April 22, 2011
The Texas childhood of AARON SPELLING (1923-2006) was so alienated that he claimed to have developed psychosomatic paralysis due to the taunts of anti-Semitic classmates. Perhaps this sensitivity to social realities animated Spelling’s talent for developing escapist mass entertainment like Starsky & Hutch, S.W.A.T., Fantasy Island, The Mod Squad, The Love Boat, Hart to Hart, T.J. Hooker, Charlie’s Angels, and Beverly Hills 90210. In 1981, Spelling introduced aspirational lifestyle programming via his prime-time soap, Dynasty. The materialistic hedonism exhibited by Alexis Carrington and her minions helped inspire Reagan-era Americans to live large, eating caviar and sipping champagne in designer clothing purchased with credit cards. Not surprisingly, Spelling was not immune to the extravagance encouraged by his own shows. He and his diamond-loving wife, Candy, built a 100-plus room mansion in ritzy Bel Air and threw lavish parties documented by an adoring media; during his final years, Spelling’s TV productions like 90210 and Melrose Place focused primarily on the rich and entitled. Spelling’s schlocky sensibilities dominated American airwaves for most of the 20th century’s final decades and we are only now just waking up to the realities he helped us ignore during those years.
ALSO: read this HiLo Hero item on Tori Spelling.
On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Charles Mingus.
READ MORE about men and women born on the cusp between the New Gods (1914-23) and Postmodernist (1924-33) generations.