Authors: Candy Spelling
Turner Publishing Company / Wiley General Trade
424 Church Street • Suite 2240 • Nashville, Tennessee 37219
445 Park Avenue • 9th Floor • New York, New York 10022
Candy at Last
Copyright © 2014 Candy Spelling. All rights reserved. This book or any part thereof may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Cover design: Maxwell Roth
Book design: Lissa Auciello-Brogan
Cover photo: © John Russo
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Candy at last : a memoir / Candy Spelling.
ISBN 978-1-118-40950-3 (hardcover) -- ISBN 978-1-63026-072-9 (ebook)
1. Spelling, Candy. 2. Spelling, Candy--Marriage. 3. Spelling, Aaron. 4. Spelling, Candy--Family. 5. Mothers and daughters--United States. 6. Television producers’ and directors’ spouses--United States--Biography. 7. Businesswomen--United States--Biography. 8. Women television personalities--United States--Biography. 9. Hollywood (Los Angeles, Calif.)--Social life and customs. 10. Los Angeles (Calif.)--Social life and customs. I. Spelling, Candy. Stories from Candyland. II. Title.
(hardcover) 978-1-11840-950-3, ISBN (e-book) 978-1-63026-072-9
Printed in the United States of America
14 15 16 17 18 0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
who is the heart and soul of who I am today
We were sitting in the living room of Candy Spelling’s famous (actually, legendary) home in Beverly Hills. We had always wanted to get a tour of the house ever since we met Aaron and Candy at a dinner party at the home of Marvin and Barbara Davis while we were on the Oscar circuit of dinners in 2002 for our movie
But time passed; Aaron was no longer with us. But one day we got a call from Candy—out of the blue—asking if we’d come over one afternoon for coffee.
We knew quite a bit about Candy from all the many stories of her philanthropy, her generosity of spirit, and her beloved, sparkling wit and charm. But nothing prepared us for that wonderful afternoon at the Manor (second to no place on earth other than the Dynasty Mansion or Downton Abbey).
We arrived and we were excited to be guided through the long-awaited tour. Afterward (back in the living room) we reminisced about Aaron and his staggering accomplishments, and we, first and foremost, witnessed a vital and energetic woman who was ready to begin the next chapter of her life. But what could that possibly be?
We perceived that Candy had learned much from Aaron’s business smarts, but she also knew a lot about the life and world of a producer.
Although we arrived with no agenda, we suddenly blurted out: “Have you ever thought of becoming a Broadway producer?”
She seemed surprised. Kind of shocked. But instantly intrigued.
Not long afterward, after many other meetings and phone calls, Candy found herself listed up there with the other co-producers of our two upcoming productions:
starring Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth and
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
starring Daniel Radcliffe and John Larroquette, two Tony-winning hits. (She subsequently
continued her Broadway producing without us, helping mount
Nice Work If You Can Get It
We learned a lot about Candy during our New York adventures. She was a born producer. Great instincts. A sense of fearlessness. Amazing taste. And a keen understanding of marketing, publicity, and merchandising. She was savvy and had a laser-beam ability to find problems and solve them. We were so grateful to have her on our team.
But we also got to know Candy the person. Warm, kind, and damn funny. Her wit kept us laughing—and on our toes. You couldn’t hope for a greater friend. Or partner.
We got to know Candy Spelling 2.0. And we feel so fortunate to have her in our lives.
And whether it was from keen observation or pure osmosis from her earlier years, we launched a new producer. Aaron would have been so proud.
As proud of her as we are today.
—Craig Zadan and Neil Meron
I’ve lived my life in three different stages. There were my formative years, growing up with my family. Then I was an ingénue who dated and later married the hardest-working television writer in Hollywood. Aaron’s world of famous faces and sophistication was an intimidating milieu, especially for a shy young woman who was raised to speak only when spoken to. Fortunately for me, my new husband’s talents at the typewriter were matched by his kindness and generous spirit. With his loving support, I was able to overcome these emotional obstacles and fill the shoes his immense success laid out for me.
Despite having a very public profile, our family life was very private. Aaron and I didn’t go out at night. We weren’t seen anywhere cool. We did things like take the kids to Swenson’s Ice Cream Parlor. We also liked to have our closest friends over for movie night in our home. In fact, it was only about seven years ago that I went to my first concert to see Madonna.
Until recently, I never spoke publicly or gave any interviews. I suppose this is why it has been so easy for me to be characterized as the cunning Alexis Carrington. The truth is, I am more like Blake’s dutiful wife, Krystle Carrington, but let’s face it—she wasn’t very exciting.
For almost four decades, my job was to create the stable home life Aaron needed so he could be out there in the Hollywood trenches. When he became ill, we had a complete role reversal. I had to step up and take over. Protecting Aaron from scrutiny and preserving his reputation became my number-one priority.
When Aaron died, I not only lost my partner in life. I was also suddenly missing the force of nature who had defined me and our family. For the first time in thirty-eight years, I had to learn to function in the big, scary world on my own. There were new challenges every day and I was definitely out of my comfort zone.
When I sat down to share my story, my intention was to share the beginning of my life with Aaron Spelling. Then I thought about the absolutely amazing letters I receive from women who have been recently widowed or who have terminally ill husbands. They share their grief and fears with me, or tell me that something I said gave them strength. I had never thought about how my personal experiences might help other women. Once I realized I could have a positive impact, I decided it was time to talk about the end of Aaron’s life as well.
With age has also come the loss of my filters. So before I knew it, I was writing about my misadventures of dating and sex. After forty years of being with the same partner, it was a whole new world. This is uncharted territory for a woman of my age, and I am certain the media will have at it. But honestly, I don’t think they could possibly say anything worse about me than they already have.
Over the years, I have learned the difference between things that I can change and things that will always be the same. With the help of some very good therapy, I have resolved my own internal feelings about my complex relationship with my daughter, and here, for the first time, I am able to write honestly about it.
It’s been a few months now since I turned my completed manuscript into my publisher. Reading over the chapters, I am very proud of my work and the insights I impart. Despite all of my ups and downs, there is very little I would go back and change in my life. Even during the toughest times when there was a giant elephant in the room, there was a life lesson to be learned.
There is an old adage that asks, “How do you deal with an elephant in the room?” The answer to this has proved true time and again, “You deal with it one bite at a time.”
The air on the second floor of the mortuary definitely seemed thinner than it had been in the lobby downstairs. I was cold and having trouble breathing. The melancholic energy hit me like an invisible force field as soon as I stepped off the elevator. I tried to make polite eye contact with the somber funeral arranger as he stepped aside so I could make the left-hand turn down the hallway to the room where the coffins were displayed. The more steps we took, the longer the hallway seemed to grow. I thought we would never get there. Choosing the coffin and the liner would be the conclusion of almost an entire day spent at the cemetery making decisions for the last place on Earth my husband would be.
It was a sunny day in mid-June. Normally in Los Angeles we have June gloom all month, but on this day, the sun was out. The warm weather made walking the entire grounds that much more taxing. I had brought my twenty-eight-year-old son Randy for moral support, thinking we could make decisions together, but he was understandably having trouble coping. Aaron was still alive but slipping away every day. I was just a few years older than Randy was when my mother died. I had learned from this experience that it was better to take care of these arrangements in a relatively stable state of mind. My father completely fell apart, and it was all left on my shoulders.
Randy ran out of the room as I struggled to make a decision on the color of the satin liner. He probably thought I was going on and on about things that didn’t matter, but Randy wasn’t a husband yet. He didn’t understand the weight of these decisions. This would be the last thing I would do for my husband of thirty-eight years. It didn’t matter that nobody would see Aaron; I wanted to put the same care and attention to detail in these decisions that I had throughout our marriage. I wanted it to be perfect for him. It was no different from making sure his shirts were neatly folded and put away. Or the way I always had his favorite snacks laid out precisely the way he liked them when he sat
down in front of the television to watch football. Aaron, I knew, would have expected me to handle it just this way.
I let Randy run outside without going after him. He was better off waiting for me in the car. I stayed and finished my business because it had to be done, and it was my job to do it.
The Torn Ribbon on My Heart
Aaron had been living in a prison for the last two years. He had suffered a stroke and been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is a scary and mysterious disease, but my mourning didn’t begin on the day of his diagnosis. It began when he refused to get out of bed and refused to be nourished. His doctor came to the house regularly to check on him and hydrate him intravenously. The doctor wanted to take him down the street to UCLA Medical Center where he could be managed more completely, but Aaron was very clear.
“No thanks, Doc.”