a talented drummer, has joined on summer tours since 1985. Recently he wrapped Dropping Out, an independent film in which, he says, “I’m playing this really cheesy porn [magazine] editor.” The role called for him to wear a minuscule pair of jean shorts—but the cross-dressing birthday boy balked. “I have the world’s skinniest legs,” explains Stamos. “I’ve never shown them. But then I realized it was perfect for the character!” So he donned the shorts. “I looked so cheesy. I just loved it!”

Michael A. Lipton

Ulrica Wihlborg in Los Angeles