He never appeared on The Young and the Restless despite taping a cameo role on the show in 1991, but the late William J. Bell was the creator of the top-rated serial. He passed away in 2005, but had he lived he’d be celebrating his 91st birthday today!
Bell began his soap career in the 1950s after he convinced soap legend Irna Phillips, creator of The Guiding Light and As the World Turns, among other shows, to hire him as a writer.
He studied under Phillips for many years. Together, they wrote ATWT and co-created Another World. Later, branched out on his own to become top scribe at Days of Our Lives.
Bell saved DAYS from cancellation with his storytelling, mixing Phillips’ traditional tales with provocative new angles like Bill Horton (Ed Mallory) sleeping with Laura Spencer (Susan Flannery), who was engaged to Bill’s brother Mickey (John Clarke).
After taking DAYS to No. 1 in the ratings, Bell and his wife Lee Phillip Bell, created Y&R for CBS. The ground-breaking serial became the top-rated soap in 1988. CBS already knew they had a winner in Bell and invited him to create The Bold and the Beautiful, which debuted in 1987.
The Bells’ three children – Bill Bell, Bradley Bell, and Lauralee Bell — have all taken on roles in daytime. Bill works in the business end; Brad serves as head writer and executive producer of B&B; and Lauralee plays Chris on Y&R.
Soap Hub’s own Michael Maloney wrote (along with Lee Bell) Bill’s biography, The Young and Restless Life of William J. Bell, which was published in 2012.
The tome details Bell’s childhood in Chicago, his days as an advertising executive in Chicago, his unparalleled run as a soap creator and show runner, and his untimely passing from Alzheimer’s disease.