Sun, Jun 25, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Prolific US TV producer Aaron Spelling dies at 83


Aaron Spelling, a onetime movie bit player who created a massive number of hit series, from the vintage Charlie's Angels and Dynasty to Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place, has died, his publicist said. He was 83.

Spelling died on Friday at his mansion in Los Angeles after suffering a stroke on June 18, according to publicist Kevin Sasaki.

Spelling's other hit series included Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Burke's Law, The Mod Squad, Starsky and Hutch, T.J. Hooker, Matt Houston, Hart to Hart and Hotel. He kept his hand in 21st-century TV with series including 7th Heaven and Summerland.

He also produced more than 140 television movies. Among the most notable: Death Sentence (1974), Nick Nolte's first starring role; The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976), John Travolta's first dramatic role; and The Best Little Girl in the World (1981), which starred Jennifer Jason Leigh.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Spelling provided series and movies exclusively for ABC and is credited for the network's rise to major status. Jokesters referred to it as "The Aaron Broadcasting Company."

"Aaron's contributions in television are unequaled. To me, he was a dear friend and a truly genuine human being," Jaclyn Smith, the only original Charlie's Angels actress who stayed with the show for its entire run, said in a statement on Friday.

Success was not without its thorns. TV critics denounced Spelling for fostering fluff and nighttime soap operas. He called his shows "mind candy;" critics referred to them as "mindless candy."

Charlie's Angels ushered in a genre known as "jiggle TV" for its gratuitous focus on the female form.

"The knocks by the critics bother you," he admitted in a 1986 interview.

"But you have a choice of proving yourself to 300 critics or 30 million fans. You have to make a choice. I think you're also categorized by the critics. If you do something good they almost don't want to like it," he said.

He liked to cite some of his more creditable achievements, like Family (1976-1980), a drama about a middle-class family, and The Best Little Girl in the World.

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