With five unforgettable numbers, it’s hard to imagine a zip code more rarefied than “90210.” It remains one of the biggest shows to ever take over a state. From casting surprises to hidden secrets the actors kept from the showrunners, there are lots of fun facts and trivia to discover about this TV phenomenon.
Who Are You Calling Daddy’s Girl?
Tori Spelling is best known for her role as the stylish Donna Martin in the hit TV show "Beverly Hills, 90210." However, many may not know that Tori initially auditioned for the part of Andrea Zuckerman, the shy and awkward journalist. She learned about the auditions through her agent, rather than her father, Aaron Spelling, who produced the show.
In fact, Tori used a different name during her audition, and her father only found out about her casting much later. This is a testament to Tori's talent, as she secured the role based on her own abilities, without any help or nepotism from her famous father.
Darren Star, the creator of the iconic TV series "Beverly Hills 90210," had originally planned to pay homage to his hometown with the show's name. During the development phase, he named it "Potomac 20854", after the place where he grew up. However, before the show's release, he decided to change the title to something more fitting for the California-based setting of the show.
Star believed that California had a unique natural energy that would be perfect for the show, and thus the iconic title "Beverly Hills 90210" was born. The decision proved to be a wise one, as the show went on to become a cultural phenomenon that still resonates with audiences today.
Few of the characters on "Beverly Hills 90210" reached the popularity of bad boy Dylan McKay. Viewers tuned in every week to see how his on again, off again relationship with Brenda would develop. Surprisingly, he almost disappeared after only the second episode! Imagine!
Fox network wanted him gone, but producer Aaron Spelling was having none of it. He enjoyed Luke Perry's acting and the character so much he offered to pay the actor's salary himself rather than watch him go – and just like that, a 90's teen idol was born. Why Fox wanted the character gone is still a mystery.
Shannen Doherty's Messed Up Audition
The other half of the famous relationship including Dylan McKay was Brenda Walsh, played by Shannen Doherty. It is impossible to imagine anyone else playing this raven-haired beauty, but Shannen was astounded she ended up getting the part.
She bombed her addition – in her own words, it was “horrible.” She walked out thinking she had blown her shot at fame, but before she could even drive away, the casting director told her not to count herself out just yet. Somehow, Shannen got the part. Were they looking for someone who doesn't wilt under adversity? Were there no other actors?
Ditching Hilary Swank
Which big name used to be part of this big show? None other than Hilary Swank. The Oscar-winner was supposed to appear in "Beverly Hills 90210" for a total of two seasons. However, she only managed to get in front of the camera for sixteen episodes before her character was written out of the show.
Swank took it really hard, but she ended up getting the better end of the deal – she was soon given the lead role of "Boys Don't Cry," about the trans man Brandon Teena, which led to her getting an Academy Award. She arguably became the most successful actor out of anyone on the show.
The Cast Was Always Incomplete
While tuning into any random episode of Beverly Hills means that you will end up seeing most of the main cast, there is a good chance that you will not see them all. This was surely an annoying thing for some viewers, but another thing that many would probably not notice.
No single actor or actress appeared in every episode. While they were pretty much a permanent fixture on our screens during the show's running, only four members of the main cast – Donna, Kelly, David, and Steve – were in all ten seasons. Actor availability, the storylines, and even the actors that were let go led to this interesting piece of trivia.
"Beverly Hills 90210" featured what were some of the most attractive people to act in front of a camera at the time it was filmed. It was a pretty good bet that even when the cameras stopped rolling, things remained pretty steamy. It almost didn't seem real that everyone on the show could be so darn attractive.
Actor Jason Priestly has said that “various combinations” of people shacked up during the years of filming. Actress Tori Spelling echoed the thoughts, revealing she had a summer fling with one of her co-stars. However, Tori is staying tight-lipped about just which of the hunks was lucky enough to earn her affection.
A Diva Attitude
It is safe to say that cast members on the set of "Beverly Hills 90210" didn't always get along so well. After all, they were all pretty young at the time. There was plenty more behind-the-scenes action that wasn't as lovey-dovey. Shannen Doherty quickly earned a reputation as a diva when she complained about having a normal taxi instead of a limo for promos.
She even had a years-long feud with fellow actress Jennie Garth. Their on-screen characters were conflicted as well. It's been said the two have since repaired their relationship. Doherty also often showed up late to showings, much to the frustration of producer Aaron Spelling.
Pilot episodes are often strange thanks to a shift in writing, a switch in details, and a change in actors. It always seems to be the case. And such was the case with "Beverly Hills 90210." The original actor for the father of twins Brandon and Brenda was Lyman Ward. He is best known as Ferris Bueller's father in the eighties movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."
However, he was replaced – James Eckhouse became Jim Walsh for the rest of the series. They even reshot Ward's pilot scenes with Eckhouse standing in. All this happened before the show even aired, so few knew about this last-second casting.
Age Is but a Number!
When Gabrielle Carteris won the role of sixteen-year-old Andrea Zuckerman on "Beverly Hills 90210," she hid an important piece of information: she was almost thirty. Still, she was able to land the part and all was well... until Carteris got pregnant. There always seems to be a twist in the tale, right?
The writers decided to simplify things by making her character get pregnant as well. It wasn't the first time writers had to do some tricky thinking to work around a cast member's personal life, and it won't be the last. Carteris isn't even the only member of the cast to lie about age!
90210 Almost Had Drew Barrymore or Alicia Silverstone
Shannen Doherty's diva antics finally reached a breaking point, and she was dropped from the show at the end of season three. In order to fill the hole her character had left, the producers knew they had to cast big.
The new character of Valeria Malone was first offered to Alicia Silverstone, then Drew Barrymore, then Alyssa Milano. However, none of them ended up in the role, which eventually went to Tiffani Amber Thiessen. This didn't exactly please her boyfriend Brian Austin Green, who played David Silver. Austin didn't want Malone to get together with anyone from the male cast.
The Magic Trio
One of the long-running conflicts on the show was the animosity between Dylan McKay and his father Jack. Believe it or not, three different actors provided their skills to create Jack McKay. It began with Terence Ford (Harrison Ford's brother), followed by "Independence Day" actor Arthur Brooks.
They both put their spin on the wealthy businessman with a shady past. Finally, "Days of Our Lives" actor Josh Taylor stepped in until the character was killed off in a car explosion, shortly after Jack and Dylan made up. A car bomb? Really? Man, this show got wild. You could even say that it "jumped the shark."
Writing Scott Out
The geeky Scott Scanlon – at least, geeky by the show's standards – was played by Douglas Emerson. Scott was David Silver's friend and voice of reason when David was working on the many different schemes he attempted in order to rise in popularity. Did it work though?
Producers originally intended for Scott to stay around for the majority of the show, but Emerson had a different plan. He wanted to attend college and then join the US Air Force. The writers gave Scott a dramatic exit, and the character ended up dying in a firearm accident at his own birthday party.
How the Gulf War Helped Ratings
The show may be well-known because of the young antics of its high school characters, but it began as a family drama, mainly about Brandon and Brenda. Soon enough, exterior factors played a part in the show's rise to success - most notably, the Gulf War.
In a strange twist of fate, the first episode to focus more on the high school characters was aired the day the Gulf War began. While most networks covered the conflict, Fox – at the time, of course – had no news shows, and so "Beverly Hills 90210" was one of the few primetime shows on TV. Ratings skyrocketed.
The Age of Innocence
We already know that producer Aaron Spelling had nothing to do with Tori Spelling's casting, but he exerted plenty of fatherly pressure on the show. Fellow producers have said that he demanded Tori's character Donna to stay a virgin until she – Donna – graduated from college. Seemed like a reasonable request, right?
Aaron also had Donna's abusive boyfriend Ray written out of the show before the actor's contract ended. Plenty of people had been saying Donna should not be with him, and apparently, Aaron agreed. We can only hope and pray that he did it all out of fatherly love.
Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow!
To be honest, Shannen Doherty's diva behavior certainly put her on a short leash, but it was not what got her fired – it was actually her hair. She got her hair cut during the filming of a season finale, which meant the show's continuity was all off.
This meant that plenty of work had to be done for it to make sense. Doherty herself has admitted it was one of the big reasons for her firing and even ended up saying that the producers were right to do so. Ultimately though, Doherty ended up in "Charmed," so all was well with the world.
Going to School With Buffy
Torrance High School in California is famous. Not only did "Beverly Hills 90210" film there, but so did a number of other shows, including "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Medium," and "The Secret Life of the American Teenager." It's a real classic L.A. TV show location.
It even had appearances in several movies, such as "The Wild Life," "Not Another Teen Movie," "Cursed," and "Bruce Almighty." While not many shots were taken inside the building, the grounds and facade are often featured. Imagine "Buffy" meeting the cast of "90210" – now that's a crossover event for the ages. Which "90210" character works best as a vampire?
The Walshes' Real Home
The whole point of the show is the idea of a couple of midwest kids – Brandon and Brenda from Minneapolis, Minnesota – feeling out of place among the cream of the crop. That's what "Beverly Hills 90210" is all about when you get down to brass tacks.
However, information gleaned from exterior shots of their home makes it seem like the Walshes actually live in Altadena, California — more than thirty miles away. We can forgive the producers a little bit of fudging, though. After all, "Altadena 91001" doesn't exactly have the same kind of pop when we're talking about titles.
Jason Priestley Was Added Last Minute
When you think of the TV show "Beverly Hills 90210", it's hard not to picture the charming face of Jason Priestley. Surprisingly, Priestley was the last cast member to be added to the show. He auditioned for the role of Brandon Walsh and landed the part in record time.
After auditioning on a Thursday, he was offered the job the very next day, and filming began just three days later, on a Monday. It just goes to show how talented and charming Priestley was and how quickly he was able to make such an impact on the show and become a fan-favorite heartthrob.
The sunny backdrop of Beverly Hills in the hit show "Beverly Hills 90210" may make you wonder why none of the characters ever wear sunglasses. The answer lies with producer Aaron Spelling, who had a strict rule against cast members donning shades. In fact, he disliked sunglasses almost as much as he disliked last-minute haircuts.
According to his daughter Tori, Spelling believed that viewers should be able to see into the character's eyes during conversations to experience the raw, genuine emotion. As a result, the show features plenty of scenes of the cast squinting in the California sunshine. Despite the challenge, the actors managed to convey their emotions effectively.
Valerie Malone's Hand Double
Playing the role of the bad girl Valerie Malone in "Beverly Hills 90210," actress Tiffani Thiessen faced a unique challenge when it came to her character's smoking scenes. While filming a scene that required her to roll a cigarette, the actress was unable to do so. This posed a problem, as the script called for her character to smoke "the devil's collard greens" at the Walsh's house.
As a solution, the producers filmed someone else's hands rolling the joint for her. Despite this minor hiccup, Thiessen's portrayal of the rebellious Valerie was convincing and added a layer of intrigue to the show, making her a polarizing character among fans.
The Cast Was Actually Shouting Something Much Ruder Than Their Lines!
At one point in the series, Donna Martin's classmates all began shouting that she should be allowed to graduate alongside them. The character was originally not allowed because she had gotten drunk at her prom, and the cast members all shouted “Donna Martin graduates.” At least, that's what we hear.
Jason Priestly revealed they were actually shouting other rhyming prophanities. A little bit of editing magic was worked in, and audiences were none the wiser. Donna Martin was allowed to graduate alongside her friends after all, despite this rather rude declaration. It just goes to show how powerful the editing process can be.
Team Brandon All the Way
One of the biggest details of "90210" is the love triangle between Kelly Taylor and her two potential guys, Brandon and Dylan. These best friends spent the entire run of the show competing for Kelly's affection, eventually deciding on Dylan.
Many fans thought she was wrong, including Dylan's actor Luke Perry. In an interview, Perry said he thought Dylan was too unstable for Kelly, and that Dylan should have “fallen on the sword” and given Brandon the go-ahead. It would have been a big shift to the character but could have created one of the most famous moments in the show.
Lucky Number Five
The very first member of the main cast to land a spot was Jennie Garth, who played Brenda's best friend Kelly Taylor. Her casting was not all that breezy though. She had to audition five times before landing the part. The fifth time was the charm for Jennie as well as the producers.
Jennie's – and thus Kelly's – ability to give important and tricky subjects the gravity they deserved ended up making her one of the most popular characters on the show. She was one of the few to appear in all ten seasons. Now that's an impressive fact, if we do say so ourselves.
Ian Ziering and the Trashed Dressing Room
It isn't just the rock stars who will take their anger or energy out on their dressing room. Ian Ziering once had a powerful moment of his own when he found out so many of his scenes had been left on the cutting room floor.
There was one episode where his character, Steve Sanders, was accused of harassment. While Ziering thought he had brought his A-game, the producers brought the scissors to the editing room. Ziering, feeling betrayed, took his anger out on his dressing room in a fit of artistic rage. Actors can be so passionate about there work, as displayed in this wild behind-the-scenes moment.
Did Tori Spelling Get Shannen Doherty Fired?
We already know about the wild things Shannen got up to before being fired, but rumors still fly as to what the real reason was. Tori Spelling seems to think it was her fault. Spelling was the main pipeline to her father, the show's main producer, about what Doherty was getting up to behind the scenes.
Doherty has certainly admitted to being the show's biggest back stage brat. Still, Spelling has always felt that the things she told her father contributed to the greater pressure and scrutiny on Doherty, which eventually led to her firing. That guilt still ways on her until this very day.
Luke Perry Could Have Played Steve
Luke Perry became one of the teen heartthrobs of the nineties. He played bad boy Dylan, the kind of guy you can not take home to mom because she might steal him. However, Perry originally auditioned for rich brat Steve Sanders, believe it or not.
The casting directors definitely got it right, though, when they decided to have Perry play Dylan, and let Ian Ziering have the part of Sanders. Both characters changed over the course of ten years of "Beverly Hills 90210," and both got the chance to show their sensitive sides too. They went on true character arcs.
No Farewell Part for Priestley
After spending nine years of his life playing the lead character Brandon, Jason Priestly had also gotten a taste of producing and directing TV as time went on. Despite these accolades, his last day on the show actually left him with a sour feeling.
When his final scene was done, he gave farewell hugs to members of the cast and crew, packed up all his stuff, and got in his car. There was no party, no big speeches, or anything else. He said he felt like he had wasted nine years of his life – but he could have stayed longer.
The Peach Pit was one of the most well known settings from the show — a diner and favorite hangout of all the characters. According to executive producer Charles Rosin, the setting was based on a real diner called The Apple Pan in West Los Angeles. A lot of "Beverly Hills 90210" took place in that diner.
While The Peach Pit is pure fiction, The Apple Pan is still around. As musician Tori Amos says, it even serves the best burgers in the world! What fan of the show didn't want to spend an afternoon with all the characters chowing down on some delicious food?
Lying by Omission
Other than Gabrielle Carteris who played Andrea, there is another famous face who was much older than the character he played. Ian Ziering chose not to tell producers his real age when he auditioned for the part of sixteen-year-old Steve Sanders. He was twenty-eight, but that question went unasked.
He later said that during the audition for "Beverly Hills 90210," he was thinking: “If they're going to buy it, I'm going to sell it!” He sold it well enough, and the producers, as well as audiences all around the world, bought it. The rest was history, and played that character so convincingly.
Tori Spelling Acted as Peacemaker
Jennie Garth and Shannen Doherty had legendary battles on set, and it usually fell to Tori Spelling to break it off before things escalate. Garth says that Doherty never kept her ideas to herself, even though Garth relates she never did it very nicely.
They may have acted like best friends – or at least frenemies – on the show, but putting teenager actresses together and you'll often find flying sparks. Spelling tried her hardest to smooth things over, but more often than not failed. Doherty and Garth have since made up, and they might have Spelling to thank for whatever remained of their relationship.
Pitt and Priestley
The friendship between Jason Priestley and Luke Perry was a match made in bromance heaven. Did you know there was an even more legendary friendship brewing behind the scenes? It turns out Priestley was rooming with none other than future megastar Brad Pitt while he was filming the show. Pitt may have even tried out for the show!
Pitt probably didn't mind that much, since it was during that time he landed a big break as Geena Davis's love interest in " Thelma and Louise." The rest is Hollywood history and Pitt would go on to star in classics such as "Se7en," "Fight Club," and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," to name a few.
The Cast Thought the Show Would Fail
Truth be told, "Beverly Hills 90210" wasn't a hit when it first aired, and even the cast members thought they would soon be looking for work. James Eckhouse, who played Mr. Walsh, says he and Priestly had bets with each other on when the show would get cut from the lineup. We're dead serious.
Zuckerman assumed she would have to get a waitressing job, and Ziering thought the show was too “superficial.” Thankfully, they all turned out to be wrong, superficial or not – the show lasted ten whole seasons and was one of the biggest television hits of the nineties.
Luke Perry Almost Quit Acting
When he went to read for the part of Steve Sanders, Luke Perry was a construction worker. When the producers told him he wasn't right for the role, Perry was so discouraged that he almost gave up his acting career for good. To think that Perry would be on "90210" is crazy.
Thankfully, the producers were still trying to find the right person for the role of Dylan, the squinting, cute-as-a-button bad boy. They called Perry back and had him read as Dylan, and a star was born. The construction industry may have lost a hard worker, but the show gained a standout.
Jason Priestley Would Have Stayed for Kelly
Fans of the show around the world cried out when cutie Jason Priestly said sayonara, deciding not to reprise his role of Brandon after season nine. The creators had to find a way to remove Brandon from the show, eventually turning the character into a working journalist.
However, Priestly has admitted he wishes he had stayed on "Beverly Hills 90210." He said that Aaron Spelling was pushing the storyline in a way that would have stopped Brandon and Kelly from getting together. Had Spelling gone with Brandon, Priestly was much more likely to stay. Happily ever after is always preferable.
Missed Her Chance
Shannen Doherty was not the first actress to be offered the spot of Brenda Walsh on "Beverly Hills 90210." That award goes to Kristin Dattilo, who actually turned down the role of Brenda for reasons unknown. She ended up playing a one-off character named Melissa Coolidge, who appeared in season one.
Gabrielle Carteris, who played Andrea, was also up for the Brenda role before producers decided she would be better as Andrea. Kristin went on to have plenty of credits to her name, both as a lead actress and in guest spots. She was even in an episode of "Friends."
The Producer's Biggest Regret
Despite the success of "Beverly Hills 90210," producer Aaron Spelling had one major regret about the show. He acknowledged that the all-white cast was a significant flaw, especially for a series that tackled sensitive and controversial issues. The absence of diversity in the cast stands out as a negative aspect of the show, and Spelling knew it.
Even the spinoff series "Melrose Place" struggled with representation, featuring only a single black character who disappeared due to a lack of storyline. While the show remains a beloved classic, its lack of diversity serves as a reminder that progress must always be made towards inclusivity in media.
The Curse of 90210
The cast has seen many tragedies: Luke Perry died of a fatal stroke the very same day the reboot version of the show was announced. Shannen Doherty has been battling breast cancer. Tori Spelling has had developed wild spending habits, and was hilariously forced to reign them in when her husband Dean McDermott was unable to afford a vasectomy.
Jason Priestly got into a bad car crash while driving under the influence, Jennie Garth was diagnosed with a leaky heart valve, and Brian Austin Green had a tumultuous separation. Ian Ziering has also broken up with a few of his significant others. They have been through a lot.
Young Character, Old Actors
While some cast members played a character much younger than themselves, others really were near high school age. The youngest of them was Doug Emerson, who was sixteen. Then there were Tori Spelling and Brian Austin Green, who were both seventeen when the show started, which is bizarre when you think about it.
Jennie Garth was eighteen, Shannen Doherty was nineteen, and then things start to go off the rails. Jason Priestly was twenty-one, and Luke Perry was twenty-three. For reference, the actor and actress playing the Walsh parents were thirty-five (James Eckhouse) and forty-two (Carol Potter). So they did take some aging liberties.
In 2016, Gabrielle Carteris became the president of the SAG-AFTRA, the Screen Actor's Guild, and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. One of her very first causes was to sponsor California Bill AB 1687, which would require entertainment websites and databases to remove actors' ages if they request it.
The bill would help to prevent age discrimination in Hollywood and other areas. We can't help but think this has something to do with all the ribbing she took acting someone half her age. Not to mention the other age discrepancies that actors faced while on the show "Beverly Hills 90210."
Why So Serious?
As the show went on, Luke Perry smiled less and less in the opening credits. In the first season, the credits only used stock footage from the filmed episodes, and in the second and third seasons, Luke Perry is sporting an ear-to-ear smile.
In the fourth season, Perry has a small grin with a closed mouth, and in season five his character is giving the camera an approving yet unsmiling look. He's changed to a poker face by season six. Some have suspected that this gradual change may be a foreshadowing of Perry's leaving the show for more serious roles.
Darren Star, the creator of "Beverly Hills, 90210", was only twenty-seven years old when Fox told him they wanted to create a series about teenagers in Beverly Hills. Surely enough, like any talented filmmaker, he took inspiration from other shows and films that came before.
Star wanted the show to focus on real issues teenagers faced and used a few famous pieces of media to build his framework. The first was "Thirtysomething," which featured issues involving teens and their lives. The other was John Hughes movies such as "The Breakfast Club," which had teens' points of view as they worked out their own problems.
That's How You Know You Hit it Big
As the show rose in popularity, it attracted more attention, even from the kinds of people you do not want to look your way. Actress Jennie Garth recalled that, at one point, they even had a bomb threat. The show got so big that the cast and crew sometimes had security problems on set.
During a season finale, in which the characters graduated from high school, someone hid an explosive device under the bleachers. While this shook the actors and crew, Jennie Garth said she knew they had made it if someone had the nerve to do that. For weeks afterward, security was heightened with young police officers hired as extras.
Donna Martin's role grew from more minor appearances as the show continued, and the producers made some changes to her as the show progressed. While she's known as Donna Martin, a season one episode has the character audition to be the school's DJ, using the name Donna Morgan.
In addition, Donna's mother's name was Nancy – played by Jordana Capra – while in season two and beyond the name was Felice, played by Katherine Cannon. Perhaps there's a story that was hidden between the lines the entire time...what happened to the first mother, and why did Donna change her name?
Just the One
While the show is remembered fondly by almost everyone now, it did not exactly light up the awards circuit at the time. It did receive four Golden Globe nominations, though – two for Jason Priestly and two for “Best Television Series – Drama.” So it did get some awards love.
The single Emmy nomination it got wasn't even one of the main cast: Milton Berle was nominated for “Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series''. He came on as Saul Howard, an ex-entertainer in the senior home where Steve performs community service. Berle lost the award to Paul Winfield, acting on an episode of "Picket Fences."
Putting Off College
Apparently, Tori Spelling put off going to college to act on the show. She kept telling herself to put it off another year, never expecting the show to go as long as it did. USC waited year after year for the show to end and for Spelling to start attending classes, but the show just kept on going.
“I'll go when I'm done,” Spelling told Entertainment Weekly in 2000. Of course, then the show ended up going on for ten years. By the time she was ready to get to work, Spelling was twenty-six...and she never actually went to college.
Another Reason to Fire Her
A lot was said about how Shannen Doherty got herself fired – showing up late on set, feuding with her co-stars, getting a haircut, and more – but apparently, she also wrecked Ian Ziering's car too. While driving too fast – with Ziering in the car – she drove it into a ditch, and Ziering's Corvette bottomed out.
Incredibly, Ziering and Doherty had a strong relationship – so strong, even, that Ziering took the blame for the crash. We hope that Doherty kept a handle on her diva behavior around Ziering because he seems like a cool guy, to be honest.
Jennie Garth has revealed – and gone into great detail about – her mental health. Becoming an overnight superstar at nineteen led her to extreme anxiety. It became difficult for her to even leave her house for groceries. She says in her book "Deep Thoughts From a Hollywood Blonde", that it was paralyzing. She began to have panic attacks, leading her to become even more withdrawn.
With the pressures of the show, producers, fellow cast members, and even fans and media, we can imagine anyone could crack. Thankfully, Garth has gotten the help she needed and has openly shared her story in order to help others.
I'm a Nice Guy! Really!
Jamie Walters played Donna's boyfriend Ray Pruit. When he was fired, it came at a spectacularly bad time. You see, Ray had just pushed Donna down the stairs. The problem is, so many people now saw Jamie Walters as his character. Not the apparently very nice and genial actor and musician he really was.
They ended up bringing him onto the show few more times after he pleaded with them, just so he could rehab his image. Ray Pruit went to therapy, got engaged, and even helped David out of a tight spot. All of that, just for the actor.