Schwimmer Money: 1990s TV Stars Who Were Rolling in the Dough
The ‘90s weren’t just the golden age of fashion (tattoo chokers and brown lipstick, anyone?), they were also a golden age of cheesy television. Here are some of the most ridiculously overpaid TV stars of the 1990s.
The Olsen Twins
When Full House hit the airwaves in 1987, nobody would have guessed that the breakout stars of the show would be 9-month-old twins Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. But by 1991, their character Michelle Tanner was ranked as the most recognizable and likeable character on TV, which, as we learned from the laughably bad yet somehow totally watchable Lifetime movie the Unauthorized Full House Story, greatly angered their fellow castmates.
Their initial combined salary was $2,400 per show, which jumped to $25,000 by the third season with the help of the girls’ shrewd lawyer. By the end of the show’s run, the twins were making a combined salary of nearly $80,000 per episode. Not bad for a couple of eight-year-olds!
America’s favorite love-stricken nerd Steve Urkel was only supposed to be a one-time guest role on ABC’s ‘90s sitcom Family Matters, but for some reason, his nasally whine of “did I do thaaaat?” resonated with the audience and actor Jaleel White was bumped up to a cast regular.
By the third season, fifteen-year-old White was the star of the show and was pulling down $100,000 per episode, which he claims his parents kept secret from him; not in a nefarious Jackie Coogan sort of way, but rather as an attempt to encourage White to continue to act for the love of it and not for the money.
Despite the fortune it garnered him, White was happy to take off his suspenders after a nine-season run, saying that playing a teenage nerd made him purposely hinder his own development in order to stay true to the character.
For some viewers, The X-Files practically defined the ‘90s and thanks to the show’s popularity, its stars were paid handsomely. Well, at least one of them was. David Duchovny, who played the conspiracy-loving Fox Mulder on the hit sci-fi series, was reportedly making $110,000 per episode as far back as 1998. However, Gillian Anderson, who played skeptical detective Dana Scully, has since revealed that she was being paid significantly less than her male co-star.
“At the beginning of The X-Files, the pay disparity was massive… But that happens all the time in Hollywood. It’s ‘Do this for me, I’ll get you a job’. It’s easy to miss and it’s easy to get used to it,” she said.
Any X-Files fan worth their salt knows Mulder was nothing without the smart and sassy Scully by his side, so hopefully both actors will be making bank when the series returns in 2016 after a thirteen-year hiatus.