Open main menu

William Joseph Bell (March 6, 1927 – April 29, 2005) was an American screenwriter and television producer, best known as the creator of the soap operas Another World, The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful.

William J. Bell
Bill Bell 2003.jpeg
William Joseph Bell

(1927-03-06)March 6, 1927
DiedApril 29, 2005(2005-04-29) (aged 78)
Occupationwriter, producer
Years active1956–1998 (as a writer)
1973–2005 (as a producer)
Lee Phillip Bell
(m. 1954; his death 2005)
ChildrenWilliam J. Bell, Jr.
Bradley Bell
Lauralee Bell


Personal lifeEdit

William J. Bell's grave

Bell was married to former talk show host Lee Phillip Bell, who co-created The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful with him. Their three children, Bill Jr., Bradley, and Lauralee, and daughter-in-law Maria Arena Bell are all involved in their parents' soaps in some capacity.

Brenda Dickson, an original cast member of The Young and The Restless, claims that Bell blacklisted her after 15 years on the show after they partook in a secret love affair. He then went on to wreak havoc on her personal and professional life by hiring "Mafia cartel judges and attorneys" to "ruin" her life.[1] As a result, she ended up "broke and homeless" and has been blocked from working ever since.[2][3]

On April 29, 2005, Bell died at age 78 from complications of Alzheimer's disease. He is buried at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Writing legacyEdit

Procter and Gamble ProductionsEdit

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 Hughes' villa. His mother regularly listened to radio soap operas: Life Can Be Beautiful, The Romance of Helen Trent, Our Gal Sunday and The Guiding Light.

He started his writing career on The 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 As the World Turns spinoff Our Private World.[citation needed]

Days of our LivesEdit

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. Bell changed the dynamics of soaps when he began focusing on sexuality. Formerly, soap operas did not delve into the sexual side of their romances. He intended to leave the show around 1972 when he began creating his own show The Young and the Restless, but the show sued him and he agreed to write long-term story projections for them. He remained as head writer until 1975.

The Young and the RestlessEdit

In 1972, CBS executives wanted a new daytime serial that was youth oriented. William along with his wife Lee Phillip Bell created The Young and the Restless for the network under the working title, The Innocent Years. However, before the show went into production, he had to rename the series as Bell mentioned..."We were confronted with the very disturbing reality that young America had lost much of its innocence,". "Innocence as we had known and lived it all our lives had, in so many respects, ceased to exist." They renamed the series to The Young and the Restless because they felt it "reflected the youth and mood of the early seventies." He spent between ten and sixteen hours a day writing stories.

The Young and the Restless debuted on March 26, 1973. Although slow to rise in the ratings (he got very frustrated and asked head of CBS Daytime Bud Grant to cancel the serial), CBS had faith in the show and gave it a chance. Y&R was credited for breathing new life into the daytime serial, with its brightness, humor and cutting-edge storylines.[citation needed] As he did on Days of our Lives, Bell saw to sexuality also playing a major role in the stories. 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 households, and 1989 among viewers.

The Bold and the BeautifulEdit

In 1986, he began working on creating another soap for CBS Daytime, but plans were halted until the end of the year when the network decided to cancel the soap Capitol and needed a replacement. He created The Bold and the Beautiful, which debuted on March 23, 1987. B&B is known for its glamorous look as it is set in the fashion industry. It followed Y&R and has been a ratings success as well.[citation needed]

Awards and recognitionEdit

Producing and writing creditsEdit

Another World

  • Co-Creator
  • Co-Head Writer: May 1964 - March 1965

As the World Turns

  • Co-Head Writer: 1965-1966
  • Writer: 1950s-1960s

The Bold and the Beautiful

Days of Our Lives

  • Head Writer: 1966-1975

Guiding Light

  • Writer: 1950s

Our Private World

  • Co-creator

The Young and the Restless - Creator (with Lee Phillip Bell)

Head writing tenuresEdit

Preceded by
Head Writer of Another World
(with Irna Phillips)

May 4, 1964 – March 1965
Succeeded by
James Lipton
Preceded by
Irna Phillips
Head Writer of As the World Turns
(with Irna Phillips)

1965 – 1966
Succeeded by
Katherine Babecki
Preceded by
Kenneth M. Rosen
Peggy Phillips
Head Writer of Days of Our Lives
July 5, 1966 – May 6, 1975
Succeeded by
Pat Falken Smith
Preceded by
Head Writer of The Young and the Restless
(with Kay Alden: 1997 – July 15, 1998)

March 26, 1973 – July 15, 1998
Succeeded by
Kay Alden
Preceded by
Head Writer of The Bold and the Beautiful
March 23, 1987 – 1993
Succeeded by
Bradley Bell

Executive producing tenureEdit

Preceded by
Executive Producer of The Young and the Restless
(with John Conboy: 1973 – 1982)
(with H. Wesley Kenney: 1982 – 1986)
(with Edward J. Scott: 1987 – 2001)
(with David Shaughnessy: 2001 – 2004)
(with John F. Smith: 2003 – April 29, 2005)

March 26, 1973 – April 29, 2005
Succeeded by
John F. Smith
Preceded by
Executive Producer of The Bold and the Beautiful
(with Lee Phillip Bell: 1988 – 1996)

March 23, 1987 – 1996
Succeeded by
Bradley Bell


Bell currently holds the distinction of having created the largest number of soap opera characters that are still appearing on the air, with 29 characters on either The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful, or Days of Our Lives:


  1. ^ Brenda Dickson (2013). "My True Hidden Hollywood Story", My Memoir of Sexual Harassment, Blacklisting, and Love Affairs with some of the most Powerful Men in Hollywood. Blue Boulevard Publications. ASIN B00C8T6Z7I.
  2. ^ Marcus, Stephanie (April 22, 2013). "'Young And The Restless' Star Claims She's Broke & Homeless". Huffington Post.
  3. ^

External linksEdit