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Aaron Spelling

Aaron Spelling

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Also Known As: Died: June 23, 2006
Born: April 22, 1923 Cause of Death: stroke
Birth Place: Dallas, Texas, USA Profession: producer, screenwriter, actor, roadie for a band, director, playwright, talent scout

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

yielding not one, but two spin-off series.The first was "Melrose Place" (Fox, 1992-99), which followed the adult goings-on in an L.A.-based apartment complex inhabited by a host of well-scrubbed, upwardly mobile twenty-somethings. It too quickly evolved from drama to soap opera, with the good-looking cast hopping in and out of each otherâ¿¿s beds like clockwork. The arrival of Heather Locklear as the scheming Amanda, who made life for Courtney Thorne-Smithâ¿¿s kindly Alison a living hell, signaled the showâ¿¿s full immersion into soap-dom, where it developed into a guilty pleasure for viewers and even a few critics. It too produced a spin-off, "Models Inc." (Fox, 1994-95), with "Dallas" (CBS, 1978-1991) star Linda Gray as the mother of Locklearâ¿¿s character and owner of a cutthroat modeling agency. Despite the presence of Gray and Emma Samms from "The Colbys," it failed to repeat the success of its franchise mate. Almost a world away from the confectionary plotting of "Melrose" and "90210" was "And the Band Played On" (HBO, 1993), Spellingâ¿¿s production of Randy Shiltsâ¿¿ non-fiction book about the discovery of the AIDS virus and its explosion into a global pandemic. The feature won the Emmy for...

yielding not one, but two spin-off series.

The first was "Melrose Place" (Fox, 1992-99), which followed the adult goings-on in an L.A.-based apartment complex inhabited by a host of well-scrubbed, upwardly mobile twenty-somethings. It too quickly evolved from drama to soap opera, with the good-looking cast hopping in and out of each otherâ¿¿s beds like clockwork. The arrival of Heather Locklear as the scheming Amanda, who made life for Courtney Thorne-Smithâ¿¿s kindly Alison a living hell, signaled the showâ¿¿s full immersion into soap-dom, where it developed into a guilty pleasure for viewers and even a few critics. It too produced a spin-off, "Models Inc." (Fox, 1994-95), with "Dallas" (CBS, 1978-1991) star Linda Gray as the mother of Locklearâ¿¿s character and owner of a cutthroat modeling agency. Despite the presence of Gray and Emma Samms from "The Colbys," it failed to repeat the success of its franchise mate. Almost a world away from the confectionary plotting of "Melrose" and "90210" was "And the Band Played On" (HBO, 1993), Spellingâ¿¿s production of Randy Shiltsâ¿¿ non-fiction book about the discovery of the AIDS virus and its explosion into a global pandemic. The feature won the Emmy for Outstanding Dramatic Film, along with a host of notable awards and nominations.

After several failed attempts to mount a new series, Spelling found another hit in "7th Heaven," a family-oriented drama about a minister (Stephen Collins) and his well-scrubbed, respectful family. Initially dismissed as toothless and square, it blossomed into one of the fledgling WB Networkâ¿¿s biggest hits, as well as the longest- running family drama in television history then to date. The series was able to weather the departure of several key players, including co-star Jessica Biel, who infamously protested her characterâ¿¿s lack of backbone by posing semi-nude in a menâ¿¿s magazine at the age of 16. Spelling quickly followed this with "Charmed" (The WB, 1998-2006), a sassy fantasy-drama about a trio of witches who balanced their fight against the forces of evil with everyday issues of romance and family. The series initially made headlines when Shannen Doherty was brought from the wilderness to reunite with Spelling; however, the actress departed the show after three seasons amidst yet again, accusations of diva behavior, and was replaced by Rose McGowan. "Charmed" enjoyed the highest rated debut of any show in The WBâ¿¿s history, and became one of its cornerstone hits.

While shepherding his latest flock of programs, Spelling also had a hand in seeing several of his veteran series make the transition to feature films. The first of these was "The Mod Squad" (1999), which updated the action to the present and starred Claire Danes, Omar Epps and Giovanni Ribisi as the new Squad. A dreadful script helped to sink the project, but the next effort, "Charlieâ¿¿s Angels" (2000), was a huge success. Produced by and starring Drew Barrymore with Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu, the film, directed by video helmer McG, took a tongue-in-cheek tone towards the material, which helped modern viewers get past the harebrained premise and leering tone of the original. John Forsytheâ¿¿s return as the voice of Charlie served as a welcome connection between the series and its new incarnation. A sequel, "Charlieâ¿¿s Angels: Full Throttle" (2003), which featured a cameo by Jaclyn Smith, repeated the box office success, if not the positive critical reaction. The following year, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson stepped into the flared pants of "Starsky & Hutch" (2004), a broad comic version of the cop show directed by Todd Phillips, which performed modestly at the box office.

Spelling continued to develop and produce series for television, but by 2000, with five decades of work in the medium behind him, he handed over the reins of Spelling television to E. Duke Vincent and company president Jonathan Levin. He also took time to reflect on his storied career in his 1996 autobiography, Aaron Spelling: A Prime-Time Life. From 1998 to 2000, he was feted by his industry with a host of awards, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Producers Guild of Americaâ¿¿s David Susskind Lifetime Achievement in Television Award in 2000. In 2001, Spelling was diagnosed with oral cancer, the result of a lifelong smoking habit. He continued to make appearances at Spelling Productions, but in 2006, he suffered a severe stroke at home and was hospitalized. At the time, he was enmeshed in an ugly legal suit by a former nurse, who charged him with sexual harassment and unlawful termination. Five days after the stroke, Spelling died and was entombed in a mausoleum at Hillside Memorial Park in Culver City. A month later, he was feted by a galaxy of his former stars, including Joan Collins, Farrah Fawcett and Heather Locklear, at the 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. Though he lived in the biggest home and enjoyed one of the most grandiose careers and lifestyles, it came as a surprise to some to hear virtually all of the actors who populated his many series speak of the quiet simplicity of the man and of his intense loyalty to his stable of stars. Whether they behaved or not, whether they were deemed out-of-style or not, he seemed to view them all as his children, which made his passing even more difficult.

Turmoil between Spellingâ¿¿s widow and daughter Tori dominated the news in the years following his death. The pair had become estranged due to many issues that had occurred while Spelling was still alive but ignited in the days following his death: Candy publicly claimed Toriâ¿¿s split from her Jewish husband for a married man, and her refusal to visit her ailing father had hastened her late husbandâ¿¿s death. Tori let fly that her mother was nothing more than a "merry widow," claiming Candy had had an affair while her husband lay dying. The fracture grew even deeper when it was reported that Toriâ¿¿s inheritance from her fatherâ¿¿s $500 million estate was just $800,000 before taxes. In 2009, Candy put the home up for sale â¿¿ at a price tag of $150 million, which made it the most expensive home in the United States. She told the press that she would not have put the house up for sale if she had had any connection with her daughter. By 2010, however, it was reported that the Spellings had resolved their differences, but while it lasted, the familyâ¿¿s real-life soap opera shocked the country and dismayed all the actors who had grown to love Spelling as something of a father-figure, with many publicly decrying the mother-daughter war as something Spelling would never have wanted to happen in the wake of his death.roducing "Day One" (CBS), a drama about the Manhattan Project and the building of the first atomic bomb.

In 1990, Spelling moved into youth entertainment with "Beverly Hills, 90210," a primetime series set at a high school in the wealthy Los Angeles neighborhood. Initially envisioned as a series built around real-life issues, Spelling and producing partner E. Duke Vincent revamped creator Darren Starâ¿¿s series into a hormonally driven, melodramatic soap opera along the lines of "Dynasty" for the younger set. The show, which pitted Midwestern transplants Shannen Doherty and Jason Priestly against the wealth and decadence of a gaggle of Beverly Hills teens â¿¿ including Spellingâ¿¿s own daughter, Tori â¿¿ quickly became a pop culture phenomenon, with Doherty, Priestley and co-leads Luke Perry and Jennie Garth rising to the top of the teen popularity charts. It also echoed "Dynasty" in its level of backstage machinations: Doherty proved to be a reluctant team player, and was removed from the show in 1994, while many of the stars rebelled against their newly minted teen idol status. Spelling and his daughter were consistently accused of nepotism, when Toriâ¿¿s acting was deemed embarrassing during the showâ¿¿s early years. His refusal to replace her did little to quiet his critics. Despite the headaches, the show proved to be a goldmine for Spelling,

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 The Spirit of St. Louis (1957) Mr. Fearless
2.
 The Bamboo Prison (1955) Skinny
3.
 Target Zero (1955) Pfc. Strangler
4.
 Wyoming Renegades (1955) Petie Carver
5.
 Kismet (1955) Beggar
6.
 Mad at the World (1955) Willie Hanson
7.
 Three Young Texans (1954) Catur
8.
 Alaska Seas (1954) Knifer
9.
 Black Widow (1954) Mr. Oliver
10.
 Vicki (1953) Harry Williams
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in Texas
1942:
Served in US Air Force; worked as a correspondent for STARS AND STRIPES; wounded by sniper's bullet in left hand and knee
:
Directed several plays at Playhouse and Margo Jones Theatre in Dallas, Texas, and the Players Theatre in Los Angeles
:
Wrote his first play, "Thorns in the Road", based on his nightmarish WWII experiences; staged play with his "mail-room guys"--a group of fledgling actors who worked in the same office building as he did when he arrived in Los Angeles
1953:
Acted in first feature, "Vicki"
1956:
Sold his first script to Dick Powell's "Zane Grey Theater"
1957:
Became producer at Four Star
:
Created first TV series, "Johnny Ringo" (CBS); also producer and writer
1960:
Produced first feature, "Guns of the Timberland"; also scripted
1961:
Produced the episode of "The Dick Powell Show" that introduced the character of Amos Burke
:
Executive produced "The Lloyd Bridges Show" (CBS)
1963:
Served as producer of the ABC series "Burke's Law" and its 1965-1966 revamp "Amos Burke, Secret Agent"
:
Worked as one of the directors on the sitcom, "The Smothers Brothers Show" (CBS)
:
Operated (with Danny Thomas) Thomas-Spelling Productions; produced such shows as "The Danny Thomas Hour" (NBC, 1967-1968), "The Guns of Will Sonnett" (ABC, 1967-1969) and "The Mod Squad" (ABC, 1968-1973)
1969:
TV-movie producing debut "The Ballad of Andy Crocker" (ABC)
1970:
Received first Emmy nomination for "Mod Squad" (ABC)
1971:
Produced over 10 made-for-TV movies for ABC
:
With Leonard Goldberg, formed and served as co-president of Spelling-Goldberg Productions
:
Served as a contributing writer to the ABC police drama "The Rookies"; also was one of the executive producers
:
With Goldberg, executive produced the hit ABC cop drama "Starsky and Hutch"
:
Had a hit with the ABC police drama "S.W.A.T."
:
Received three Emmy nominations for the drama series "Family" (ABC)
:
Served as one of the executive producers of "Charlie's Angels"; reteamed with "Rookies" star Kate Jackson
1976:
Executive produced the acclaimed TV-movie "The Boy in the Plastic Bubble" (ABC), starring John Travolta
:
Served as president of Aaron Spelling Productions, Inc., Los Angeles
:
With Douglas S Cramer, executive produced the long-running anthology series "The Love Boat" (ABC)
:
Had success with Cramer as executive producers of "Fantasy Island" (ABC)
:
Retemed with Goldberg as executive producer of the genial detective series "Hart to Hart", co-starring Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers
1979:
With Danny Thomas, was executive producer of the ABC TV-movie "The Return of the Mod Squad"
:
Moved into the genre of primetime soaps with "Dynasty"; one of four executive producers
1981:
With Cramer, was executive producer of the ABC TV-movie about anorexia "The Best Little Girl in the World", starring Jennifer Jason Leigh
1982:
Received Emmy nomination for "Dynasty"
:
Served as an executive producer on "T.J. Hooker"
1983:
Had big screen hit with "Mr. Mom"
:
Had another success with the anthology "Hotel" (ABC)
:
Rose to chairman and chief executive officer Aaron Spelling Productions, Inc.; took his company public in 1986
1986:
First venture into the miniseries genre "Crossings" (CBS)
1986:
Executive produced a series of "Love Boat" TV-movies
1988:
Merged company with Worldvision Enterprises into Spelling Inc.; named chairman of Spelling Inc.
1989:
Won Emmy for the three-hour drama about the atom bomb, "Day One"; aired on CBS
:
Scored a hit with "Beverly Hills, 90210" (Fox); daughter Tori featured as one of the regulars; son Randy had recurring role
1991:
Revisited another of his successes with the miniseries "Dynasty: The Reunion" (ABC)
1991:
Last feature credit for eight years, "Soapdish"
:
Fox's "Melrose Place" also proved to be a hit
1992:
Stumbled with "2000 Malibu Road", a CBS series co-executive produced with Joel Schumacher
:
Formed Torand Productions Inc.
1993:
With E Duke Vincent, served as executive producer of the acclaimed Emmy-winning HBO movie about the AIDS crisis "And the Band Played On"
:
Remake of "Burke's Law" aired on CBS
1994:
Oversaw the syndicated efforts "Heaven Help Us" and "Robin's Hoods"
:
Ran into a spate of bad luck with "Models Inc." (Fox), "Madman of the People" (NBC) and "Winnetka Road" (NBC)
1996:
Was one of the executive producers of the CBS miniseries "A Season in Purgatory"
:
Attempted to translate his primetime sopa opera success to the fledling The WB with "Savannah"
1996:
Served as one of the executive producers of "Malibu Shores", a short-lived NBC serial featuring son Randy
1996:
Had surprise success with the family drama "7th Heaven" on The WB
:
Ventured into daytime television with the NBC soap opera "Sunset Beach"; son Randy was featured in a regular role
1998:
Honored by ABC with "An All Star Party For Aaron Spelling"
:
Revived "The Love Boat" for UPN
1998:
Created the WB series "Charmed" reuniting him with "90210" star Shannen Doherty; Doherty left the show in 2001
1999:
Served as an executive producer of the feature version of "The Mod Squad"; last project under the film production arm of Spelling Entertainment
2000:
Produced the NBC fall primetime serial "Titans"
2004:
Executive produced the short-lived WB drama "Summerland"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Sorbonne, University of Paris: - 1945 - 1946
Southern Methodist University: Dallas , Texas - 1949

Notes

Although many sources list his birth year as 1928, those that say 1923 are probably correct. A 1928 birthday would have made him a 14-year-old war correspondent during World War II.

Spelling successfully underwent treatment for a throat lesion in summer 2001.

Spelling received a tribute at the 1991 People's Choice Awards (aired on March 17, 1992) citing his "innate sense of the public taste."

Spelling's very occasional feature film productions have included "Baby Blue Marine" (1975), "Mr. Mom" (1983), "'night, Mother" (1986), "Surrender" (1987), "Loose Cannons" (1989) and "Soapdish" (1991).

Reflecting on the premise of one his most popular TV series, "Charlie's Angels", Spelling mused: "We thought it was great camp--how can you really believe there were three young private detectives making $500 a week, wearing $10,000 Nolan Miller wardrobes and working for a man who was just a voice on the telephone?"

"I just got tired of the critics saying that I was the master of schlock. It didn't bother me until my kids began growing up and reading it. Well, I'm proud of those entertainment shows they call schlock." --Quoted in The New York Times, October 14, 1991.

"I came [to L.A. in 1953] from Dallas driving an old Plymouth. I had to eventually trade down--I got $150 in cash so I could live. [Now worth an estimated $235 million, Spelling is building a 57,000-square-foot house in Beverly Hills.] I have a recurring dream, my wife can vouch for this. I dream that I wake up and I'm back on Browder Street in Dallas, and none of this has ever really happened. Maybe that's why I'm so thin, because I sweat a lot, but that is my dream. That it's all a fantasy."

He was decorated with a Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster.

Honored with the NAACP Image Award at least six times (begining in 1970), a record unmatched by any other Hollywood producer

He was named Man of the Year by the Publicists Guild of America in 1971.

He was named Man of the Year by the B'nai B'rith Beverly Hills Chapter (1972 and 1985).

Named Humanitarian of the Year in 1983

In 1988, Spelling received the Winston Churchill Medal of Wisdom, a private humanitarian award previously given to Dwight Eisenhower, Gregory Peck and Bob Hope.

Honored with the Scopus Award by the American Friends of Hebrew University (Jerusalem) in 1993

Inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Hall of Fame in 1996

"Nowadays, people always say, how come he's doing such young shows? But they never mention 'The Mod Squad'. I was very proud of that show. It's the first time an African-American guy kissed a white girl, and they said, we'll lose our sponsors, and I said, well I'm not cutting it or I'll leave the show. What did I care? I wasn't married. I didn't have children then. And you know what? We didn't get a single letter, not a single sponsor dropped out, 'cause they realised it was not a sexual kiss but a friendship kiss. And I should say that in the show's five years, [the characters] never carried a gun or fired a gun." --Aaron Spelling quoted in Us, December 1996.

"I kind of got kicked out of Texas. I directed a play for a black high school while I was going to SMU, and [as a result] my father was fired from Sears. My sister went to see the people at Sears and said, 'If Aaron left town and he was never to return, would they hire [my father] back?' He was a good tailor, and they did. I was anxious to leave anyway." --Spelling quoted in Soap Opera Digest, October 7, 1997.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Carolyn Jones. Actor. Married in 1953; divorced in 1965; died of cancer on August 3, 1983; perhaps best recalled as Morticia on the ABC series "The Addams Family".
wife:
Candy Spelling. Born on September 20, 1945; married on November 23, 1968; mother of Tori and Randy.

Family close complete family listing

father:
David Spelling. Tailor. Worked for Sears.
mother:
Pearl Spelling.
brother:
Sam Spelling.
brother:
Max Spelling.
sister:
Becky Spelling.
brother:
Daniel Spelling.
daughter:
Victoria Davey Spelling. Actor. Born on May 16, 1973; co-star of father's "Beverly Hills, 90210"; claimed to have auditioned for the show without her father's knowledge; supposedly nicknamed 'Tori' at suggestion of Barbara Stanwyck.
son:
Randall Gene Spelling. Actor. Born on October 9, 1976; made TV acting debut in NBC pilot "Malibu Shores" (1995) produced by his father; later appeared on father's soap "Sunset Beach".
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Aaron Spelling: A Prime-Time Life" St. Martin's Press

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