She was television's most famous virgin -- and, as Aaron Spelling's daughter, arguably its most famous case of nepotism. Portraying Donna Martin on Beverly Hills, 90210, Tori Spelling became one of the most recognizable young actresses of her generation, with a not-so-private personal life every bit as fascinating as her character's exploits. Yet years later the name Tori Spelling too often closed -- and sometimes slammed -- the same doors it had opened.
sTORI telling is Tori's chance to finally tell her side of the tabloid-worthy life she's led, and she talks about it all: her decadent childhood birthday parties, her nose job, her fairy-tale wedding to the wrong man, her so-called feud with her mother. Tori has already revealed her flair for brilliant, self-effacing satire on her VH1 show So NoTORIous and Oxygen's Tori & Dean: Inn Love, but her memoir goes deeper, into the real life behind the rumors: her complicated relationship with her parents; her struggles as an actress after 90210; her accident-prone love life; and, ultimately, her quest to define herself on her own terms.
From her over-the-top first wedding to finding new love to her much-publicized -- and misunderstood -- "disinheritance," sTORI telling is a juicy, eye-opening, enthralling look at what it really means to be Tori Spelling.
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Tori Spelling is an actress whose career spans theater, television, and film. She's received critical praise for her work in such independent films as Trick and The House of Yes. She both starred in and executive produced the comedy series S o NoTORIous on VH1 and the popular reality series Tori & Dean: Inn Love on Oxygen. She lives with her husband, Dean McDermott, son, Liam, and daughter, Stella, in Los Angeles.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
When you're a kid, you don't worry what anyone thinks. You go around saying whatever pops into your head or picking your teeth, and it never occurs to you that someone might think you're gross, awkward, or ridiculous. That was me -- picking my nose, snorting when I laughed, wearing white after Labor Day -- I just was who I was. That all changed one day at the tender age of twelve when I was getting ready for a family photo. We were having a formal family portrait taken with our dogs (doesn't everyone do that?), and I was getting frustrated with my bangs. I couldn't get them to do whatever a twelve-year-old in 1985 wanted bangs to do. So I went into my parents' bathroom, all dressed up, with my hair done as best I could manage, and asked my mother, "Am I pretty?"
She looked at me and said, "You will be when we get your nose done."
I was stunned. My nose, as noses tend to be, was right in the middle of my face, and I had just been told that it was ugly. So long, innocence.
To be fair, let the record show that my mother has absolutely no recollection of making this comment. I know this because in high school I took a class called Human Development, taught by Mrs. Wildflower. In it we had to keep a journal (her name was Mrs. Wildflower -- what did you expect?), and when Mrs. Wildflower read my story about the nose incident, she called my parents. That afternoon I came home to find my mother crying. She said, "I never said that. I'd never say something like that." I'm sure she was telling the truth as she remembered it.
Nonetheless, I had my nose done the minute I turned sixteen. Or didn't you hear? But what I realized as a twelve-year-old was bigger than that I was destined for the plastic surgeon's chair. I realized that how other people saw me wasn't necessarily how I saw myself. Feeling pretty or smart or happy wasn't all there was to it. What I hadn't considered before was how I was perceived. And it wasn't the last criticism I'd hear about my nose.
Little did I know then how huge a role public perception would play in my life. My nose, and pretty much every other "prominent" body part and feature, would be prey to gossip and tabloids in just a few years. But the unwanted attention wasn't limited to my body. According to the press, I was the rich, spoiled daughter of TV producer Aaron Spelling. They claimed I grew up in California's largest single-family residence. They said that my father had fake snow made on his Beverly Hills lawn for Christmas. They said I was the ultimate example of nepotism, a lousy actor who nonetheless scored a lead role in her father's hit TV show. They pigeonholed me as my character on Beverly Hills, 90210: Donna Martin, the ditzy blonde virgin. They later talked about my wedding, my divorce, and my second wedding. They reported that I'd been disinherited and was feuding with my mother. They told about the birth of my son. What I learned from my ugly nose was true times a million: The details of my life were and would always be considered public property.
Some of what you may have read about me is accurate (my father did hire a snow machine for Christmas), some false (I didn't live in that enormous house until I was seventeen), and some exaggerated (I wasn't "disinherited"). But all the while the life I was living was much more than that. I lived in fear of my own doll collection. I let a bad boyfriend spend my 90210 salary. I planned a fairy-tale wedding to the wrong man. I begged casting directors to forget that Donna Martin ever existed. I was working hard and shopping like crazy. I was falling in love and getting hurt. My life has been funnier and sadder and richer and poorer than any of the magazines know.
Public opinion dies hard. To this day I still look in the mirror and hate my nose. Still, everyone else has been telling stories about me for decades now. It's about time I told a few of my own.
Copyright © 2008 by Tori Spelling
X Marks the Spot
Here's the part of my book where I'm supposed to say, Sure, my family had lots of money, but I had a normal childhood just like everyone else. Yeah, I could say that, but I'd be lying. My childhood was really weird. Not better or worse than anyone else's childhood, but definitely different.
Part of it was the whole holiday thing. My parents liked to make a spectacle, and the press ate it up. Like I said, it's true that my father got snow for our backyard one Christmas. But that's only half the story, if anyone's counting -- he actually did it twice. The first time was when I was five. My father told our family friend Aunt Kay that he wanted me to have a white Christmas. She did some research, made a few calls, and at six a.m. on Christmas Day a truck from Barrington Ice in Brentwood pulled up to our house. My dad, Aunt Kay, and a security guard dragged garbage bags holding eight tons of ice into the back where there was plastic covering a fifteen-foot-square patch of the yard. They spread the snow out over the plastic, Dad with a pipe hanging from his mouth. To complete the illusion, they added a Styrofoam snowman that my father had ordered up from the props department at his studio. It was eighty degrees out, but they dressed me up in a ski jacket and hat and brought me out into the yard, exclaiming, "Oh, look, it snowed! In all of Los Angeles it snowed right here in your backyard! Aren't you a lucky girl?"
I'm sure that little white patch was as amazing to a five-year-old as seeing a sandbox for the first time, but my parents didn't stop there. Five years later they were thinking bigger, and technology was too. This time, again with Aunt Kay's guidance, my dad hired a snow machine to blow out so much powder that it not only filled the tennis court, it created a sledding hill at one end of the court. I was ten and my brother, Randy, was five. They dressed us in full-on snowsuits (the outfits were for the photos, of course -- it was a typical eighty-five degrees out). According to Aunt Kay, the sledding hill lasted three days and everyone came to see the snow in Beverly Hills: Robert Wagner, Mel Brooks...not that I noticed or cared. Randy and I spent Christmas running up the hill and zooming down in red plastic saucer sleds. Even our dogs got to slide down the hill. It was a pretty spectacular day for an L.A. girl.
My parents didn't get the concept of having me grow up like other kids. When I was about eight, my class took a field trip to my dad's studio. It was a fun day -- my father showed us around and had some surprises planned, such as a stuntman breaking "glass" over some kid's head. But then, at the end of the day, the whole class stood for a photo. My father and I were in the back row. Just before the shutter clicked, he picked me up and held me high above the class. My face in the photo says it all. I was beyond embarrassed that my father was lifting me up like that. I just wanted to fit in. When I complained to him, he said, "But you couldn't be seen." He just didn't get it.
And then there were the birthday parties. The setting was always the backyard of our house on the corner of Mapleton and Sunset Boulevard in Holmby Hills, a fancy area on the west side of Los Angeles. It was a very large house -- though not the gigantic manor where everyone thinks I grew up -- maybe 10,000 square feet. It was designed by the noted L.A. architect Paul Williams, whose many public buildings include the famous Beverly Hills Hotel. A house he designed in Bel-Air was used for exterior scenes of the Colby mansion on my dad's television series The Colbys. Our house's back lawn was probably an acre surrounded by landscaping with a pool and tennis court, the regular features of houses in that neighborhood.
As I remember it, the theme for my birthdays was always Raggedy Ann, and there would be a doll centerpiece and rented tables and chairs with matching tablecloths, napkins, and cups. But every party had some new thrill. There were carnival moon bounces, which weren't common then as they are today, and fair booths lined up on both sides of the lawn offering games of ringtoss, balloon darts, duck floats, Whac-A-Mole, and the like. One birthday had a dancing Âpoodle show conducted by a man in a circus ringleader's outfit. Another included a puppet show with life-size puppets. And one year we had a surprise visit from Smidget, who at the time was the smallest living horse. My godfather, Dean Martin, whom I called Uncle Bean, always brought me a money tree -- a little tree with rolled up twenty-dollar bills instead of leaves. Just what a girl like me needed.
When my sixth-grade class graduated, we had a party at my house for which my father hired the USC marching band. Apparently, my dad first approached UCLA, but they said no. According to Aunt Kay, who organized a lot of these parties for my parents, my father told her, "Money is no object." Well, it must have been an object to the USC marching band because all one hundred plus members showed up to play "Pomp and Circumstance" and whatever else marching bands come up with to play at sixth-grade graduations. I have to admit I didn't even remember the marching band's presence until Aunt Kay told me about it. What I remember are the things a twelve-year-old remembers: the rented dance floor and the DJ and hoping that the boy I liked would ask me to slow dance to "Crazy for You" by Madonna. I remember swimming in the pool. I remember feeling sad that we were all moving on to different schools. I remember being only mildly embarrassed that my mother was hula hooping on the dance floor, but I'm sure I was truly embarrassed by the marching band.
My parents were endlessly generous, and those parties were spectacular...on paper. The reality was a little more complicated. For every birthday and Christmas my big present was always a Madame Alexander doll. Madame Alexander dolls are classic, collectible dolls. Sort of like a rich man's Barbie, but -- at least in my house -- they were meant for display...
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