12 July, 2008

Aaron Spelling

Aaron Spelling was an American film and television producer.

Spelling was born in Dallas, Texas, to polish Jewish immigrant parents.

Spelling attended Forest Avenue High School. He served in the U.S. Air Force and was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster. He then attended Southern Methodist University, graduating in 1949. He married actress Carolyn Jones in 1953, and they moved to California. They divorced in 1964. He had two children, Randy Spelling and Tori Spelling.

Spelling sold his first script to Jane Wyman Theater in 1954. He went on to write for Dick Powell, Playhouse 90, and Last Man, amongst others. Later, he also found work as an actor. In total he played screen parts in 22 programs and perhaps the best known being Gunsmoke between 1956 and 1997. During the 1950s, Spelling joined Powell's Four Star Productions.

After Powell's death, Spelling formed Thomas-Spelling Productions with Danny Thomas. Their first success was with the television show The Mod Squad. In total he wrote for fourteen television productions between 1957 and 1974, including several series with multiple episodes to his credit. Spelling and Thomas produced two 1960s series for Walter Brennan: The Tycoon and The Guns of Will Sonnett, both on ABC. He also began collaboration at that time with associate producer Shelley Hull, who, aside from Mod Squad, worked with Spelling on The Rookies and Charlie's Angels. Hull also worked with Spelling in 1976 on the hit ABC movie The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, starring a young John Travolta. Spelling directed only once, on "The Conchita Vasquez Story", a 1959 episode of Wagon Train.

In 1991, Spelling bought the home and six-acre lot of Bing Crosby's former Los Angeles house. He demolished the property, and built a 123-room home for the cost of USD $47,000,000, named "The Manor", which has 56,500 square feet of floor space and is the largest single-family dwelling in Hollywood.

In 1972, he created Spelling Television, and formed another co-production company with Leonard Goldberg. Spelling took his own company public in 1986 as Spelling Entertainment. Spelling also produced the NBC daytime soap opera Sunset Beach from 1997 to 1999, and in one of his few acting roles since the 1960s, played one of Bette's ex-husbands for one day in 1997.

He also appeared as himself on 27 programs between 1992 and 2005. After 2000, Spelling rarely gave interviews, though he remained active as CEO and continued to give notes on productions, day to day control of the Spelling Television Company was handled by his longtime producing and business partner E. Duke Vincent and company president, Jonathan Levin.

Spelling worked in some capacity on almost 200 productions beginning with the Zane Grey Theatre in 1956. His most recognizable contributions to television include Charlie's Angels, Dynasty, Starsky and Hutch, Family, Hotel, The Rookies, Beverly Hills 90210 and its adult spin-off Melrose Place, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Vega$, Hart to Hart, The Colby’s, T.J. Hooker, Nightingales, Kindred: The Embraced, 7th Heaven, Charmed, Burke's Law, Honey West, The Mod Squad, and S.W.A.T.. His company also co-produced the David Lynch series Twin Peaks.

He also produced the HBO miniseries And the Band Played On, based on Randy Shilts's bestseller. The miniseries won an Emmy Award, Spelling's first.

In 2001, Spelling was diagnosed with oral cancer.

On June 18, 2006, Spelling suffered a severe stroke at his estate in Holmby Hills, Los Angeles, California. He died there on June 23, 2006, from complications of the stroke, at the age of 83. A private funeral was held several days later, and Spelling was interred in a mausoleum in Hillside Memorial Park in Culver City, California.

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