Aaron Spelling Dies at 83
TV mogul Aaron Spelling, whose unparalleled string of hits ran from The Mod Squad in the ’60s to today’s 7th Heaven, died in his mansion near Beverly Hills on Friday. He was 83.
Spelling passed away at 6:25 p.m., his publicist, Kevin Sasaki, tells PEOPLE. The cause of death was complications from the stroke he had suffered June 18.
His wife, Candy, was by his side.
On Wednesday, Spelling’s actress daughter, Tori, 33, told PEOPLE she and her new husband, Dean McDermott, planned to fly home from Canada to be with her father. “Dean and I will be traveling back to Los Angeles to be by my dad’s side,” she said.
The next day, Tori’s brother Randy, 27, addressed rumors of family tensions. “The truth is that we love each other very much,” he said in a statement. “This isn’t Dynasty; this is real life, and we’re dealing with my dad’s medical condition with his best interests at heart, and as a family.”
In his long career, Spelling produced some 200 shows, including Starsky and Hutch, Charlie’s Angels, The Love Boat, Vegas, Hart to Hart, Dynasty, T.J. Hooker, Fantasy Island, Beverly Hills, 90210, Melrose Place and Charmed.
Asked by Time in 2001 if 7th Heaven were his last-ditch bid to avoid going to hell, Spelling replied, “When the concept came up, I had the same question: Why’s a Jewish kid from Texas doing a series about a minister?”
After graduating from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Spelling went to New York to become an actor, and met – and married, in 1953 – actress Carolyn Jones, later famous as Morticia Addams on TV’s The Addams Family.
The couple settled in California and, by the time they divorced in 1964, Spelling had made a name for himself as a TV writer. Among his first business partners was TV star Danny Thomas, and together they launched Spelling’s first hit, The Mod Squad, in 1968.
While most of Spelling’s shows were wildly popular, few could match the frenzy sparked by Charlie’s Angels, which debuted in 1976, popularized the word “jiggle,” made a star of Farrah Fawcett and eventually was aired in some 90 countries, from Sri Lanka to Bangladesh.
“I can’t say this of every show I ever produced, but I loved Charlie’s Angels,” Spelling told PEOPLE in 1988. “It put us over the top and made our company financially secure and incredibly desirable.”
But his imprint on the TV landscape was not his only landmark. In 1983, at a cost of $45 million, Spelling built what is still said to be the largest single-family dwelling in California: a 56,000-sq.-ft. house called the Manor, located in Holmby Hills, just down the block from Hugh Hefner’s Playboy mansion – and the scene of Christmas parties so lavish that Spelling once had the prop department from Dynasty blanket the grounds with genuine snow.
The six-acre estate houses four bars, three kitchens, a theater, a gym, an Olympic-size swimming pool, a doll museum, a separate servants’ wing, a 6,000-sq.-ft. guest house, eight double-car garages, tennis courts, a gazebo, a greenhouse, 12 fountains, six formal gardens and a room just for gift wrapping.
That room is said to be a favorite of Spelling’s second wife, Candy, 60, whom he married in 1968. Both of their children acted in their father’s series: Tori (full name: Victoria Davey Spelling) in 90210 and Randy (Randall Gene Spelling) in Sunset Beach.
Tori told PEOPLE in 1992 that growing up in such a lavish environment made her once declare that “I never wanted anything handed to me.”
I didn’t realize, as I do now, how proud of my dad and his wealth I should be,” she continued.
Funeral arrangements have not been announced.