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Aaron Spelling Obituary

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Prime time television impresario Aaron Spelling produced a timeline of hits that captivated audiences spanning the "Mod Squad" counterculture to the Gen-X fans of "Beverly Hills 90210."

Though he left an indelible stamp on American pop culture, he never won the critical acclaim he sought.

Spelling died Friday at his Los Angeles mansion after suffering a stroke on June 18, according to his publicist. He was 83.

"The knocks by the critics bother you," the man behind "Charlie's Angels," "Melrose Place" and "Dynasty" told The Associated Press in a 1986 interview.

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

One of the most prolific TV producers in history, Spelling generated numerous hits, including "Love Boat," "Fantasy Island," "Burke's Law," "Starsky and Hutch," "T.J. Hooker," "Matt Houston," "Hart to Hart" and "Hotel." Most recently he produced "7th Heaven" and "Summerland."

"Aaron was nothing like what most people expected. He was quiet, soft-spoken, gentlemanly, shy, and loved actors, having started as one himself," Stephen Collins, star of "7th Heaven" said in a statement.

He also produced more than 140 television movies. Among the most notable: "Death Sentence" (1974), "The Boy in the Plastic Bubble" (1976) and "The Best Little Girl in the World" (1981).

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 Friday.

Spelling's daughter, "90210" star Tori Spelling, issued a statement Saturday: "I am grateful that I recently had the opportunity to reconcile with my father, and most grateful we had the chance to tell each other we loved one another before he passed away. He was a great man and even better father."

Her father's publicist, Kevin Sasaki, said Tori had not been in touch with her family for the past nine to ten months, but he did not know the reason.

Spelling and his wife, Candy, also had a son, Randy, who appeared in the short-lived "Malibu Shores."

Spelling liked to cite some of his more creditable achievements, like "Family" (1976-80), a drama about a middle-class family, and "The Best Little Girl in the World."

Among his prestige films for TV: "Day One" (1989), about the making of the atomic bomb; "And the Band Played On" (1992), based on Randy Shilts' book about the AIDS crisis.

Spelling had arrived in Hollywood virtually penniless in the early 1950s. By the 1980s, Forbes magazine estimated his wealth at $300 million. He gave his second wife, Candy, a 40-carat diamond ring.

The Spellings' most publicized extravagance was their 56,500-square-foot (5,085-square-meter) French chateau in Holmby Hills. The couple bought the former Bing Crosby estate for $10 million and leveled it and two other houses to the ground. Construction was estimated at $12 million.

Born on April 22, 1923, Spelling grew up in a small house in Dallas "on the wrong side of the tracks," he wrote in his 1996 autobiography. He was the fourth son of immigrant Jews, his father from Poland, mother from Russia.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press

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