Saturday, June 24, 2006

Aaron Spelling - 1923-2006

What can you say about Aaron Spelling, who passed away on Friday at the age of 83 following a stroke. Although he had a number of credits as an actor - mostly bit parts but he did do six episodes of Dragnet in the 1950s - and as a writer, it is as a producer and executive producer that he's probably best known. While he's probably best remembered for shows like Dynasty, Beverly Hills 90210 (which starred his daughter Tori Spelling - but we won't hold that against him) and Charlie's Angels, the fact is that an examination of his credits as a producer stretch back all the way into the 1950s and include just about every kind of show that you can imagine. He did anthologies, westerns, detective shows, cop shows, and night time soaps, as well as some shows that simply defy description. He first worked for actor Dick Powell's company Four Star Productions then became a partner with actor-singer Danny Thomas in Thomas-Spelling Productions before creating his own company Aaron Spelling Productions (later Aaron Spelling Entertainment) in 1972. He produced Lucille Ball's unfortunate last series Life With Lucy which is ironic in a way because back in the 1950s one of Spelling's bit parts was as a gas station attendant in Tennesee on an episode of I Love Lucy. He made movies, mainly for TV but he was also the executive producer on a couple of pretty good theatrical film called California Split (directed by Robert Altman) and Mr. Mom. Not everything he did was a hit - far from it - but his batting average was pretty good and when he had a hit it was big. Among the series he provided for The WB (just as an example) were Savannah (an early hit for the network although it didn't last long) Charmed, and 7th Heaven, a series which Spelling described as his personal favourite of all the series he worked on.

I debated whether or not to list all of the TV series that Spelling was credited as Producer or Executive Producer on. I couldn't included everything he produced since he's credited with over 200 separate productions - the most prolific TV producer ever. Instead I decided to only include highlights. It's still a long list.
  • Zane Grey Theater,

  • Burke's Law

  • Honey West

  • Daniel Boone

  • The Guns of Will Sonnett

  • The Mod Squad

  • The Rookies

  • Starsky and Hutch

  • S.W.A.T.

  • Vega$

  • Fantasy Island

  • The Love Boat

  • Charlie'sAngels

  • Family

  • Hart to Hart

  • Dynasty

  • Hotel

  • Melrose Place

  • Beverly Hills90210

  • 7th Heaven

  • Kindred: The Embraced

  • Savannah

  • Buddy Faro

  • Charmed

  • Clubhouse
In an industry where the phrase "industry giant" is used as commonly as balloons at political conventions, Aaron Spelling truly deserved that description.

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