Aaron Spelling

Aaron Spelling (April 22, 1923 – June 23, 2006) was an American film and television producer. Some of his works include the TV programs Family (1976-1980), Charlie's Angels (1976–81), The Love Boat (1977–86), Hart to Hart (1979–84), Dynasty (1981–89), Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990–2000), 7th Heaven (1996–2007), and Charmed (1998–2006). He also served as producer of Mod Squad (1968–73), The Rookies (1972–76), and Sunset Beach (1997–99).

Aaron Spelling
Spelling in 1965
Born(1923-04-22)April 22, 1923
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
DiedJune 23, 2006(2006-06-23) (aged 83)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Resting placeHillside Memorial Park Cemetery
Alma materSouthern Methodist University
  • Actor
  • singer
  • dancer
  • television producer
  • writer

Through his eponymous production company Spelling Television, Spelling holds the record as the most prolific television writer and producer in US television history, with 218 producer and executive producer credits.[1][2] Forbes ranked him the 11th top-earning deceased celebrity in 2009.[3]

Personal life

Spelling was born in Dallas, Texas. He was the son of Pearl (née Wald) and David Spelling, Russian Jewish immigrants.[4] His father worked as a tailor and changed his surname from Spurling to Spelling after emigrating to the United States.[5] Spelling had three brothers: Sam, Max, and Daniel, and a sister, Becky.[6]

At the age of eight, Spelling psychosomatically lost the use of his legs due to trauma caused by constant anti-semitic bullying from his schoolmates, and was confined to bed for a year. He made a full recovery.[7]

After attending Forest Avenue High School in Dallas, he served in the United States Army Air Corps as a pilot during World War II.

Spelling later graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1949, where he was a cheerleader.[8]

He married actress Carolyn Jones in 1953, in California. They divorced in 1964.[9] Spelling married Candy Gene (née Marer) in 1968. The couple had daughter Tori in 1973 and son Randy in 1978.[10]

In 1988, Spelling bought the 6-acre (2.4 ha) property of Bing Crosby's former Los Angeles house.[11] He demolished the property and built a 123-room home on the lot in 1991. Known as "The Manor", it has 56,500 square feet (5,250 m2) of floor space and is the largest single-family home in Los Angeles.[12][13] Spelling's widow Candy listed the home for sale in 2008 for $150 million.[13] Heiress Petra Ecclestone ultimately purchased the property for $85 million in 2011 through a brokered agreement that was developed by Brandon Davis, the brother of Jason Davis and grandson of wealthy industrialist, Marvin Davis.[14][15][16]


Spelling made his first appearance as an actor in a film as Harry Williams in Vicki, directed by Harry Horner, in 1953. That same year, he appeared in the TV series I Led Three Lives and Dragnet (six episodes, 1953–55).[17] Spelling appeared in an episode of I Love Lucy ("Tennessee Bound", 1955)[17] and Alfred Hitchcock Presents ("Breakdown", 1955).[17] He continued to appear in films and TV (often uncredited) over 25 times by 1957, appearing briefly as an actor in 1963, 1995, and 1998 (all uncredited.)[18]

Spelling sold his first script to Jane Wyman Presents in 1954. He guest-starred that same year as a dogcatcher in the premiere episode of the CBS situation comedy, Willy, starring June Havoc as a young lawyer in New Hampshire, who later relocates to New York City to represent a vaudeville troupe.[19] Two years later, Spelling gained experience as a producer and additional credits as a script writer working on the Four Star television series Zane Grey Theater, which aired between 1956 and 1961. Of the 149 episodes in that series, he wrote twenty of the teleplays and produced many others.

Thomas-Spelling Productions was a television production company formed by comedian Danny Thomas and producer Aaron Spelling on April 15, 1966 as a partnership with 24 properties. Thomas continued his existing partnership, T&L Productions, with Sheldon Leonard.[20] The company adapted its name by July 18, 1966 when it announced the financial involvement of ABC with its first show, Range (later Rango), a half-hour comedy western starring Tim Conway[21][22] and its rented space on Desilu Productions' Gower lot. ABC also picked up another show for a pilot, just in an outline treatment, in The Guns of Will Sonnett.[21] Thomas-Spelling Productions' active operations ended with the last season of The Mod Squad in 1972. Spelling formed a new partnership with Leonard Goldberg, Spelling-Goldberg Productions.

Beginning in 1965, Spelling began producing successful television shows including The Mod Squad, The Rookies, Family, Charlie's Angels, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Dynasty, Beverly Hills, 90210 (which starred his daughter Tori), 7th Heaven, Charmed, Jane's House and Sunset Beach.[23] Spelling founded Spelling Entertainment in 1965, alongside partnerships with comedian/actor Danny Thomas (Thomas-Spelling Productions, 1966–1972), and television/film producer Leonard Goldberg (Spelling-Goldberg Productions, 1972–1986)[24] He produced the unsuccessful situation comedy The San Pedro Beach Bums in 1977.

In 2004, Spelling was portrayed in two television movies: Dan Castellaneta portrayed Spelling in Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Charlie's Angels,[25] and Nicholas Hammond portrayed Spelling in television movie Dynasty: The Making of a Guilty Pleasure.[26]

Death and legacy

On September 15, 1978, Spelling was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 6667 Hollywood Blvd. In 1996, he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.

In 1983 he was accorded the NAACP Humanitarian Award for his monetary donation that permitted a 21-year-old's heart transplant operation.[27]

In 2001, Spelling was diagnosed with oral cancer.[28]

On June 23, 2006, Spelling died at The Manor, his estate in Holmby Hills, Los Angeles, from complications of a stroke he suffered five days prior.[29][30] A private funeral was held several days later, and Spelling was entombed in a mausoleum in Culver City's Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery.

On August 27, 2006, Spelling was posthumously honored at the 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards by former employees Joan Collins, Stephen Collins, Heather Locklear, Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith.

On April 4, 2007, it was announced that 7th Heaven's May 13, 2007, episode, the last before the series finale, would be dedicated to Spelling.[31] When 7th Heaven ended its run, it was touted by the network as being Spelling's longest-running series and the longest-running "family drama" in American television history.[32]

See also


  1. Aaron Spelling on IMDb
  2. Idato, Michael (September 19, 2005). "The Great Escape". The Sydney Morning Herald. SMH.com. Archived from the original on January 30, 2009. Retrieved February 25, 2009.
  3. Miller, Matthew (October 27, 2009). "Top-Earning Dead Celebrities". Forbes. Archived from the original on June 13, 2013.
  4. "Spelling, Aaron". Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
  5. "A Look at Tori Spelling's Family Tree". Genealogymagazine.com. Archived from the original on October 19, 2013. Retrieved October 18, 2013.
  6. "AARON SPELLING BIOGRAPHY". Biography Channel. Archived October 25, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  7. "Aaron Spelling biography". NYTimes.com Movies & TV. The New York Times (All Movie Guide and Baseline). Archived from the original on June 26, 2012.
  8. "Aaron Spelling and SMU - News and Communications - SMU". Smu.edu. Archived from the original on October 31, 2013. Retrieved October 18, 2013.
  9. Spelling, Aaron; Graham, Jefferson (1996). A Prime-Time Life: An Autobiography. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 51. ISBN 978-0-312-14268-1.
  10. Aaron Spelling. Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale. 2006.
  11. "Spelling's Widow Fires Back at House Sale Reports". Hollywood.com. Archived from the original on February 20, 2012. Retrieved July 7, 2006.
  12. Brown, Len (June 13, 2011). "UK Heiress Purchases Aaron Spelling Mega Mansion". Archived from the original on October 18, 2013.
  13. Jose, Katharine (July 5, 2006). "Aaron Spelling's Widow Puts Infamous Mansion On Market For $150 Million..." Huffington Post. Archived from the original on July 6, 2006. Retrieved July 5, 2006.
  14. Chung, Juliet; Jackson, Candace (June 14, 2011). "L.A. Mansion for U.K. Heiress". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on October 2, 2013. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
  15. "Brandon Davis Key Person in Spelling Mansion Sale". TMZ. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  16. "Petra Ecclestone, Candy Spelling, Aaron Spelling and the Spelling Mansion". The Daily Beast. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  17. Aaron Spelling - IMDb, acting credits
  18. "Aaron Spelling at IMDb". IMDb.
  19. "First Case". Internet Movie Data Base. Archived from the original on April 3, 2012. Retrieved March 12, 2011.
  20. "Spelling, Thomas join in TV production firm" (PDF). Broadcasting. Broadcasting Publications: 10. April 18, 1966. Retrieved August 23, 2017.
  21. Broadcasting, Dec 12, 1966, pg. 103 "Aaron Spelling -partner with Danny Thomas in Thomas/Spelling Productions and president, Aaron Spelling Productions."
  22. Broadcasting, Jul 18, 1966, pg. 48
  23. "Aaron Spelling Awards". IMDb.
  24. "Aaron Spelling biography". biography.com. Archived November 14, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  25. "Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of "Charlie's Angels"". IMDB.com. Archived from the original on March 26, 2012. Retrieved March 8, 2004.
  26. "Dynasty: The Making of a Guilty Pleasure". Variety. December 28, 2004.
  27. London, Michael (December 6, 1983). "NAACP Confers Image Awards". The Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. p. 66 via Newspapers.com.
  28. "Prime time patriarch". Oralcancerfoundation.org. Archived from the original on September 19, 2013. Retrieved July 11, 2001.
  29. Carter, Bill (June 24, 2006). "Aaron Spelling, Prolific Television Producer, Dies at 83". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 29, 2011. Retrieved June 24, 2006.
  30. "TV innovator Aaron Spelling dies at 83". MSNBC. June 26, 2006.
  31. "7th Heaven: Will Camdens Reunite for Last Episode?". TVSeriesFinale.com. Retrieved April 5, 2007.
  32. "10th Season Pick-Up Earns "7th Heaven" A Place In Television History". Time Warner. Archived from the original on February 16, 2005. Retrieved February 15, 2005.
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