CORRECTED-Prolific TV producer Aaron Spelling dies
Corrects branch of service in paragraph eight
By Dean Goodman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Prolific television producer Aaron
Spelling, whose shows such as “Beverly Hills 90210″ and
“Dynasty” helped shape U.S. prime-time television, died on
Friday, days after suffering a stroke, his publicist said. He
Spokesman Kevin Sasaki said Spelling died at his home in
Los Angeles about 6:25 p.m. local time. He had been
hospitalized briefly after a stroke over the weekend.
Among Spelling’s other television shows were “Fantasy
Island,” “Starsky and Hutch,” “Hart to Hart, “Charlie’s
Angels,” and “Love Boat.” He is survived by his wife, Candy,
daughter Tori Spelling, who starred on ‘Beverly Hills 90210,”
and son Randy Spelling, also an actor.
Spelling, a decorated war veteran, lifted himself out of
poverty to become one of the richest and most powerful men in
Hollywood. The Texas native was listed in the Guinness Book of
Records as the world’s most prolific producer.
For better or worse, few people did more to influence TV
viewers’ habits — and perhaps to shape the international view
of American culture — than Spelling. Although his shows were
created by other people, Spelling was a hands-on producer who
helped craft storylines and character development.
Many of Spelling’s shows offered a glimpse of fabulously
wealthy and photogenic people whose lives were often miserable,
a reminder that the grass is not always greener on the other
side. The same could be said about his own life. Shy and
reclusive, he rarely left his 123-room mansion in the exclusive
Los Angeles suburb of Holmby Hills.
Never shy about his shows’ cultural import, he once dubbed
them “mind candy.” But he also helped bring some significant
works to the small screen, among them the AIDS-themed TV movie
“And the Band Played On” and the dramatic series “Family.”
AARON”S BROADCASTING COMPANY
Born in Dallas, Texas on April 22, 1923, the son of
impoverished Russian and Polish immigrants, Spelling was
taunted during his childhood for his Jewish roots. He served in
the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1942 to 1945, and was honored with
a Bronze Star Medal and a Purple Heart.
He began his Hollywood career in 1953 as an actor, playing
villains and losers in TV Westerns like “Gunsmoke,” an unusual
career choice for a painfully shy and skinny kid.
He quickly decided he was better off behind the camera,
working as a writer and then as a producer. His first major hit
came in 1963 with “Burke’s Law,” which starred Gene Barry as a
millionaire detective. Spelling tapped into the counter-culture
with “The Mod Squad,” an action series about three young
delinquents who become crime-fighters. It ran on ABC from 1968
Soon, Spelling virtually owned primetime at ABC — dubbed
Aaron’s Broadcasting Company. During the 1980s, he was the king
of soaps with “Dynasty,” a rip-off of “Dallas,” which made Joan
Collins a star for her portrayal of the bitchy Alexis.
After a fallow period, Spelling bounced back in 1990 with
“Beverly Hills, 90210,” which followed the travails of
fresh-faced teens in America’s most exclusive zip code. The
show co-starred his daughter, Tori, as the virginal Donna.
“Melrose Place,” which revolved around young adults in a
West Hollywood apartment complex, followed in 1992, making a
star out of villainous vixen Heather Locklear.
Spelling found one of his greatest successes with “7th
Heaven,” about a church minister’s family. It just began its
10th season on the WB Network.