Mary-Kate appeared superskinny at the twins' Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony April 29, sparking concern.
Like nearly everything they do, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen had planned to spend their 18th birthday on June 13 side by side. But when the much-hyped day arrived, Ashley was left to celebrate without her twin sister, first poolside at the Beverly Hills Hotel and then with a jaunt to Mexico with two pals. One week later the reason for Mary-Kate's absence became clear: The star, recently the focus of speculation regarding her increasingly frail-looking body, had been admitted to an undisclosed facility for treatment related to an eating disorder. "This is a challenge that Mary-Kate has made a decision to face," says her rep Michael Pagnotta. "This is a challenge she will meet."
The admission struck a sad and troubled note for Mary-Kate, who along with Ashley has turned their image as positive, clean-scrubbed role models into a business empire that grossed more than $1 billion in sales last year. Yet to friends, family and even casual onlookers, the subject of Mary-Kate's health has been a source of concern in recent months. Although the petite twins (Mary-Kate is 5'2"; Ashley is 5'1") have always been slender, Mary-Kate appeared to be painfully thin of late. So widespread was the talk about her weight that the actress herself poked fun at it when the twins hosted the May 15 Saturday Night Live
; playing paparazzi photographers, they shouted, "Mary-Kate, you're so skinny – eat a sandwich!" Sadly, beneath the playfulness was a health crisis. "There was an intervention," says someone who has known the Olsens for several years, adding that the twins' father, Dave, and Mary-Kate's therapist committed her to a treatment facility soon after her June 7 high school graduation. "They finally reached the point where they had to act. They didn't want to find her dead on the floor from not eating."
Those close to the star say that there was no single incident that triggered the decision to seek professional treatment; rather, Mary-Kate's problems had steadily worsened with time. One source says that the change in Mary-Kate, who dates Boston University student David Katzenberg, 21 (his dad is DreamWorks studio cofounder Jeffrey Katzenberg), first became evident two years ago. "She looked different," says the source. "She developed circles under her eyes." Staging the intervention before Mary-Kate turned 18 meant that her parents still had a legal right to seek treatment for her.