“Beverly Hills, 90210,” airing from 1990 to 2000, was one of the longest-running teen dramas on television. The show made stars of cast members like Luke Perry, Jason Priestley, and Shannen Doherty and with a cast full of hormonal teenagers, there was never a shortage of drama in the script or off the set.
Shannen Doherty Drama
Let’s start with one of 90210’s most infamously dramatic ladies, Shannen Doherty. Doherty was fired from the show after Season 4 and never returned. To hear it from her, she “left” the show, but most insiders say she was fired for being too difficult to work with. However, Doherty did appear in the 2008 reboot of “90210 2.0” along with Jennie Garth.
When Shannen Doherty left the show, Drew Barrymore was offered a spot as her replacement, but Barrymore rejected it because she wanted to focus on her film career. Alyssa Milano was then for a while a strong contender, and Alicia Silverstone turned down the role before Tiffani Thiessen was cast.
Jason Priestley, Jennie Garth, Ian Ziering, Gabrielle Carteris, Brian Austin Green and Tori Spelling are the only six cast members to appear in both the Pilot and the Series Finale. Those who did not appear include Shannen Doherty and Luke Perry. Interesting enough, the two played love interests both on and off the screen!
The character Dylan was only supposed to be on for one or two episodes, because Fox executives weren’t sold on either the fictional character or Luke Perry’s ability. Aaron Spelling used his own funds to pay Perry’s salary during those initial episodes, and the positive audience response led Fox to approve his addition to the regular cast.
Will They Ever Graduate?
In the pilot, Brenda tells her date she’s a junior at West Beverly. Which means they would have graduated at the end of the second season. But they didn’t graduate until the end of the third. This led to many late night talk show jokes about how the teens had been in high school well into their 20s!
Even though the character Valerie Malone mentions Brenda Walsh as a close family friend, Shannen Doherty and Tiffani Thiessen never once appeared together in a scene on the entire show. Thiessen was only cast as a replacement following the departure of Doherty. This was explained as a reason for the relationship between the characters so as to include her on the show.
Hilary Swank was contracted for two years, but she ended up being fired after 16 episodes. Fortunately for her, two months later she got the role of Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry! Hillary Swank won the best actress Academy Award for the film and has went on to win another Oscar and top billing in big films!
Let Me Go!
Actor Douglas Emerson asked to be released from his role as Scott Scanlon because he had no interest in acting any more, and in fact he has completely retired from acting since, instead spending several years in the U.S. Air Force and starting a family. Emerson had appeared in 26 episodes and apparently that was enough acting for him!
What’s in a Name?
The show was first titled “The Class of Beverly Hills.” It was then changed to include the iconic zip code as “Beverly Hills, 90210.” Also, the high school in the show is named West Beverly High School, but it doesn’t exist. The name had to be changed because Beverly Hills High School didn’t allow their name to be used in the script.
All About the Issues
In addition to chronicling the friendships and romantic relationships of the characters, the show also addressed numerous topical issues such as date rape, gay rights, animal rights, alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence, intimacy, antisemitism, teenage suicide, teenage pregnancy, and AIDS. “Beverly Hills, 90210” was named one of the Best School Shows of All Time by AOL TV!
After a poor start in the ratings during its first season, the series gained popularity during the summer of 1991, when Fox aired a special “summer season” of the show while most other series were in reruns. The series became one of Fox’s top shows when it began its next season that fall.
“Beverly Hills, 90210” had many cast changes, but Jennie Garth, Tori Spelling, Ian Ziering and Brian Austin Green were the only actors to appear during its entire run and never changed or left the show. Other actors, like Jason Priestley and Luke Perry, left the show in late the seasons of the show.
Bye Bye Brenda
Shannen Doherty’s character, Brenda Walsh, was written off the show as moving to London to attend school at the Royal Academy for Dramatic Arts. While the character’s absence was originally described as only being for a year, she never returned, though she was mentioned from time to time during the show’s remaining seasons!
Gone Gabby Gone
Gabrielle Carteris left the show following the fifth season. Her character, Andrea Zuckerman, changed radically from high school to college. In high school, Andrea was the brainy editor of the West Beverly Blaze, had a crush on Brandon, and secretly lived out of district.
College Girl Gone Wild
During the fourth season and her freshman year of college, Andrea becomes pregnant, and gets married to someone she barely knows — Jesse. Andrea’s plot lines chronicled the struggles of trying to juggle college, marriage, and a baby as well as affairs by both Andrea and Jesse. The pregnancy plot line was written at Gabrielle Carteris’ request, so as to incorporate her real-life pregnancy.
Let’s Talk, Show
Gabrielle Carteris voluntarily left “90210” for her own self-titled talk show, after her original five-year contract ended with “90210.” Carteris’ talk show only lasted one season, it was panned by all critics. However, Carteris returned to “90210” for guest appearances during the sixth, eighth and tenth seasons.
No More Parents!
Both actors left the show following the fifth season at the end of their original five-year contracts. During the high school years of the show, Jim and Cindy Walsh played secondary roles, offering advice to Brenda and Brandon, along with their friends, but were rarely given plot lines of their own!
Bye Bye Brandon
Jason Priestley left the show at the beginning of the ninth season. However, he remained credited as an executive producer for “90210” until the end of Season nine. His character Brandon was still recovering from his aborted wedding with Kelly when he was offered a job in Washington, which he accepted. Brandon was the final Walsh family member to leave Beverly Hills.
Brenda or Kelly?
Brenda Walsh, played by Shannen Doherty, and Kelly Taylor, played by Jennie Garth, were involved in the long running love triangle with Dylan McKay, played by Luke Perry. Dylan was first with Brenda, then cheated on her with Kelly while Brenda was out of town and when Brenda found out, Dylan went with Kelly. Yikes! Who would you choose?
Tori Spelling secretly auditioned for the role of Kelly Taylor under a fake name so that casting agents would not giving her special treatment for being Aaron Spelling’s daughter. Producers did realize Tori’s true identity and created the role of Donna Martin just for her!
Didn’t Age Well
Gabrielle Carteris was 29 years old when she started playing the 16 year old Andrea Zuckerman on “Beverly Hills, 90210.” After the fifth season, her age difference became way too obvious for producers to keep her on as a college freshman and her contract was not renewed. But she did make a few guest appearances in later seasons!
Luke Perry had auditioned for the role of Steve Sanders, but the role eventually went to Ian Ziering. Perry was then cast as Dylan McKay. Perry’s character was not an original cast member of the show and was first featured in the show’s second episode. Dylan was originally intended to only appear in one story arc for just a few episodes, but teen girls all over America demanded more!
Location, Location, Location
During the 10 years “Beverly Hills, 90210” was in production it was filmed in a warehouse complex in Van Nuys, California and the interiors of the series as well as the exteriors of the Peach Pit parking lot and P.P.A.D. club entrance were all located off the 15000 block of Calvert St in Van Nuys, California.
Home Sweet Home
Many location changes were made after the pilot episode. The producers first used a location that was used only once during the pilot episode for the Walsh house that was located in a gated community of Brentwood, California. After the pilot episode the Walsh house was moved to Altadena, California.
Beverly Hills High School is actually located in the ZIP code 90212. There are three zip codes in Beverly Hills and the most affluent homes lie within the mostly residential 90210, while the high school does not. The filming location for West Beverly High School was in the middle class community of Torrance, California at Torrance High School located in the 90501 zip code.
Ratings Up and Down
“Beverly Hills, 90210” had a poor first season, ratings-wise, however the seasonal average rating per episode increased and was maintained above 11% from Season two until Season five, meaning that the departure of Shannen Doherty at the end of the fourth season did not actually affect the ratings, like many thought!
Blondes Have More Fun
“Beverly Hills, 90210” was responsible for some of the trendiest hairstyles of the 1990s, most notably was the bleach blonde hair and dark roots that Jennie Garth and Tori Spelling sported, leaving poor Shannen Doherty as the only true brunette (Gabrielle Carteris had blonde highlights).
Ratings Slow Down
The show ratings from season six until the end of the show gradually decreased. The nail in the show’s coffin was in the early ninth season with the departures of Jason Priestley and Tiffani Thiessen. After this, no episode gained any ratings and average ratings tumbled at 6.9% in season nine and 5.9% in the last season. The last rating increase would be its last, that being the show’s finale which yielded a commendable ratings increase.
Driving While… ?
Jason Priestley crashed his car into a pole in 1999 and was arrested under suspicion of drunk driving. Priestley was released on $50,000 bail. Jason claimed he swerved to miss a deer! The incident went totally against Jason’s carefully crafted good boy / boy-next-door persona… maybe he was a bad boy all along?
The Need For Speed
Jason Priestley’s driving drama with the law didn’t curb his automotive enthusiasm, instead Jason Priestley began a career as a professional race car driver. He wasn’t that bad either, when sober, and even won a 1998 Grand-Am race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
On August 11, 2002, Jason Priestley was seriously injured during a practice run at the Kentucky Speedway when his Indy Pro Series car crashed into a wall at nearly 180 miles per hour. Priestley has been involved in several other crashes, like when he crashed a powerboat during a Miami race, leaving one of his crew members with cracked ribs and in 1999 when he totaled a Porsche in a Hollywood crash that broke a friend’s arm.
Shannen’s Cancer Diagnosis
In 2016, Shannen revealed that the breast cancer she had been diagnosed with in 2015 had spread. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, she explained “I had breast cancer that spread to the lymph nodes, and from one of my surgeries we discovered that some of the cancer cells might have actually gone out of the lymph nodes.” So far, she has completed three out of eight rounds of chemotherapy.
Tori Loves Who?
Tori Spelling married actor and playwright Charlie Shanian in 2004 in a lavish million-dollar ceremony. They couple separated in October 2005 with Shanian citing irreconcilable differences. The divorce was finalized on April 20, 2006 and Tori Spelling went on to marry Dean McDermott less than a month later, on May 7, 2006.
Gimme Gimme More!
Tori Spelling was supposed to inherit a large portion of her father’s $500 million estate after his death in 2006. The estate was to be divided primarily between Tori, her brother Randy, and their mother Candy. With Candy Spelling being the estate executor and she and Tori Spelling being estranged, Tori inherited a meager $800,000! Now that’s a slap in the face from Mom!
Spell It Out…In A Book
In Tori Spelling’s sixth book, Spelling It Like It Is, Spelling admitted to having financial troubles, due to the cancellation of her reality series, poor real estate decisions, and a difficult fourth pregnancy, during which she was hospitalized for ten weeks. In explanation, Spelling said, “…as my real estate obsession persists, it’s starting to look more compulsive. Moving is expensive, and I’ve put us in a precarious financial situation.”
Jennie In Love?
In 1995, Jennie Garth met her second husband, actor Peter Facinelli. Garth and Facinelli married on January 20, 2001, in a traditional Roman Catholic ceremony and although there was no requirement to do so, Jennie Garth converted to Catholicism to marry Peter Facinelli!
Jennie + Peter + Children = Divorce
Jennie Garth and Peter Facinelli have three daughters: Luca Bella, Lola Ray, and Fiona Eve. However, the family bliss did not last and in March 2012, Peter Facinelli filed for divorce and the divorce was finalized in June 2013. Like Garth, Facinelli was a 1990s teen heart throb with appearances in films like Can’t Hardly Wait.
Dancing With A 1990s Star
Ian Ziering was a celebrity dancer on Season 4 of “Dancing with the Stars” with professional dance partner Cheryl Burke. Ziering and Burke made it to the semi-final round of Season 4, and received a perfect score from the judges for one of the two dances in the semi-finals, but it was not enough to reach the finals. The dance couple were eliminated during the results show the next day!
90210 vs. Dynasty
“Beverly Hills, 90210” is the longest-running show produced by Aaron Spelling and in fact it aired slightly longer than Spelling’s other very famous television show “Dynasty.” “Beverly Hills, 90210” was such an American cultural phenomenon that in 2008 the series was revived for a whole new generation!
Ian In Love?
Ian Ziering married Playboy model Nikki Schieler in July 1997. The couple filed for divorce in February 2002, citing irreconcilable differences. Nikki has since said that the separation was a battlefield, and that she was not given any support or help moving out of their home.
Ian Tries Again
On February 3, 2010, Ian Ziering announced his engagement to Erin Ludwig and the couple married at a ceremony in Newport Beach, California on May 28, 2010. Ziering and Ludwig went on to have two children. After “Beverly Hills, 90210,” Ian Ziering had a multiple-year career lull until he starred in the super popular Sharknado!