Aaron Spelling

Producer / Show Creator / Writer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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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."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Aaron Spelling on the catfights on Dynasty
Aaron Spelling on coming up with the main title sequence of Charlie's Angels
Aaron Spelling on what made Beverly Hills, 90210  a hit
Aaron Spelling on the premise of Starsky and Hutch
Aaron Spelling on the "jiggle TV" label placed upon Charlie's Angels
Aaron Spelling on the three story format of Love Boat
Aaron Spelling on "Julie" in his scripts
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
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

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
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

Chapter 3

On partnering with Danny Thomas in Thomas-Spelling Productions and producing Rango and The Mod Squad; on forming Aaron Spelling Productions
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

Chapter 4

On the genesis and production of Starsky and Hutch;  on the creation and cast of Charlie's Angels
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$

Chapter 5

On producing Hart to Hart  and Dynasty; on Joan Collins joining Dynasty; on Dynasty going off the air
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

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
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
Shows

7th Heaven

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Aaron Spelling on discussing issues on 7th Heaven

And the Band Played On

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Aaron Spelling on producing the HBO movie And the Band Played On

Beverly Hills, 90210

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Aaron Spelling on what made Beverly Hills, 90210  a hit
Aaron Spelling on his daughter, Tori Spelling, joining the cast of Beverly Hills, 90210
Aaron Spelling on producing Beverly Hills, 90210

Boy in the Plastic Bubble, The

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Aaron Spelling on producing The Boy in the Plastic Bubble

Burke's Law

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Aaron Spelling on writing and producing Burke's Law

Charlie's Angels

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Aaron Spelling on Charlie's Angels

Colbys, The

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Aaron Spelling on spinning of The Colbys from Dynasty

Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre

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Aaron Spelling on writing for Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater
Aaron Spelling on working with Dick Powell

Dynasty

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Aaron Spelling on fighting the network to get storylines on Dynasty
Aaron Spelling on Dynasty
Aaron Spelling on Dynasty going off the air

Family

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Aaron Spelling on producing Family

Fantasy Island

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Aaron Spelling on storylines on Fantasy Island
Aaron Spelling on the development and casting of Fantasy Island

Fireside Theatre

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Aaron Spelling on writing for "Jane Wyman Presents" on Fireside Theatre

Hart to Hart

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Aaron Spelling on producing Hart to Hart

Hotel

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Aaron Spelling on developing Hotel

I Love Lucy

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Aaron Spelling on acting in I Love Lucy

Johnny Ringo

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Aaron Spelling on creating his first dramatic series, Johnny Ringo

Life With Lucy

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Aaron Spelling  on producing Life With Lucy with Lucille Ball
Aaron Spelling on his regrets about producing Life With Lucy

Love Boat, The

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Aaron Spelling on the development and casting of Love Boat

Love Boat, The: The Next Wave

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Aaron Spelling on The Love Boat: The Next Wave

Melrose Place

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Aaron Spelling on producing Melrose Place

Mod Squad, The

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Aaron Spelling on executive producing The Mod Squad

Nightingales

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Aaron Spelling on Brandon Tartikoff of NBC wanting to speak with him about a series commitment

Over-The-Hill Gang, The

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Aaron Spelling on producing one of the first TV movies, Over the Hill Gang

Playhouse 90

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Aaron Spelling on writing for Playhouse 90

Rango

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Aaron Spelling on creating Rango

Rookies, The

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Aaron Spelling on producing The Rookies

S.W.A.T.

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Aaron Spelling on producing S.W.A.T.

Smothers Brothers Show, The

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Aaron Spelling on co-creating his only sitcom, The Smothers Brothers Show

Starsky and Hutch

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Aaron Spelling on the genesis and production of Starsky and Hutch

T.J. Hooker

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Aaron Spelling on T.J. Hooker

Vega$

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Aaron Spelling on the success of Vega$
Topics

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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

Characters & Catchphrases

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Aaron Spelling on Joan Collins joining Dynasty

Diversity in Television

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Aaron Spelling on believing that you can teach and entertain at the same time

Emmy Awards

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Aaron Spelling on winning an Emmy for the HBO movie And the Band Played On

Historic Events and Social Change

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Aaron Spelling on hiring the cast of Charlie's Angels

Hollywood Blacklist

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Aaron Spelling on the Hollywood Blacklist

JFK Assassination and Funeral

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Aaron Spelling on telling people on 5 sets of JFK's assassination

LGBTQ

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Aaron Spelling on believing that you can teach and entertain at the same time
Aaron Spelling on creating one of TV's first regular gay characters on Dynasty

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

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Aaron Spelling on writing for and production of Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater

Television Industry

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

Women

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Aaron Spelling on the scarcity of female writers and directors in the '50s and '60s
Aaron Spelling on hiring the cast of Charlie's Angels
Aaron Spelling on the "jiggle TV" label placed upon Charlie's Angels
Professions

Producers

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Aaron Spelling on what it takes to be a good producer
Genres

Classic Anthology Series

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Aaron Spelling on writing for and production of Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

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Aaron Spelling on Charlie's Angels

Daytime/Primetime Serials

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Aaron Spelling on Joan Collins joining Dynasty

Drama Series

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Aaron Spelling on producing Beverly Hills, 90210

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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Aaron Spelling on producing the HBO movie And the Band Played On
People

June Allyson

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Aaron Spelling on writing and producing for June Allyson
Aaron Spelling on writing and producing for June Allyson

Lucille Ball

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Aaron Spelling on producing Life With Lucy with Lucille Ball
Aaron Spelling on his regrets about producing Life With Lucy

Gene Barry

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Aaron Spelling on writing and producing Burke's Law

Anne Baxter

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Aaron Spelling on developing Hotel

Meredith Baxter-Birney

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Aaron Spelling on Meredith Baxter-Birney starring in Family

William Blinn

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Aaron Spelling on the genesis and production of Starsky and Hutch

Charles Boyer

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Aaron Spelling on starting Four Star Productions

James Broderick

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Aaron Spelling on the cast of Family

James Brolin

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Aaron Spelling on developing Hotel

Joan Collins

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Aaron Spelling on Joan Collins joining Dynasty

Tim Conway

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Aaron Spelling on creating Rango

Bob Cooper

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Aaron Spelling on producing the HBO movie And the Band Played On

Bette Davis

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Aaron Spelling on developing Hotel

Sammy Davis, Jr.

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

Barry Diller

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Aaron Spelling on partnering with Leonard Goldberg for Spelling-Goldberg Productions
Aaron Spelling on hiring the cast of Charlie's Angels
Aaron Spelling on producing Beverly, Hills 90210  upon Barry Diller's request to do a high school show

Farrah Fawcett

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Aaron Spelling on hiring the cast of Charlie's Angels

John Forsythe

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Aaron Spelling on fighting the network to get storylines on Dynasty
Aaron Spelling on creating Dynasty

John Frankenheimer

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Aaron Spelling on writing for Playhouse 90

James Garner

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Aaron Spelling on meeting James Garner

Paul Michael Glaser

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Aaron Spelling on the genesis and production of Starsky and Hutch

Leonard Goldberg

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Aaron Spelling on partnering with Leonard Goldberg for Spelling-Goldberg Productions

Leonard H. Goldenson

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Aaron Spelling on forming Aaron Spelling Productions and getting a deal with ABC

Fred Grandy

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Aaron Spelling on the development and casting of Love Boat

Alex Haley

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Aaron Spelling on developing Hotel

Bill Hayes

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Aaron Spelling on forming Aaron Spelling Productions

William Holden

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Aaron Spelling on why he never flies

Kate Jackson

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Aaron Spelling on Kate Jackson coming up with the title of Charlie's Angels

Bernie Kopell

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Aaron Spelling on the development and casting of Love Boat

Alan Ladd

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Aaron Spelling on writing a feature, One Foot in Hell, starring Alan Ladd

Ted Lange

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Aaron Spelling on the development and casting of Love Boat

Abe Lastfogel

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Aaron Spelling on leaving Four Star Productions

Peggy Lipton

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Aaron Spelling on casting The Mod Squad

Heather Locklear

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Aaron Spelling on creating Dynasty
Aaron Spelling on T.J. Hooker
Aaron Spelling on producing Melrose Place

Alfred Lunt

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Aaron Spelling on touring with Alfred Lunt

Ida Lupino

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Aaron Spelling on starting Four Star Productions

Gavin MacLeod

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Aaron Spelling on the development and casting of Love Boat

Martin Manulis

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Aaron Spelling on writing for Playhouse 90

Kristy McNichol

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Aaron Spelling on the cast of Family

Ricardo Montalban

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Aaron Spelling on the development and casting of Fantasy Island

Mike Nichols

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Aaron Spelling on Mike Nichols joining the writing/producing staff of Family

David Niven

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Aaron Spelling on starting Four Star Productions

Dick Powell

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Aaron Spelling on his first big writing job
Aaron Spelling on writing for and production of Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater
Aaron Spelling on Dick Powell
Aaron Spelling on starting Four Star Productions
Aaron Spelling on creating his first dramatic series, Johnny Ringo
Aaron Spelling on writing and producing Burke's Law
Aaron Spelling on leaving Four Star Productions after Dick Powell's death

Stefanie Powers

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Aaron Spelling on casting Hart to Hart

Elton H. Rule

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Aaron Spelling on forming Aaron Spelling Productions and getting a deal with ABC

George Schlatter

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Aaron Spelling on meeting George Schlatter

Connie Sellecca

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Aaron Spelling on developing Hotel

Richard Shapiro

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Aaron Spelling on creating Dynasty

Esther Shapiro

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Aaron Spelling on fighting the network to get storylines on Dynasty
Aaron Spelling on creating Dynasty
Aaron Spelling on creating Dynasty

William Shatner

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Aaron Spelling on T.J. Hooker

Fred Silverman

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Aaron Spelling on getting Charlie's Angels on the air

Jaclyn Smith

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Aaron Spelling on hiring the cast of Charlie's Angels

Tom Smothers

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Aaron Spelling on co-creating his only sitcom, The Smothers Brothers Show

Dick Smothers

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Aaron Spelling on co-creating his only sitcom, The Smothers Brothers Show

David Soul

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Aaron Spelling on the genesis and production of Starsky and Hutch

Tori Spelling

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Aaron Spelling on his daughter, Tori Spelling, joining the cast of Beverly Hills, 90210

Barbara Stanwyck

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Aaron Spelling on spinning of The Colbys from Dynasty

Darren Star

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Aaron Spelling on producing Beverly Hills, 90210
Aaron Spelling on producing Melrose Place

Brandon Stoddard

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Aaron Spelling on the development and casting of Fantasy Island

Preston Sturges

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Aaron Spelling on the moment that changed his life

Brandon Tartikoff

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Aaron Spelling on Brandon Tartikoff of NBC wanting to speak with him 

Lauren Tewes

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Aaron Spelling on the development and casting of Love Boat

Danny Thomas

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Aaron Spelling on leaving Four Star Productions
Aaron Spelling on partnering with Danny Thomas in Thomas-Spelling Productions
Aaron Spelling on telling Danny Thomas about The Mod Squad

Sada Thompson

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Aaron Spelling on the cast of Family

John Travolta

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Aaron Spelling on producing The Boy in the Plastic Bubble

Lana Turner

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Aaron Spelling on the 500th guest star of Love Boat

Herve Villechaize

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Aaron Spelling on the development and casting of Fantasy Island

Robert Wagner

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Aaron Spelling on casting Hart to Hart

Andy Warhol

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Aaron Spelling on Andy Warhol being a fan of Love Boat

Jack Webb

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Aaron Spelling on meeting Jack Webb and acting on Dragnet

Orson Welles

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Aaron Spelling on the network wanting to cast Orson Welles as the lead in Fantasy Island

Jill Whelan

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Aaron Spelling on the development and casting of Love Boat

Jane Wyman

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Aaron Spelling on his first big writing job

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