Charlie’s Angels—our first title was Alley Cats—was turned down by ABC when we first submitted it. It was only when Fred Silverman came to ABC, he asked Leonard Goldberg and I up for a meeting and said, “That thing you have about those three girls, would you like to develop it?” Nobody expected it to be a big hit. It didn’t test well. Then it went on, and the audiences loved it, and the critics began to pick on it. They said there was no reality to it, but we always knew that. We thought it was great camp—how can you really believe there were three young private detectives making $500 a week, wearing $10,000 Nolan Miller wardrobes and working for a man who was just a voice on the telephone? Female critics thought we were exploiting women, but you really can’t have it both ways—scream that there’s not enough women in TV, and when you put them on say, “Well, what we really want to do is show them as brain surgeons or running for President.” We could never figure what the griping was about. Was it because we were the first show with three beautiful girls? I don’t know too many men on TV that are unattractive. Was it because they were in bathing suits? When my kids go to the beach, they see more in one day than anybody saw in the series. Those string bikinis, wow! And in the whole five years of the show, none of the characters ever had an affair. Charlie’s Angels was Puritan, absolutely Puritan.
I came [to L.A. in 1953] from Dallas driving an old Plymouth. I had to eventually trade down—I got $150 in cash so I could live. [Now worth an estimated $235 million, Spelling is building a 57,000-square-foot house in Beverly Hills.] I have a recurring dream, my wife can vouch for this. I dream that I wake up and I’m back on Browder Street in Dallas, and none of this has ever really happened. Maybe that’s why I’m so thin, because I sweat a lot, but that is my dream. That it’s all a fantasy.