Aaron Spelling

Producer / Show Creator / Writer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

Tab

About
About this interview

In his three-hour Archive interview, Producer Aaron Spelling (1923-2006) speaks of his career as an actor, appearing on Dragnet and I Love Lucy, among other shows, before turning to writing and producing. He describes the role of a producer and discusses the creation of such programs as Charlie's Angels, Dynasty, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place. He details his production companies with various business partners - Danny Thomas, Leonard Goldberg and Doug Cramer and reflects on producing the films "And the Band Played On" for HBO and "Mr. Mom" for theatrical release. Spelling also contemplates the future of television and discusses the success of many of his programs in syndication. Henry Colman conducted the interview in two sessions in Los Angeles, CA on November 18 and 24, 1999.

"I think you have to love what you're doing. I'm a big football and baseball fan, but I can't remember the name of the firstbaseman of the Dodgers, but I can tell you that you didn't get that shot or you trimmed that shot of the man at the bar. I don't know. But it's kind of fun to make sure. That's why you have to read these scripts and get an imprint in your mind of what the show is."

Highlights
Aaron Spelling on the catfights on Dynasty
00:22
Aaron Spelling on coming up with the main title sequence of Charlie's Angels
01:12
Aaron Spelling on what made Beverly Hills, 90210  a hit
00:34
Aaron Spelling on the premise of Starsky and Hutch
01:12
Aaron Spelling on the "jiggle TV" label placed upon Charlie's Angels
02:23
Aaron Spelling on the three story format of Love Boat
00:26
Aaron Spelling on "Julie" in his scripts
00:34
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on his love of books as a child; on serving in the Army Air Corps during World War II and why he never flies; on attending college at Southern Methodist University (SMU); on his first impressions of television
11:51
On moving to Los Angeles; on writing plays; on his big break with Preston Sturges and acting on Dragnet and I Love Lucy; on being in movies; on his first gigs as a writer for Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater, Fireside Theatre and Playhouse 90; on what he learned from Dick Powell; on dealing with network interference
16:28

Chapter 2

On doing shows that dealt with important issues; on telling people on 5 sets of JFK's assassination; on writing and producing for June Allyson; on what it takes to be a good producer
16:09
On Four Star Productions; on creating his first dramatic series, Johnny Ringo; on writing and producing Burke's Law  and the show's amazing guest stars; on the Hollywood Blacklist; on co-creating The Smothers Brothers Show; on leaving Four Star Productions
12:51

Chapter 3

On partnering with Danny Thomas in Thomas-Spelling Productions and producing Rango and The Mod Squad; on forming Aaron Spelling Productions
12:39
On the television movies he produced - Over the Hill Gang, And the Band Played On, and The Boy in the Plastic Bubble;  on partnering with Leonard Goldberg for Spelling-Goldberg Productions; on on producing The Rookies, S.W.A.T., and Family
15:23

Chapter 4

On the genesis and production of Starsky and Hutch;  on the creation and cast of Charlie's Angels
13:57
On the genesis and production of Fantasy Island;  on the guest stars on Fantasy Island; on selling Spelling-Goldberg to Columbia Pictures; on the development and casting of Love Boat; on Vega$
14:27

Chapter 5

On producing Hart to Hart  and Dynasty; on Joan Collins joining Dynasty; on Dynasty going off the air
13:25
On T.J. Hooker; on movies he produced - Mr. Mom; on developing Hotel; on taking Aaron Spelling Productions public and the subsequent merger; on producing Life With Lucy  with Lucille Ball
14:34

Chapter 6

On producing Life with Lucy  (contd.); on the end of his association with ABC and doing Nightingales  at NBC; on producing Beverly Hills, 90210; on producing Melrose Place
14:25
On career regrets; on using guest stars in anthologies and dramas; on why TV is so popular; on the future of television; on his family and how he proposed to his wife; on his house
11:45
Shows

7th Heaven

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on discussing issues on 7th Heaven
01:58

And the Band Played On

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on producing the HBO movie And the Band Played On
04:03

Beverly Hills, 90210

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on what made Beverly Hills, 90210  a hit
00:34
Aaron Spelling on his daughter, Tori Spelling, joining the cast of Beverly Hills, 90210
00:58
Aaron Spelling on producing Beverly Hills, 90210
01:54

Boy in the Plastic Bubble, The

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on producing The Boy in the Plastic Bubble
00:26

Burke's Law

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on writing and producing Burke's Law
02:58

Charlie's Angels

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on Charlie's Angels
11:05

Colbys, The

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on spinning of The Colbys from Dynasty
02:19

Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on writing for Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater
08:56
Aaron Spelling on working with Dick Powell
01:22

Dynasty

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on fighting the network to get storylines on Dynasty
01:54
Aaron Spelling on Dynasty
08:36
Aaron Spelling on Dynasty going off the air
00:49

Family

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on producing Family
03:47

Fantasy Island

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on storylines on Fantasy Island
00:52
Aaron Spelling on the development and casting of Fantasy Island
04:28

Fireside Theatre

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on writing for "Jane Wyman Presents" on Fireside Theatre
00:57

Hart to Hart

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on producing Hart to Hart
01:41

Hotel

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on developing Hotel
04:33

I Love Lucy

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on acting in I Love Lucy
00:23

Johnny Ringo

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on creating his first dramatic series, Johnny Ringo
02:16

Life With Lucy

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling  on producing Life With Lucy with Lucille Ball
00:59
Aaron Spelling on his regrets about producing Life With Lucy
01:27

Love Boat, The

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on the development and casting of Love Boat
05:42

Love Boat, The: The Next Wave

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on The Love Boat: The Next Wave
00:27

Melrose Place

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on producing Melrose Place
02:26

Mod Squad, The

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on executive producing The Mod Squad
05:00

Nightingales

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on Brandon Tartikoff of NBC wanting to speak with him about a series commitment
02:33

Over-The-Hill Gang, The

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on producing one of the first TV movies, Over the Hill Gang
01:54

Playhouse 90

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on writing for Playhouse 90
00:28

Rango

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on creating Rango
00:41

Rookies, The

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on producing The Rookies
01:32

S.W.A.T.

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on producing S.W.A.T.
01:21

Smothers Brothers Show, The

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on co-creating his only sitcom, The Smothers Brothers Show
01:46

Starsky and Hutch

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on the genesis and production of Starsky and Hutch
02:17

T.J. Hooker

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on T.J. Hooker
02:59

Vega$

View Show Page
Aaron Spelling on the success of Vega$
01:58
Topics

Censorship / Standards & Practices

View Topic
Aaron Spelling on network interference when writing for Sammy Davis, Jr. on Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater
03:03
Aaron Spelling on fighting the network to get storylines on Dynasty
01:54
Aaron Spelling on creating one of TV's first regular gay characters on Dynasty
01:07

Characters & Catchphrases

View Topic
Aaron Spelling on Joan Collins joining Dynasty
01:41

Diversity in Television

View Topic
Aaron Spelling on believing that you can teach and entertain at the same time
00:31

Emmy Awards

View Topic
Aaron Spelling on winning an Emmy for the HBO movie And the Band Played On
00:45

Historic Events and Social Change

View Topic
Aaron Spelling on hiring the cast of Charlie's Angels
02:06

Hollywood Blacklist

View Topic
Aaron Spelling on the Hollywood Blacklist
01:27

JFK Assassination and Funeral

View Topic
Aaron Spelling on telling people on 5 sets of JFK's assassination
01:55

LGBTQ

View Topic
Aaron Spelling on believing that you can teach and entertain at the same time
00:31
Aaron Spelling on creating one of TV's first regular gay characters on Dynasty
01:07

TV's Golden Age (1940s & '50s)

View Topic
Aaron Spelling on writing for and production of Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater
08:56

Television Industry

View Topic
Aaron Spelling on network interference when writing for Sammy Davis, Jr. on Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater
03:03

Women

View Topic
Aaron Spelling on the scarcity of female writers and directors in the '50s and '60s
00:17
Aaron Spelling on hiring the cast of Charlie's Angels
02:06
Aaron Spelling on the "jiggle TV" label placed upon Charlie's Angels
02:23
Professions

Producers

View Profession
Aaron Spelling on what it takes to be a good producer
04:33
Genres

Classic Anthology Series

View Genre
Aaron Spelling on writing for and production of Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater
08:56

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

View Genre
Aaron Spelling on Charlie's Angels
10:35

Daytime/Primetime Serials

View Genre
Aaron Spelling on Joan Collins joining Dynasty
01:41

Drama Series

View Genre
Aaron Spelling on producing Beverly Hills, 90210
07:43

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

View Genre
Aaron Spelling on producing the HBO movie And the Band Played On
04:03
People

June Allyson

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on writing and producing for June Allyson
01:22
Aaron Spelling on writing and producing for June Allyson
01:01

Lucille Ball

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on producing Life With Lucy with Lucille Ball
00:59
Aaron Spelling on his regrets about producing Life With Lucy
01:27

Gene Barry

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on writing and producing Burke's Law
02:58

Anne Baxter

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on developing Hotel
04:33

Meredith Baxter-Birney

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on Meredith Baxter-Birney starring in Family
00:35

William Blinn

View Interview Page
Aaron Spelling on the genesis and production of Starsky and Hutch
02:17

Charles Boyer

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on starting Four Star Productions
01:32

James Broderick

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on the cast of Family
01:52

James Brolin

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on developing Hotel
00:28

Joan Collins

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on Joan Collins joining Dynasty
01:41

Tim Conway

View Interview Page
Aaron Spelling on creating Rango
00:41

Bob Cooper

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on producing the HBO movie And the Band Played On
04:03

Bette Davis

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on developing Hotel
04:33

Sammy Davis, Jr.

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on network interference when writing for Sammy Davis, Jr. on Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater
03:03

Barry Diller

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on partnering with Leonard Goldberg for Spelling-Goldberg Productions
00:30
Aaron Spelling on hiring the cast of Charlie's Angels
02:06
Aaron Spelling on producing Beverly, Hills 90210  upon Barry Diller's request to do a high school show
00:48

Farrah Fawcett

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on hiring the cast of Charlie's Angels
02:06

John Forsythe

View Interview Page
Aaron Spelling on fighting the network to get storylines on Dynasty
01:54
Aaron Spelling on creating Dynasty
00:54

John Frankenheimer

View Interview Page
Aaron Spelling on writing for Playhouse 90
00:28

James Garner

View Interview Page
Aaron Spelling on meeting James Garner
00:39

Paul Michael Glaser

View Interview Page
Aaron Spelling on the genesis and production of Starsky and Hutch
02:17

Leonard Goldberg

View Interview Page
Aaron Spelling on partnering with Leonard Goldberg for Spelling-Goldberg Productions

Leonard H. Goldenson

View Interview Page
Aaron Spelling on forming Aaron Spelling Productions and getting a deal with ABC
03:06

Fred Grandy

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on the development and casting of Love Boat
00:30

Alex Haley

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on developing Hotel
01:38

Bill Hayes

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on forming Aaron Spelling Productions
03:06

William Holden

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on why he never flies
01:38

Kate Jackson

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on Kate Jackson coming up with the title of Charlie's Angels
02:06

Bernie Kopell

View Interview Page
Aaron Spelling on the development and casting of Love Boat
00:30

Alan Ladd

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on writing a feature, One Foot in Hell, starring Alan Ladd
00:20

Ted Lange

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on the development and casting of Love Boat
00:30

Abe Lastfogel

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on leaving Four Star Productions
01:41

Peggy Lipton

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on casting The Mod Squad
02:10

Heather Locklear

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on creating Dynasty
00:10
Aaron Spelling on T.J. Hooker
00:50
Aaron Spelling on producing Melrose Place
02:26

Alfred Lunt

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on touring with Alfred Lunt
01:31

Ida Lupino

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on starting Four Star Productions
01:32

Gavin MacLeod

View Interview Page
Aaron Spelling on the development and casting of Love Boat
02:46

Martin Manulis

View Interview Page
Aaron Spelling on writing for Playhouse 90
00:28

Kristy McNichol

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on the cast of Family
01:52

Ricardo Montalban

View Interview Page
Aaron Spelling on the development and casting of Fantasy Island
02:39

Mike Nichols

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on Mike Nichols joining the writing/producing staff of Family
01:16

David Niven

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on starting Four Star Productions
01:32

Dick Powell

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on his first big writing job
00:57
Aaron Spelling on writing for and production of Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater
07:59
Aaron Spelling on Dick Powell
03:17
Aaron Spelling on starting Four Star Productions
01:32
Aaron Spelling on creating his first dramatic series, Johnny Ringo
02:16
Aaron Spelling on writing and producing Burke's Law
02:58
Aaron Spelling on leaving Four Star Productions after Dick Powell's death
01:11

Stefanie Powers

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on casting Hart to Hart
01:41

Elton H. Rule

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on forming Aaron Spelling Productions and getting a deal with ABC
03:06

George Schlatter

View Interview Page
Aaron Spelling on meeting George Schlatter
00:34

Connie Sellecca

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on developing Hotel
00:28

Richard Shapiro

View Interview Page
Aaron Spelling on creating Dynasty
00:27

Esther Shapiro

View Interview Page
Aaron Spelling on fighting the network to get storylines on Dynasty
01:54
Aaron Spelling on creating Dynasty
00:54
Aaron Spelling on creating Dynasty
00:27

William Shatner

View Interview Page
Aaron Spelling on T.J. Hooker
01:24

Fred Silverman

View Interview Page
Aaron Spelling on getting Charlie's Angels on the air
02:06

Jaclyn Smith

View Interview Page
Aaron Spelling on hiring the cast of Charlie's Angels
02:06

Tom Smothers

View Interview Page
Aaron Spelling on co-creating his only sitcom, The Smothers Brothers Show
01:46

Dick Smothers

View Interview Page
Aaron Spelling on co-creating his only sitcom, The Smothers Brothers Show
01:46

David Soul

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on the genesis and production of Starsky and Hutch
02:17

Tori Spelling

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on his daughter, Tori Spelling, joining the cast of Beverly Hills, 90210
00:58

Barbara Stanwyck

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on spinning of The Colbys from Dynasty
02:19

Darren Star

View Interview Page
Aaron Spelling on producing Beverly Hills, 90210
00:48
Aaron Spelling on producing Melrose Place
01:14

Brandon Stoddard

View Interview Page
Aaron Spelling on the development and casting of Fantasy Island
03:16

Preston Sturges

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on the moment that changed his life
01:19

Brandon Tartikoff

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on Brandon Tartikoff of NBC wanting to speak with him 
02:33

Lauren Tewes

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on the development and casting of Love Boat
00:30

Danny Thomas

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on leaving Four Star Productions
01:41
Aaron Spelling on partnering with Danny Thomas in Thomas-Spelling Productions
03:16
Aaron Spelling on telling Danny Thomas about The Mod Squad
02:10

Sada Thompson

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on the cast of Family
01:52

John Travolta

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on producing The Boy in the Plastic Bubble
00:26

Lana Turner

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on the 500th guest star of Love Boat
01:21

Herve Villechaize

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on the development and casting of Fantasy Island
00:37

Robert Wagner

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on casting Hart to Hart
01:41

Andy Warhol

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on Andy Warhol being a fan of Love Boat
01:00

Jack Webb

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on meeting Jack Webb and acting on Dragnet
00:45

Orson Welles

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on the network wanting to cast Orson Welles as the lead in Fantasy Island
01:01

Jill Whelan

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on the development and casting of Love Boat
00:30

Jane Wyman

View Person Page
Aaron Spelling on his first big writing job
00:57

All Interviews

Q
S