William J. Bell
||This article possibly contains original research. (November 2013)|
|William J. Bell|
|Born||William Joseph Bell
March 6, 1927
|Died||April 29, 2005
Los Angeles, California
|Years active||1956–1998 (as a writer)
1973-2005 (as a producer)
|Spouse(s)||Lee Phillip Bell
(1954-2005; his death)
|Children||William J. Bell, Jr.
William Joseph "Bill" 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.
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.
Procter and Gamble Productions
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.
Days of our Lives
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 Restless
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 to 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. 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 Beautiful
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.
Awards and recognition
- In 1992, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 19th annual Daytime Emmy Awards.
Criticism and controversy
- In 1977, Bell penned a "lesbian" storyline which involved Katherine Chancellor. It was scrapped due to a significant decline in ratings.
Producing and writing credits
- Co-Head Writer: May 1964 - March 1965
- Co-Head Writer: 1965-1966
- Writer: 1950s-1960s
- Creator (with Lee Phillip Bell)
- Executive Producer: March 23, 1987 - Spring 1996 (with Lee Phillip Bell)
- Head Writer: March 23, 1987–Spring 1993
- Head Writer: 1966-1975
- Writer: 1950s
- Executive Producer: March 26, 1973 – 1976, January 2004-April 2005
- Senior Executive Producer: 1976 - January 2004
- Head Writer: March 26, 1973 - July 1998
- Executive Story Consultant: 1998 - April 2005
Head writing tenures
|Co-Head Writer of Another World
with Irna Phillips
|Co-Head Writer of As the World Turns
with Irna Phillips
Kenneth M. Rosen
|Head Writer of Days of our Lives
Pat Falken Smith
|Head Writer of The Young and the Restless
(with Kay Alden from 1997-1998)
|Head Writer of The Bold and the Beautiful
|Wikinews has related news: Soap opera writer, creator William J. Bell dies at 78|
Bell currently holds the distinction of having created the largest number of soap opera characters who are still appearing on the air, with 26 characters on either The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful, or Days of Our Lives:
- Doug Williams (Days of our Lives) - 1970-1984, 1986–1987, 1993–1996, 1999–present (played by Bill Hayes)
- Jill Foster Abbott (The Young and the Restless) - 1973–present (currently played by Jess Walton)
- Maggie Horton (Days of our Lives) - 1973-1984, 1985–present (played by Suzanne Rogers)
- Hope Brady (Days of our Lives) - 1974–present (currently played by Kristian Alfonso)
- Paul Williams (The Young and the Restless) - 1978–present (played by Doug Davidson)
- Nikki Newman (The Young and the Restless) - 1978–present (currently played by Melody Thomas Scott)
- Victor Newman (The Young and the Restless - 1980-2009, 2010–present (played by Eric Braeden)
- Jack Abbott (The Young and the Restless) - 1980–present (currently played by Peter Bergman)
- Esther Valentine (The Young and the Restless) - 1982–present (played by Kate Linder)
- Traci Abbott (The Young and the Restless) - 1982-1996, 1999, 2001–02, 2006, 2007–present (played by Beth Maitland)
- Victoria Newman (The Young and the Restless) - 1982–present (currently played by Amelia Heinle)
- Lauren Fenmore (The Young and the Restless) - 1983-1995, 2000, 2001–present (played by Tracey E. Bregman)
- Nina Webster (The Young and the Restless) - 1986-2001, 2008, 2009–present (played by Tricia Cast)
- Eric Forrester (The Bold and the Beautiful) - 1987–present (played by John McCook)
- Brooke Logan (The Bold and the Beautiful) - 1987–present (played by Katherine Kelly Lang)
- Donna Logan (The Bold and the Beautiful) - 1987-94, 1996–98, 2000–01, 2004, 2006–present (currently played by Jennifer Gareis)
- Katie Logan (The Bold and the Beautiful) - 1987-1989, 1991–2004, 2007–present (currently played by Heather Tom)
- Nicholas Newman (The Young and the Restless) - 1989–present (currently played by Joshua Morrow)
- Taylor Hayes (The Bold and the Beautiful) - 1990-2002, 2004, 2005–present (played by Hunter Tylo)
- Rick Forrester (The Bold and the Beautiful) - 1990-2006, 2007–present (currently played by Jacob Young)
- Neil Winters (The Young and the Restless) - 1991–present (played by Kristoff St. John)
- Michael Baldwin (The Young and the Restless) - 1991-1993, 1997–present (played by Christian LeBlanc)
- Billy Abbott (The Young and the Restless) - 1993-2003, 2006, 2008–present (currently played by Billy Miller (actor))
- Sharon Newman (The Young and the Restless) - 1994–present (currently played by Sharon Case)
- Adam Newman (The Young and the Restless) - 1995-1998, 2008–present (currently played by Michael Muhney)
- Lily Winters (The Young and the Restless) - 1995-1998, 2002–present (currently played by Christel Khalil)
- William J. Bell at the Internet Movie Database
- William J. Bell interview video at the Archive of American Television