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The godfather of '80s television



Aaron_spelling_2 This afternoon, the role of the Stuck in the 80s blogger will be played by Jane:

Cocktails and dreams everyone! Spunky Stuck in the '80s cub reporter Jane here, filling in for Mr. Spears, who is up to the top of his handsome head in packing material and moving boxes, furiously searching for the one with the towels in it, so he can finally take a shower. Dude, it's got to be there somewhere -- good luck!

Today we're celebrating the birthday of one of the seminal figures in television: the late Mr. Aaron Spelling, born April 22, 1923. (Alas, Spelling passed away in 2006. No word on whether the sea-plane sprinkled his ashes over a waving Mr. Roarke and Tattoo.)

Known now more as the father of media gadfly Tori and the godfather of "Beverly Hills 90210" and "Melrose Place," Spelling was first and foremost a man of the '80s. You couldn't turn on the tube in those days without encountering one of his programs on the screen. I should know -- I watched most of them.

From the one-two punch of "The Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island" on Saturday evenings, which I would tune in to before getting ready to go out to some late-night college party; to the original must-see TV of "Dynasty" on Wednesday nights; to the charming Nick-and-Nora throwback sleuths Jonathan and Jennifer Hart.

I did draw the line at watching some Spelling shows. He was also responsible for "Life with Lucy" -- the awful sitcom that served as Lucille Ball's last staring role. Nobody's perfect.

So grab a glass of champagne from Isaac, our friendly "Love Boat" bartender, and let's toast to ...


5. THE CATCH PHRASES: He provided us with "Da plane! Da plane!" ..  "Smiles, everyone, smiles" and "Love, exciting and new..."  True confession: I have Jack Jones crooning the "Love Boat" theme on my iPod. Shut. Up.

4. THE ULTIMATE 80s BABE: He signed not one, but two paychecks for Heather Locklear (T.J. Hooker and Dynasty), thus garnering the eternal gratitude of men young and old everywhere.

3. THE FASHION: He was single handedly responsible for the popularity of shoulder pads, huge jewelry pieces and shellacked, sky-high coiffures, thanks to the fashion-consciousness of "Dynasty" and its spin-off, "The Colbys." Admit it, you yourself sported one or all of these looks or dated someone who did.  This was the fashion of the day, and we were all slaves to it.

2. KIRK, YOU'RE STILL ALIVE, MY OLD FRIEND: He gave William "T.J. Hooker" Shatner and his hairpiece something to do during the '80s other than attending Star Trek conventions.

1. THE GUEST STARS: He kept half of Hollywood employed via the enormous amount of guest star opportunities on his shows. When those opening credits rolled for "The Love Boat" or "Hotel" or "Fantasy Island," you never knew whose name would pop up: Andy Warhol, Shirley Jones, John Ritter, Roddy McDowell, Carolyn Jones (who was married to Spelling in the '60s), Sonny Bono, Ethel Merman, Charo. The Screen Actors Guild must have loved this guy. As did the Retired Actors Home.

Here's to you, Mr. Spelling. Thanks for the memories.

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 2:32pm]


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