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Aaron Spelling Dies At 83 (Read 748 times)
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Aaron Spelling Dies At 83
Jun 25th, 2006 at 1:25am
 
Aaron Spelling dies at age 83
By Bill Keveney, USA TODAY
LOS ANGELES — He was TV's longest-running hitmaker. And it may be fitting that even with the passing of Aaron Spelling, who died Friday at age 83, his legacy — his shows — go on, with one (7th Heaven) still enjoying a long run and many others in syndication.
Spelling died at his mansion in Los Angeles after suffering a stroke on June 18, according to his publicist Kevin Sasaki.
Spelling, whose production credits include Charlie's Angels, The Love Boat and Beverly Hills 90210, scored big with the masses over a five-decade producing career that stretches back to his first 1960s hit, The Mod Squad.
Angels, Love Boat and other shows spawned derision as fluff, while Spelling also showed a penchant for soapy froth going back to Dynasty in the 1970s. In his 70s, when most of his contemporaries were retired, he enjoyed a resurgence with water cooler soaps such as 90210 and Melrose Place, aimed at young adults during the 1990s. His daughter, Tori, starred in 90210.
In an interview at the 2005 TV Land Awards, Spelling both joked about and dismissed the matter of his longevity in a business that is known to think people half his age are too old to connect with the coveted younger audience.
"I have been very, very lucky, because my first show was The Mod Squad . That was, I think, 18,000 years ago," he said. But "I think it's silly to say somebody is too old or too young for this or that."
In an industry where one successful show can make a career, Spelling's resume also includes Fantasy Island, the just-retired Charmed, Hart to Hart and T.J. Hooker. 7th Heaven, WB's most-watched show last season, will return for its 11th season on the new CW.
Although Spelling's name is most often associated with prime-time soap, he also produced series and movies that took on challenging topics, such as The Mod Squad, which touched on Vietnam and drugs, and The Band Played On, an HBO film that focused on AIDS.
"Aaron can read the public mind very well," Mod Squad 's Michael Cole said on the night Spelling was given the Pioneer Award at the 2005 TV Land honors. "He will go against it, (but) he knows when there's stress out there and he'll put on something easy."
Born in Dallas, Spelling graduated from Southern Methodist University and went to Hollywood, first trying his hand as a writer and an actor. After some small movie and TV roles, including guest-starring shots on I Love Lucy and Gunsmoke, Spelling ventured into producing.
With hit series making him a rich man, Spelling and his wife, Candy, drew attention for conspicuous consumption even by Hollywood's extravagant standards. In a move that would have made Dynasty characters proud, the couple bought and tore down what had been Bing Crosby's house and built a 100-plus room mansion in ritzy Bel Air.
In his 80s, Spelling's company was still producing new series, although such short-lived shows as Clubhouse, Summerland and Wanted fell far short of his earlier successes.
Over the years, Spelling's experience in front of the camera apparently proved useful when he went behind it, according to Jaclyn Smith, one of Charlie's Angels.
"He certainly understands talent. He finds the right people for the right part," Smith said at the TV Land Awards. "He's a dream producer. He loves actors. He knows what goes into the work of an actor. Some producers don't."
Not surprisingly, Spelling's shows turned relative unknowns into big stars, including former model Smith and her fellow Angels Farrah Fawcett and Kate Jackson (who started on Spelling's The Rookies). Heather Locklear starred in T.J. Hooker, Dynasty, and Melrose Place, while Desperate Housewives' Marcia Cross gained fame on Melrose Place.
Spelling also knew the audience's appetite for beauty and bikinis. Angels went beyond hit series to national phenomenon, earning the cover of Time largely for its curve quotient.
Spelling said network executives initially didn't want to make the show.
"Everybody said, 'That won't work. That's not today's market.' Like hell it's not today's market," he said with a satisfied smile.
Loni Anderson, a friend who first got to sing and dance on screen in a TV movie he produced, Sizzle, remembered his teasing manner.
"I had auditioned for Charlie's Angels and he said, 'We already have our brunette.' Then I went blonde after that and he said, 'You should have told me you were going to go blonde,' " said Anderson, who played Tori's fictional mother, Kiki Spelling, in VH1's So NoTORIous.
However, Spelling occasionally touched on deeper topics. He produced And the Band Played On at a time when many were reluctant to broach the topic of AIDS. Family and Mod Squad took on difficult social issues.
"You have to take into consideration, the minute you had a black and a white — and throw a blonde girl in between that — you're asking for problems," Cole said, referring to the era when Mod Squad premiered. "There was a lot about Vietnam.
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Re: Aaron Spelling Dies At 83
Reply #1 - Jun 25th, 2006 at 1:25am
 
Conintued.....
There was a lot about drugs. We even did a show about child abuse. No one would touch anything like that at that time."

That approach was still in place with 7th Heaven . Star Stephen Collins said despite the series' reputation, it has dealt with serious issues, such as teenagers cutting themselves and drugs.

"I think we've gotten under the public's skin in a good way. That's Aaron Spelling. He's always woven issues into his shows," Collins said.

For recent hits, Spelling often teamed with a younger producer or writer with a strong idea, such as Brenda Hampton on 7th Heaven and Darren Star on 90210 and Melrose Place. At the TV Land Awards, he was celebrating the 10th season renewal of Heaven, which claims the title of the longest-running family drama. (The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie ran nine years, but Bonanza— featuring an adult family — went 14.)

But new collaborations are only one reason Spelling opted to work into his 80s. Asked why he still made shows, he joked: "I've got to support my wife."
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Re: Aaron Spelling Dies At 83
Reply #2 - Jun 25th, 2006 at 12:50pm
 
rest in peace old buddy.........your work will live on
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