James Spellman, Sr. was a Los Angeles-area realtor, technical advisor for film and television, and distinguished U.S. Air Force recruiter.
A native of Salem, Massachusetts and a nephew of the late Francis Cardinal Spellman, the popular Archbishop of New York and Military Vicar to the Armed Services during the 50s and 60s. He entered the U.S. Air Force in 1948. A veteran of the Korean conflict, his twenty-two year Air Force career included overseas tours to Okinawa, Frobisher Bay, Baffin Island, and Hawaii. His decorations included the Good Conduct Medal, U.N. Service Medal, American Defense Medal, Occupation Medal (Japan), Korean Service Medal, Longevity Service Award with five oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Commendation Medal, and Air Force Outstanding Service Award.
The governor and state civil defense director of New Jersey commended Mr. Spellman for his outstanding work on a special assignment with the Ground Observer Corps. However, he truly excelled in his nearly ten year career with the Air Force Recruiting Service. Winner of the Air Force "Top Tiger" trophy five of the six times it was awarded, Mr. Spellman was honored in 1964 as the best recruiter-salesman on the West Coast (an eight state area) -- a result of meeting more than 200 percent of his recruiting objective.
As a behind-the-scenes technical adviser to the Hollywood entertainment industry, Mr. Spellman was responsible for the accurate portrayal of Air Force service members in movies and television series such as "No Time for Sergeants," "I Dream of Jeannie," and "That Girl."
Before his retirement in 1970 as a master sargeant, Spellman was honored by the Air Force Association and Senator Barry Goldwater as the top non-commissioned officer in the state of California for all armed forces in 1969 and as the top recruiter for the U.S. Air Force throughout the United States.
In 1972, Mr. Spellman began his civilian career with Red Carpet Realtors and quickly became a Million Dollar Club member that same year. He advanced rapidly to vice president and director of public relations for Giant, Inc., the parent company of Red Carpet. During that time, he also became a prominent member of The Masquers Club -- Hollywood's oldest private theatrical club. He worked with celebrities such as Jimmy Stewart, Georgie Jessel, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Jim Backus, Gene Autry, former Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley and Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
Mr. Spellman also was a member of the Air Force Sergeants Association, Disabled American Veterans, AMVETS, the Navy League, Variety Arts Theatre of Hollywood and The Magic Castle. A Century Club member of the Simi Valley Boys and Girls Club, he also worked on fundraising campaigns for Toys for Tots, numerous golf tournaments and testimonial dinners for Hollywood celebrities and the U.S. armed forces, the Hollywood Christmas Parade, and Christmas parties for underprivileged and needy children.