Welcome to the Kingdom of Spelling’s Pretty Dolls


She’s been known as the wife of a mega-producer, the mother of a TV starlet and the woman who built that L.A. mansion. But now Candy Spelling is striking out on her own.

She will introduce her line of Candy Spelling Fantasy Dolls on the QVC shop-at-home channel Sunday morning at 11, selling limited-edition vinyl figures with such names as Pamela, Catherine and Little Bo Peep. Some will be dressed in glamorous gowns worthy of a woman like, well, Candy Spelling.

“It’s a passion,” she says of her dolls. “They are special.”

So special that she finds herself chatting with them.

“It’s terrible,” she confesses, “but sometimes when I’m (with them) late at night, I’ll talk to them. I mean, God forbid they would answer you.”


Forgive Spelling her weakness for anthropomorphizing these sweet-faced creatures. It’s just that she knows them inside and out, from their little blue-irised eyes and golden manes to the lace-trimmed bloomers tucked under their dresses.

If this is Spelling’s true calling, it has taken her decades to find it. The late-40ish wife of producer Aaron Spelling (“Beverly Hills, 90210,” “Melrose Place”) and mother of actress Tori Spelling (Donna on “90210”), has been an interior decorator, a shop owner and a socialite with a penchant for big jewels and drop-dead designer clothes.

She was also the mastermind behind the masterhouse, the family’s 56,000-square-foot mansion near Beverly Hills that became, during its years-long construction, the butt of countless jokes about decadence and overindulgence.

On Wednesday, Spelling glides through the house’s enormity confidently, arriving half an hour late to an office shared by two secretaries. Her shoulder-length blond hair complements a taupe silk charmeuse blouse and taupe pants accented with a gold chain belt dripping little charms--an ensemble that blends with the muted peach and beige decor.

She apologizes profusely, then leads the way through a hallway and into an elevator, down one floor, past a huge conference room and a game room with a pool table to the doll museum. If not for the occasional family photograph, the house, which also features a gift-wrapping room, might be mistaken for a plush hotel.

The museum houses Spelling’s collection of hundreds of vinyl Madame Alexander dolls, the darlings of a New York manufacturer in business since 1923. The pristine Alexanders line custom-designed glass-front cabinets. Each is tagged with a name, number and year of issue. The temperature is kept a little chillier here--it’s better for the dolls.

The dolls Spelling designed for her Fantasy collection stand at attention, mouths frozen in Mona Lisa smiles, on a small stage rimmed with a fringed burgundy velvet curtain.

Each was born in an attic workroom complete with exposed pipes. In the middle of the night, when inspiration hits, Spelling sneaks up the stairs, past the dust mops and vacuum cleaners, to her neat aerie. Fabric swatches are tacked up on boards and sketches line a wall. Drawing tables are outfitted with markers and pads.


The QVC connection, Spelling explains, came about with the help of a longtime friend, fashion designer Nolan Miller. “(He) was there selling his jewelry and he saw some dolls on a table. He’s very outspoken and he said to the president of QVC, ‘These are ugly dolls. You should see Candy Spelling’s dolls’--he meant my collection.”

QVC made her an offer to do her own line. It took her a week to say yes.

An admitted perfectionist, Spelling went detail crazy in creating the prototypes. Eyes were changed, protruding ears pinned back, and legs re-sculpted before the Alexander Doll Co. could begin production.

“I found a picture of Betty Grable,” she recalls, “the old pinup picture, a front and back view, and I sent it to them and said I wanted the legs to look just like this.”

The cherubic face of the smaller 12-inch dolls is based on a childhood photograph of Candy; the bigger 17-inch dolls look a little like Tori.

“The reason I did this was not a narcissistic thing,” she explains, but rather an attempt to have her dolls look different from the other Alexanders.

Inspirations for the dolls’ clothing came from Spelling’s prom dress, a favorite blue cocktail dress, a Grace Kelly costume and a friend’s riding habit, among many others. Each has a delicate undergarment, from teddies to bloomers. With so much detail, prices are dear--from about $150 to $350.

Spelling says she has always loved dolls and kept 30 stuffed animals on her bed when she was a little girl. “And I couldn’t go to sleep until each one was in its place.”

But she didn’t become a serious collector of Alexander dolls until 15 years ago when a friend gave her old dolls to Tori.

“I thought, all right, let’s start doing this together. . . . I had doll shelves in her room and she had them all across the wall. Finally when she got older she said, ‘Mom, this is not my collection, it’s your collection. Please stop calling it my collection.’ So, it was like, OK, I’ll admit it, I’m a grown-up and I’m collecting dolls.”


Spelling’s cut of the QVC proceeds will go to Centro de Ninos, child-care centers Downtown and in East Los Angeles that service poor working families.

“I went there about six months ago, and I had never seen anything like it. It was just amazing,” she says.

“And since we’ve lived here,” she adds, “I’ve let children from different children’s charities come through in small groups and see just the doll museum. To see their faces looking at my dolls that I’ve collected, it’s just kind of . . . you know. It’s really special. Some of them just break my heart because you see these faces and think, oh my God, do they even own a doll?”

Fashion designer Miller, who has seen his friend through every phase of the doll production, believes she has truly found her niche.

“She lives in a house where everyone is famous,” he says. “But this is her project. Last night I was helping her pack up some of the dolls and she knows their names, they’re like her babies, she knows everything about them. It’s not just something Candy’s putting her name on.”

With the QVC debut just days away, is Spelling nervous?

“Of course I’m nervous!” she says. “I’m not even used to doing interviews. . . . I’ve always been behind the scenes and been very happy doing that. It’s not a problem. (So I’m doing this) just because I really, really love it and I want everyone else to feel the same. Once a decorator, once a proprietor, but this is the best.”