Tori Spelling grew up in a huge mansion in L.A. and was the assumed heiress to a $600,000 million fortune. Instead, she made headlines for her unpaid bills. From riches to rags, this is her untold truth.
An L.A. Baby
Tori Spelling made her debut into the world on May 16, 1973, in the City of Angels. And like other L.A. babies, she was born into a family of Hollywood royalty: mom Candy and dad Aaron Spelling, the renowned producer.
By the time Tori's parents met in 1968, Aaron had quite a few executive producer credits under his belt. The two tied the knot a few years after Spelling's divorce from his first wife. The couple became parents in 1973 and welcomed another child, son Randy, in 1998.
Her Dad Was a Total Icon
Tori's father wasn't just any executive producer: he was a two-time Emmy winner and a Primetime Emmy Awards Hall of Fame member. Aaron was also one of the brains behind television classics like 1981's Dynasty and 1996's 7th Heaven. He changed the world of TV.
By the time his career came to an end, Aaron had the record for most prolific television producer in U.S. history. His daughter would come to benefit professionally from this title. But before that, she enjoyed the lavish lifestyle that came with having a Hollywood icon as a father.
The Spelling Manor
Tori and her brother Randy lived an extraordinary life in California. She went to Beverly Hills High School and later to a college preparatory. But probably the most unique part of Tori's upbringing was her home life: one straight out of a luxurious Hollywood film set.
Tori's family lived in The Manor, the largest home in Los Angeles County. The mansion measured 56,500 square feet and had 123 rooms total, including 14 bedrooms and 27 bathrooms. The estate, constructed for the Spellings, cost a whopping $12 million when it was built in 1988.
A Luxurious Childhood
The opulence in Tori's life went beyond the (large) bounds of her home. The Spelling family were constant figures at A-list parties, premieres, and award shows. And when they weren't doing that, they could be found on expensive vacations or shopping sprees.
Yet Tori had no idea her life was so out of the ordinary. "It was, you know, probably 80 degrees out in L.A., and my dad took me outside, and there was snow," she recalled. "At the time, I thought, 'Every kid doesn't have snow in their backyard on Christmas?'"
Tori looked like she lived a dream life, and in some ways, she did. But the Spelling household wasn't all rainbows and butterflies. The actress revealed later in life that she was close to her dad, and that relationship drove a wedge between her and mom Candy.
Tori detailed how Aaron told her he loved her "more than [your] Mommy." She explained, "Even when I was young, I just knew, I knew from the beginning it was just, it was complicated." But being daddy's favorite also meant Tori's Hollywood dreams got plenty of attention.
She Took Acting Classes
It didn't take long for young Tori to set her sights on the lights and glam of Hollywood. By the time she was just six years old, Tori wanted to act - and her wish was her father's command. Aaron quickly hired a private acting coach for his daughter.
And that wasn't all; the famous producer took no issue with pulling strings for Tori. He used his connections to land the six-year-old a bunch of guest spots on television series. Spelling began her career with one-liners on shows like The Love Boat and Saved by the Bell.
A Big Shopper
And landing television gigs wasn't the only thing Aaron provided: Tori was also a big shopper. The teen girl "would close a store and drop $50,000 to $60,000," her mom Candy told The New York Times. "I never did anything like that. She just went crazy."
"In all honesty, I grew up a certain way. I never had to worry about money ... that was my reality," Tori shared. Spelling grew used to a high-maintenance lifestyle. But little did the then seventeen-year-old know, the good life wouldn't last forever.
"Just Give My Daughter Some Small Role"
But for a while, things were good, really good. With the help of her dad, Tori got a small part on Beverly Hills, 90210. But the role was actually her second choice - the young actress originally wanted to be the lead character, Kelly. Instead, Tori was a minor character named Donna.
"Clearly, my dad had said, 'Just give my daughter some small role,'" Tori shared, calling the role a "consolation part." But that didn't matter to Spelling. Fortunately for her, she wasn't a struggling artist worried about the next payday and could afford a small gig.
Her Breakout Role
But as it turned out, getting cast as Donna in Beverly Hills, 90210 was the in that Tori needed. She was just excited to be on set, so Spelling was thrilled when the minor part turned into her breakout role. Donna soon became a series favorite on the teen drama.
She got the hook up through her dad, but Tori grew in the role thanks to her own drive. And it paid off: Beverly Hills, 90210 became a total hit and television classic. The series aired for ten seasons from 1990 to 2000 and cemented Spelling's place in Hollywood.
No More of Daddy's Money
But believe it or not, landing her dream job had its downsides. Tori missed out on lots of ordinary experiences since she got cast in 90210 at age 16. "It kind of sucked that I didn't get to go to college," she admitted. And that wasn't the only hard part.
"For better or for worse, I grew up on the show," Tori said. And that meant becoming financially independent from dad - and no more limitless credit cards. "I had a hit T.V. series, so I didn't really need [my parents] for anything," Spelling recalled.
The Best - and Worst - of Times
Tori was independent at a young age and a successful actress. But while she portrayed a total It Girl on the small screen, things were different behind the scenes. Spelling described herself as "a young, really insecure teenager that never thought I was good enough."
"Off-camera, I didn't feel at all beautiful or good about myself," she confessed. But at the same time, starring on Beverly Hills, 90210 was "one of the best times of my life," Tori added. But Spelling soon learned that adulting and living life in Hollywood was no easy thing.
She Went Broke
Tori had big paychecks thanks to her 90210 role. But that money didn't cover the kind of lifestyle she grew used to as Aaron Spelling's child. According to Celebrity Net Worth, the executive producer had a net worth of roughly $600 million - and Tori enjoyed those millions.
So going on her own with a multi-millionaire upbringing led to dire consequences: Spelling went broke. "It's no mystery why I have money problems," the actress bluntly wrote in her memoir, Spelling It Like It Is. "I grew up rich beyond anyone's dreams."
Her Mom's Regrets
"I never knew anything else," Spelling continued. "Even when I try to embrace a simpler lifestyle, I can't seem to let go of my expensive tastes." She blamed her lavish upbringing for accustoming her to a millionaire lifestyle - and her mom did the same.
Tori's mother admitted that she regretted raising her without financial limits. "My husband and I handed everything to our children, only later to realize that pushing up your shirtsleeves and digging in your heels is character building," Candy shared.
Tori Refused Help
But even as Tori struggled to go from $50,000 Gucci shopping sprees to living on a more average Hollywood actor's budget, she refused to ask for help. Spelling didn't share her problems with Aaron because she didn't want to fulfill people's assumptions of her.
Asking for help would mean that "I was what everyone thought I was," Tori explained. "Taking money from my dad, the rich little girl that he paid for everything. And I just refused to be that. [I would] rather be bankrupt." And that's almost what happened.
With trouble supporting herself, Tori got to work. "I turned into my dad's daughter, and I started thinking of things to do, ways to make money," Spelling recalled. She started with booking more gigs outside of Beverly Hills, 90210, and continued the momentum when the show went off the air.
After 90210 aired its final season in 2000, Tori starred in Scary Movie 2 and many other films and series. But financial troubles followed. "It's not my fault I'm an uptown girl stuck in a midtown life," Spelling said. "I was raised in opulence. My standards are ridiculously high."
Her First Big Love
As Tori navigated her career and financial troubles, she didn't expect to meet her future husband. Spelling met actor and writer Charlie Shahnaian while acting in his 2002 play Maybe Baby, It's You in Los Angeles. And a few years later, they tied the knot.
The couple celebrated their love with a million-dollar wedding on July 3, 2004. "I went into the marriage with the best intentions, hopes, and dreams," Tori reflected. But unfortunately, it wasn't long before those hopes and dreams became nothing but a fantasy.
An Affair on Set
Just about a year after her wedding to Shahnaian, Spelling was on set in Ottawa, Canada, for the Lifetime television movie Mind Over Murder. That's where she met actor Dean McDermott. And while they were both married to other people, things soon got intimate.
At the time, Dean was still with his wife of over ten years, actress Mary Jo Eustace. But neither he nor Tori let their marriages stop them from acting on their feelings. Spelling and McDermott had an intense on-set romance, and things didn't end when filming wrapped up.
Charlie Saw It in the Tabloids
It didn't take long for the tabloids to catch on to the affair - and expose both of them. "Fifteen months into my marriage, I opened the National Enquirer to see pictures of what appeared to be my wife giving another man a lap dance," Shahnaian revealed.
But it was ultimately Tori who ended things, calling it quits in her therapist's office. "She had only married me because I loved her and took care of her," Charlie said of what he learned during that therapy session. "She had purposefully shown me only 10 percent of her true personality."
Tying the Knot, Again
As Tori's marriage fell apart, so did her lover's decade-long relationship. Dean told his wife the truth and ended things with her shortly after returning from Canada. So when Spelling's divorce to Shahnaian was finalized in April 2006, the pair didn't hesitate before tying the knot.
Dean and Tori got married in a private ceremony on May 7, 2006, in Fiji. "I had to follow my heart," Spelling said of how quickly she remarried after her divorce. "Ultimately, you have to realize that happiness is out there and not settle for anything else." Sadly, things were about to take a turn for the worse.
Her Dad Passed Away
As Tori gained one important person in her life, she would soon lose another. After some years spent drifting apart, Spelling and her dad Aaron had finally reconciled before her wedding to Dean. But Aaron passed away not long after that, on June 23, 2006.
"It's a true blessing to have had a parent that loved me unconditionally," Tori said at the time. "He had a heart as big as his talent, and today, along with many others, I mourn his loss. He was a great man and even better father." Soon, the actress would be back in the headlines for shocking reasons.
A Shockingly Small Inheritance
When Aaron Spelling initially passed, the media covered his passing and highlighted the Hollywood icon's many accomplishments. But when news broke on how much the producer left for each of his children, the Spelling name filled tabloids for entirely different reasons.
With only wife Candy and two children, there was presumably a sizeable amount of money that each of Aaron's family members could inherit. Yet Tori, despite being a lifelong daddy's girl, inherited $800,000 of the $600 million fortune left by her late father.
Was Tori Blindsided?
But while the public was shocked by the news and the "small" inheritance of nearly a million dollars, Tori was not. The actress revealed she spoke with her late father about the money a bit before his passing. "It was a hard conversation to have with him," Spelling shared.
"I didn't want him to think I was asking him for the money or even talking about something so morbid as when he would pass. But I thought it was a conversation I needed to have ... for myself and for my brother," she continued. "We had lunch, and he said, 'You're gonna be OK. I made sure. You're getting just under a million."
Her Mom Got Everything
As it turned out, her brother Randy also got just under a million dollars. Candy inherited the rest of the $600 million worth of estate, leaving Tori in a continued dire financial situation. Although she hated to say it, Spelling was disappointed by her dad's decision.
"I think part of me, in the back of my head, maybe hoped it would be different," Spelling admitted. "But I hated myself for hoping it would be different because I didn't want to take advantage, I didn't want to be that girl who needed, or wanted, dad's money."
A Family Feud
After a lifetime of turbulence between Tori and her mom, Aaron's passing was the final straw. Following the tabloid coverage of their family drama, things only got worse. The pair seemed to get into an irresolvable feud after Candy blamed Aaron's death on their daughter.
"My daughter one day decided that she wasn't speaking to my husband, myself, and my son, and that's how it's continued for the last, oh gosh, four or five years," Candy said during a radio show interview. "And it was sad. That's what killed my husband, actually. He just didn't want to live after that."
Starting Her Own Family
As Candy and Tori's relationship fell apart, Spelling and her husband focused on starting their own family. She and Dean welcomed their first child, Liam Aaron, in March of 2007. And that was only the beginning: the couple went on to have four more kids.
Dean and Tori became parents to two more sons, Finn and Beau, and two daughters, Stella and Hattie. But as their family grew, Spelling and McDermott's marriage was not free of trouble. In fact, before welcoming their last child in 2017, news broke that Dean had been unfaithful.
He Was Unfaithful
The couple had long shared their personal life with the world, starring together in the reality show Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood. But after the series ended in 2012, fans learned that not everything was as it seemed. McDermott had an affair with 28-year-old co-star Emily Goodhand.
"He was romantic and very complimentary," Emily recounted. "He was telling me, 'You're so beautiful.' I had to call him on his bullshit, like, 'Stop saying this stuff.' He wanted to make me feel really good. Then the time for talking was over." But Tori and Dean committed to staying together.
She Forgave Him
"I thought Tori was just going to run for the hills, and I could totally understand why," Dean confessed after news exploded over the affair. "But she was like, 'I just can't turn off the love for you. I love you. You hurt me. I'm angry, but I love you. I can't turn that off.'"
Dean and Tori shared their post-affair marriage in another reality show, True Tori. But the couple couldn't catch a break from the tabloids: when they weren't on covers for extra-marital romances, Spelling and her beau were in the spotlight for their dire financial situation.
Sued by American Express
After years of spending more than she earned - and not having her father's inheritance to count on - reports broke that Tori was being sewed by American Express. The actress owed the credit card company over $38,000 by 2016 and hadn't made a payment since the year before.
City National Bank also sued her and Dean for a whopping $200,000 for failing to repay a $400,000 bank loan. Other claims from the same bank stated that Tori owed over $20,000 for other debted accounts. But these numbers ultimately seemed small compared to what was coming next...
They Owed Over a Million Dollars
In 2020, reports broke that Tori and Dean had moved into a new home: a $3.7 million mansion with a private sauna, two master rooms, a bar, a pool, and a waterfall. But while they seemed to be living the good life on the outside, the truth was much grimmer.
According to reports, the couple owed nearly $1.2 million in taxes. "Even when my tastes aren't fancy, they're still costly," Spelling explained of her spending habits. "I moved houses to simplify my life but lost almost a million dollars along the way."
Mom to the Rescue
"When you grow up silver spoon, it's hard to go plastic," Tori admitted. Fortunately for their children, she has since mended things with grandma Candy - who came in to help with moolah after the public learned of Tori's dire situation. But Mrs. Spelling clarified she was not helping pay back the debts.
"I'm not paying back extras like that. I'm not paying any back payments - just for the house, and the kids' schools, and their food," Candy explained. And with rumors now swirling that Tori and Dean's marriage is once more on the rocks, the family reunion likely comes at a necessary time.