Spelling served in the Army during World War II, and after returning home eventually headed to Hollywood where he worked briefly as an actor, playing bit parts on TV and in films like Three Young Texans and Wyoming Renegades. Shortly thereafter he began writing for television. Hired by friend and mentor Dick Powell to write for Zane Grey Theater, Spelling eventually became a producer on the show and, in 1959, branched off on his own for the first time with the short-lived Johnny Ringo.
Spelling's greatest success came in the 1970s and 80s, when he produced series such as The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Starsky and Hutch, T.J. Hooker, Hart to Hart, Dynasty, and Charlie's Angels. That list amounts to about 5% of his total output, which runs to over 200 television shows and movies (including the much-loved The Boy in the Bubble); at one time, Spelling was personally responsible for fully 1/3 of ABC's prime time programming.