The Passing of a Legend

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Farewell Mr Bell

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Y&R's Bill Bell

Dear Suds Buds,

It’s rare to get network press releases on a Saturday.  But this past Saturday, all of soapdom was notified, by not one, not two, but three official sources, that William J. Bell, Co-Creator of the Young and the Restless and the Bold and the Beautiful had passed away due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease. 

At once shocked and heart broken, I set out to publish the announcement and the official obituary.  But it was as if my computer did all the work as I mulled the lifelong legacy of this great soap opera legend.  His career spans six decades. He's written over 15,000 episodes of drama series on two networks. He is credited with saving Days of our Lives in 1966.  After the show’s first 26 weeks, it was a ratings disaster and with the network threatening to cancel it, Bell was brought in and revamped the storylines and the characters, and over 40 years later, Days is still going strong.  In fact, Bell created the Young and the Restless, my mother’s all time favorite soap, with his wife, Lee Phillip Bell, while he was still at Days of our Lives.

I never got the opportunity to get to really know Bell, but Soapdom’s contributor, Mark Wilows was acquainted with Bell for over 15 years. I am turning over the Top of the Week this week to Wilows, who takes us Inside the Bubble on the man, his love of soaps and of his family.

To the surviving Bells, I extend my deepest sympathies.  Bill Bell may have left us for the great big soap opera in the sky, but his soaps, his stories and his characters will live on in our hearts forever.

Tribute to Y&R’s
William J. Bell

By Mark Edward Wilows

When I saw the news flash on Soapdom that William J. Bell passed away, it was like a moment of silence, disbelief, and the thought of the passing of not only a legend in the world of soaps, but of a great man.

Lee Phillip Bell, Bill Bell, Mark Wilows
and Lauralee Bell (Christine, Y&R)

I’ve known Bill along with his wife, Lee, and their children for about 15 years. I met them while working for Fox TV in Chicago. The Bell’s were in town for a “Summer of Soaps” series at the Museum of Broadcast Communications. I had the chance to interview them, and it was an instant friendship.

I remember Bill telling me to come out to Los Angeles and be on the Young and the Restless. My response was “Bill it’s the number one show and you want to keep it that way.”

He was a man, not only a business man, but a man of genuine quality and inspiration. It is probably because of Bill that today I’m still writing, and covering soaps for Soapdom and my many ventures (radio, TV, Newspapers) ,where I have become involved in the fascinating world of daytime drama.

Even though Bill was “The Man” of Daytime TV, he never came off with that persona. I’d call his home, Bill would answer, and he always had time for a few words. He was a man that had the quality of caring about people. He was also a family man that was proud of his wife, his children, and grandchildren. Lee and Bill were truly a couple in love. Everything was “honey this” and “honey that.”

He spent every wakening hour dedicated to his shows. I remember Emmy Award week in New York in 1994. I met Lee and Bill at the St. Regis Hotel. Lee and I walked into the room, and where was Bill? You guessed it! He had not even been out of his hotel room. In fact, it was around 2 PM and Lee asked him if he at least had some soup.

His dedication to his work and prolific storytelling shows each and everyday through the screen, and will continue to do so. Without a doubt, Bill’s legacy will live on. Not only through his family, but the millions of people Bill touched everyday through The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful.

I believe Bill summed it up best. “I’m here to inform, educate, and entertain.” And boy did he ever. Knowing Bill... he’s penning his next script in the great beyond. He was a man to be proud of, and I cherish the fact that in my life, I had the opportunity to meet and know this great human being.

Share Your Thoughts:

How have soaps impacted your life?  Do you have a fond memory to share about growing up with soaps?  Tell me on the Criticize the Critic Message Board.

Til the top of next week,

Linda Marshall-Smith
CEO, Soapdom, Inc.

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