William J. Bell


William J. Bell

William Joseph Bell (March 6, 1927 – April 29, 2005) was the creator and executive producer of the extremely successful soap operas "The Young and the Restless" and "The Bold and the Beautiful".

He started out as a comedy writer at WBBM-TV in Chicago, and one day he made a call to Irna Phillips' secretary Rose Cooperman asking her "Does Irna have an opening?" Rose said Irna did have an opening. By the time he got there it turned out the guy who was leaving decided to stay. About two years later William J. Bell was in advertising business and he ran into Irna's niece. She mentioned him to Irna and Ms. Phillips remembered who he was; she also knew his wife, who was a celebrity in Chicago at that time. He started out at $75 a week and ended up living in what once was Howard Hawkes' villa. His mother regularly listened to radio soap operas: "Life Can Be Beautiful", "The Romance of Helen Trent", "Our Gal Sunday" and "Guiding Light". He started his writing career on "Guiding Light" and then moved over to "As the World Turns", working under the legendary "Queen of Soaps," Irna Phillips; Phillips' other protegee at the time was Agnes Nixon. Bell co-created "Another World" with Phillips in 1964. In 1965 he co-created the primetime "ATWT" spinoff "Our Private World".

In 1966, he was hired as head writer of the then-struggling soap "Days of Our Lives". Bell was credited with the show's initial surge of popularity. He stayed as head writer until 1975. He intended to leave several years earlier but the show sued him and he agreed to write long-term story projections for them.

In 1973, he created "The Young and the Restless". Although slow to rise in the ratings, "Y&R" was credited for breathing new life into the daytime serial, with its brightness, humor and cutting-edge storylines. Bell guided "Y&R" as head writer from 1973 until stepping down in 1998, the longest tenure of any head writer in soap opera history. "Y&R" has been the highest-rated soap on the air since 1988. In 1998 Bell relinquished most of his duties as head writer, serving only in a supervisory capacity.

In 1987, he created "The Bold and the Beautiful", which was known for its glamorous look as it was set in the fashion industry. It followed "Y&R" and has been a ratings success as well.

He was married to former talk show host Lee Phillip Bell, who co-created "Y&R" and "B&B" with him. Their three children, Bill Jr., Bradley, and Lauralee, are all involved in their parents' soaps in some capacity.

On April 29, 2005 Bell died from complications of Alzheimer's disease at age 78.


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