To my mom and maybe yours, he's still "Blackie" Parrish from the soap opera "General Hospital." To millions more, he is and will always be Uncle Jesse from the beloved TV series "Full House" and, more recently, "Fuller House."
But to 4-year-old Billy, John Stamos is "Dad." Stamos told TODAY Parents first-time fatherhood in his 50s has been his best role yet.
"I'm very grateful to the gods or to the universe or whatever that I'm an older father. I couldn't have handled it earlier," Stamos said.
"I’ve wanted kids my whole life. I figured, ‘I can’t wait to be a father, I’ve been a TV father,' but it’s a whole different ballgame," he said with a laugh. “It’s the greatest blessing of my life. I couldn’t imagine my life without him, but it is challenging to do it right.”
Although he acknowledged he and his wife, Caitlin McHugh, have people who help them take care of Billy when they need it, he sees now how much work it is, especially with "the way the world is right now" and if both parents are employed outside the home.
"It just takes so much to be a good parent," he said. "It's about sacrifice, it's an enormous amount of love, an enormous amount of patience, common sense, teaching them values and what's right and wrong... and everything's expensive."
Stamos said earlier in his career, he “would not have been mature enough” to raise Billy the way he can now, and he’s enjoying every minute.
“I am so grateful that I’m settled, and I’m cool, and I’m sober, and I’m happy with myself,” he said. “I’m happy with my wife, my wife is content, too, and she’s confident. We’re at a place in our life where we should have eight kids.”
Will they have at least one more child?
“We want to,” he said. “We should.”
Stamos, whose next project is winning younger hearts as the voice behind two characters on Disney Junior — the pirate Salty Bones on Disney’s “Mickey Mouse Funhouse: Pirate Adventure” special debuting this month and the iconic Iron Man in the series “Marvel’s Spidey and his Amazing Friends,” spent part of the summer with his family on tour with The Beach Boys, with whom he sometimes plays.
But though he has rocked with one of the most famous bands in the world, it really took playing Iron Man for Stamos to earn any street cred with the preschool set, he said.
"I've been trying to get Billy to think I was cool since he was two months old," he said, to no avail — until now.
"Now he thinks I'm cool. Now he runs around telling everyone, 'My dad's going to be on 'Spidey!'" Stamos said. "Finally!"
For Stamos, playing a superhero also gives him a chance to step into a role his own dad, Bill, played for him: superhero.
"My dad was the greatest superhero to me. He never became human. He was always the coolest guy. He was always bigger than life to me," said Stamos. "Now, the universe is saying to me, 'It's your turn.'"
Billy is named for Stamos's dad, who died in 2001. Stamos said he tries to make sure Billy's grandfather is a presence in his life, even though he never met him, as well as Bob Saget, Stamos's close friend and cast mate who passed away unexpectedly in January.
"There's a tradition in my family that if we see a hummingbird, it's a representing people from the past who are coming back to say hi," he said. "The day Bob died, I went out on my balcony and there was a hummingbird with a really bright red circle around its neck that flew up near me.
"My mom (Loretta Phillips, who passed away in 2014) used to wear a red scarf, so I asked her, 'Mom, is Bob OK?'" he said. "Billy and I talk about him and my dad a lot, and it's really special."