Spelling in 1965
|Born||April 22, 1923|
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
|Died||June 23, 2006 (aged 83)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery|
|Alma mater||Southern Methodist University|
Aaron Spelling (April 22, 1923 – June 23, 2006) was an American film and television producer. Some of his works include the TV programs 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).
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. Forbes ranked him the 11th top-earning deceased celebrity in 2009.
Spelling was born in Dallas, Texas. He was the son of Pearl (née Wald) and David Spelling, Russian Jewish immigrants. His father worked as a tailor and changed his surname from Spurling to Spelling after emigrating to the United States. Spelling had three brothers: Sam, Max, and Daniel, and a sister, Becky.
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.
In 1988, Spelling bought the 6-acre (2.4 ha) property of Bing Crosby's former Los Angeles house. 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. Spelling's widow Candy listed the home for sale in 2008 for $150 million. 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.
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). Spelling appeared in an episode of I Love Lucy ("Tennessee Bound", 1955) and Alfred Hitchcock Presents ("Breakdown", 1955). 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.)
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. 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. 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 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. 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, 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. 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) 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, and Nicholas Hammond portrayed Spelling in television movie Dynasty: The Making of a Guilty Pleasure.
Death and legacy
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. 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. 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.
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