He was born in Dallas, Texas. He went to Forest Avenue High School. After serving with the USAAF he graduated from Southern Methodist University, Dallas in 1945. He went to New York and found some work as an actor. He married actress Carolyn Jones in 1953 and they moved to California. He had his break as a writer, selling his first script to Jane Wyman Theater in 1954. He went on to write for Dick Powell, Playhouse 90, and Last Man, amongst others. He joined Powell's Four Star Productions. After the death of Powell he formed Thomas-Spelling Productions with Danny Thomas, their first hit was The Mod Squad. In 1972 he created Aaron Spelling Productions and another co-production company with Leonard Goldberg. His company went public in 1986 as Spelling Entertainment.
He divorced Jones in 1965 and in 1968 he married Carol Jean Marer. He is father of the actors Victoria Davey (Tori) and Randall Gene (Randy). He lives in Los Angeles, his home is the largest single-family dwelling in California.