Aaron Spelling, film & television producer, Died at 83


Aaron Spelling died on June 23, 2006 at the age of 83; he was an American film and television producer.

Born in Dallas, Texas on April 22, 1923, he was the son of Pearl (née Wald) and David Spelling, who were Jewish immigrants from Poland.

His father worked as a tailor and changed his surname from Spurling to Spelling after immigrating to the United States.

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 in two episodes of Dragnet.

Spelling appeared in an episode of I Love Lucy in 1955 (“Tennessee Bound”), and 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 began to achieve considerable experience as a producer and additional credits as a script writer working on the CBS television series Zane Grey Theater, which aired between 1956 and 1961.

Of the 149 episodes in that series, he wrote no fewer than twenty of the teleplays and produced a significant number of others.

Daughter Tori Spelling was a neighbor of Farrah Fawcett for ten years in a condo she rented from her parents. Spelling remains television’s most prolific producer primarily known for escapist entertainment.

Among his many successes are some of television’s most seminal series, including Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place, Starsky and Hutch, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Dynasty, Twin Peaks and 7th Heaven.

He also produced the HBO miniseries And the Band Played On, which won Spelling his first Emmy Award. He won his second for another TV movie, Day One.

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 found work as an actor additionally.

In total he played screen parts in 22 programs (in several shows a few episodes; none of his flagships, perhaps the best known being Gunsmoke) between 1956 and 1997.

During the 1950s, Spelling joined Powell’s Four Star Productions.

After Powell’s death he formed Thomas-Spelling Productions with Danny Thomas.

Their first success was with the television show The Mod Squad. In total he wrote for 14 television productions between 1957 and 1974, including several series with multiple episodes on his credit.

He also began collaboration at this time with associate producer Shelley Hull, who, aside from “The Mod Squad”, had 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 TV Episode of “Wagon Train”.

After 2000, Spelling rarely gave serious interviews, and control of the Spelling Television Company has been directed by his business partner E. Duke Vincent and the company’s president, Jonathan Levin.

In 2001, Spelling was diagnosed with oral cancer. On January 28, 2006, Spelling was sued by his former nurse who seeks unspecified damages for ten claims, including sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation, sexual battery, assault, wrongful termination and intentional infliction of emotional distress.