2023 has not been a good year for Tori Spelling, who turned 50 this year. But what good years has Tori Spelling had? She has probably been asking herself the same question since she turned 17 and, by the grace of her almighty father, producer Aaron Spelling, starred as one of the main characters on Beverly Hills, 90210. That was the beginning of her fame and misfortune, which have gone hand in hand for her since the early 1990s. A little more than halfway through this year, that seems to be truer than ever. Now, the daughter of an influential Hollywood producer who grew up in a 123-room house and was a 1990s teen star, lives on the street, in an RV, with her five children.
Spelling knows very well what emotional ups and downs are; she lives through them and makes a living from them. Indeed, the final stage of her career (which lasted quite a while) focused on selling her life on her own reality TV shows, from which she can’t and doesn’t want to leave. Her self-proclaimed addiction to fame prevents her from doing so. But these days, the focus is not exactly on her shopping sprees or eccentric style. In recent months, everything has gotten more difficult for Spelling. The worst part is that it has affected her health and, especially, the wellbeing of her five children, all of whom she shares with her ex-husband, actor Dean McDermott. It all started in December, when Spelling herself had to wear an eye patch because of an ulcer caused by her contact lenses. In January, her daughter Stella, who was 14 at the time and is now 15, was hospitalized for what was ultimately diagnosed as hemiplegic migraines, which affected her motor system and speech.
In May, things took a turn for the worse. Her children, whose ages range between 6 and 16, began to fall ill, one after another. On social media, Spelling posted photos of her exhausted kids at the urgent care center, wearing masks, with cold compresses placed on their foreheads. “[I] used to think… well, that’s what happens when you have young kids in school. They just continually bring sicknesses home,” she wrote on her Instagram page, which has two million followers. “But…when it gets to the point where they are at home sick more than [they are] in school, we had to reassess what was going on.” It turned out that what was going on had a name: mold.
The Los Angeles house where the family lived was infested with mold to the extent that it was downright unhealthy, as had become apparent. “This house has been slowly killing us for three years,” she stated in a letter in which she also sought a lawyer to help her with the problem. Because California has high levels of humidity on the coast, mold is a more common problem in residences than it might seem. In fact, as of January 1, 2022, landlords are required to give their tenants a pamphlet warning them of the dangers of mold (and those tenants must sign to indicate that they have received it). It explains that they must control mold, odors, stains and water leaks, that cleaning or painting over it is not enough, and that it can cause asthma, respiratory problems or rashes, like what Spelling’s children experienced. California health law establishes that large quantities of mold can even cause a house to be removed from the real estate market and render it unfit to live in.
All these problems caused Spelling and her kids to leave their home. At first, her husband went with them. But after 17 years of marriage, Spelling separated from McDermott in mid-July. They announced it in separate Instagram posts, which they later deleted. “It’s with great sadness and a very, very heavy heart that, after 18 years together and 5 amazing children, Tori Spelling and I have decided to go our separate ways, and start a new journey on our own,” wrote the actor and producer, who also has a 24-year-old son from a previous marriage. The couple had already been through a serious marital crisis in 2014 after an episode of infidelity, but they got through it. The reasons for the couple’s current separation are unknown, but it seems to be definitive.
Since then, Spelling has been more erratic. As her friends leaked to the tabloids, she has been canceling engagements, unresponsive and aimless. At first, she and her five children—who had not yet fully recovered, she claimed—went to live in a motel for $100 a night (a cheap price in that Californian city). Now, a few weeks later, she is living in an RV. As the British newspaper Daily Mail showed in an exclusive photographic report, the six live in a classic Sunseeker E450 motorhome, and sit under the porch awning, with beach chairs, folding tables, plastic mats, barbecues and clothes hanging on hangers outside the vehicle. They are not parked in a campground but rather next to a cliff overlooking the Pacific in Ventura, northwest of Los Angeles.
The situation is more than just a vacation or summer arrangement. According to ET, which has spoken to sources close to the actress, Spelling is having real financial difficulties, which have gotten worse since the divorce. They say that “Tori is doing her best to make things work and take care of her kids.” This scenario would be difficult for anyone, but it is even more shocking for one of Hollywood’s richest and most famous actresses. In reality, the money belonged to her family, not to her personally. When her father, Aaron Spelling, the producer of the show that catapulted her to fame, as well as The Love Boat, Dynasty, Charlie’s Angels, Charmed... died in 2006, he left his two children, Tori and Randy (who is five years younger than Tori and a perennial aspiring actor) about $800,000, mere crumbs from his fortune, which was estimated at over $600 million. According to her mother’s interview with The New York Times, young Tori was a bit of a handful and Aaron preferred to keep her on a short leash. In her recent autobiography, Tori herself confessed that there was “no mystery” about why she had financial problems: “I grew up rich beyond anyone’s dreams. Even when I try to embrace a simpler lifestyle, I can’t seem to let go of my expensive tastes.”
Indeed, in 1991, Aaron Spelling’s vast wealth allowed him to build a mansion that was considered to be one of the largest homes in California and the entire U.S. for decades. He called it Candyland in honor of his beloved wife, Candy Spelling, and customized it completely to her taste. The mansion was 56,510.53 square feet, and it was built on a plot of over 20451 square feet in area—bigger than the White House. Candyland had 123 rooms, including 14 bedrooms (the master bedroom was 7535 square feet) and 27 bathrooms, plus a dining room that comfortably fit 22 diners and other amenities like a movie theater, bowling alley, theater, tennis court, gym, solarium, a 100-car garage, a room for silverware and another for Candy’s 1,000 dolls, a refrigerated flower shop and even a dedicated gift-wrapping room. In 2011, when Candy sold the villa to Formula 1 heiress Petra Ecclestone—who resold Candyland in 2019—she turned that room into a hair salon and spa with several sinks for washing hair. Certainly, the mansion’s residents have always embraced their eccentricities.
On more than one occasion, Spelling has recounted that, starting at age 17, she lived there continuously for a couple of years, and that it was warm, “or as warm as a 5,000-square-foot mansion can be,” as she told her former costar Jennie Garth (the actress who played Kelly on Beverly Hills, 90210) on their podcast a year and a half ago. “I never got to see all the rooms, and I lived there for two years. There was one wing where all of my mother’s staff [about 20 people] lived,” she explained. In another conversation on a radio station a few months earlier, she observed that it “was beautifully decorated; my mom has impeccable taste…But the rooms were large, and it felt cold all the time. Just because physically, honestly, they were too big.” The first of Candy’s parties (of which there were few, given the magnificence of such a huge house) honored then-Prince (now King) Charles of the United Kingdom during his visit to the California city in 1994; he spent five days in the city and stayed at the Bel Air hotel.
Candyland was also where Tori Spelling married her first husband, Charlie Shahnaian, in a grand event that took place in July 2004 and was considered one of the most expensive weddings in history: the bride’s dress alone cost $50,000 and the reception was about $800,000. A couple of years after Aaron Spelling passed away in 2006, Candy decided to sell the mansion; it held too many happy memories. She sold it for $120 million, a record for the estate, and moved to a smaller place. But her home is not so small that she couldn’t take in her daughter and five grandchildren, many argue. Indeed, she’s been criticized on Instagram for not doing so as she marvels at the roses blooming on her balcony. When Tori filed for divorce less than a month ago, her 77-year-old mother assured TMZ that she would help her daughter financially if she needed it. “I love my daughter; I will support her in everything she does. I will always be here for her,” she said. Some sources pointed out that Candy has wanted to help her with a new home, but Tori has refused, although the reason is unknown.
The conflict between Candy and Tori goes back a long way. Candy never liked Tori’s relationship with Dean McDermott, which began when she was still married to Shahnaian, and it took her mother a long time to accept it. In a 2009 interview, Candy was very hard on the actress. “My daughter decided one day that she wasn’t speaking to my husband, myself and my son, and that’s how it’s continued for the last four or five years,”” she said on the radio. “And it was sad. That’s what killed my husband, actually. He just didn’t want to live after that. He [had] just done everything he could possibly do for his daughter, and she wanted no part of him once he couldn’t do anything for her.” The back-and-forth was mutual and reached a point at which Candy could not see her grandchildren for years. Recently, however, a mutual friend decided to try to get them together for dinner because they hadn’t seen each other “since before the pandemic,” as Tori recounted. “We had a great night,” the actress said of seeing her mother. The relationship seemed to have improved, despite Tori’s financial problems. In fact, some sources have told the press that Candy is trying to call Tori to talk to her and offer her a house, but the star of Beverly Hills, 90210 does not want it because she is looking for a very specific place; she also won’t pick up the phone for anyone. Tori has confessed that she needs public attention, that she would not know how to live without it, but it seems that the attention of the people who love her is not enough. As always, Tori’s fortune and misfortune go hand in hand.
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