The Young and Restless Life of William J. Bell: Creator of The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful


For the first time fans will be able to discover the true stories behind the creation and growth of the most popular and iconic soap operas of all time, and they'll learn about the man behind their favorite storylines. Filled with dramatic turns, dangerous risks, and an overall devotion to bringing life to the show, this biography will offer fans a backstage pass to the fascinating world of soaps!

Bill Bell worked from a love of his characters and his family, and was never ...

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For the first time fans will be able to discover the true stories behind the creation and growth of the most popular and iconic soap operas of all time, and they'll learn about the man behind their favorite storylines. Filled with dramatic turns, dangerous risks, and an overall devotion to bringing life to the show, this biography will offer fans a backstage pass to the fascinating world of soaps!

Bill Bell worked from a love of his characters and his family, and was never afraid to fight for what he knew to be important to both. For any fans of Bill's shows or anyone working on creating dramas, this is an unprecedented look into the life of one of the men who did it best.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
""The Young and Restless Life of William J. Bell" details Bill Bell's enormous contributions to daytime television and is a must read for any soap opera fan, who all owe a debt to him. " - Pop Culture Guy

"Tremendous research and wonderful stories reveal that Bell's life had as much drama as the soaps he created, wrote, and produced. " - The Tolucan Times

"Filled with dramatic turns, dangerous risks and an overall devotion to bringing life to the show, this biography offers fans a back-stage pass to the fascinating world of soaps and the life of one of the men who did them best." - CBS Soaps in Depth

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402272110
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks
  • Publication date: 6/1/2012
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,441,885
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Read an Excerpt


Whenever I think of Bill Bell, I think of him in his navy blue blazer with his perfectly cropped hair, casting a radiant smile like one that you'd see on Santa Claus on Christmas morning.

He took a chance on me when he cast me on The Young and the Restless in 1975. He told me that I was fairly "green" as an actor, but that there wasn't a bad angle on me. I was replacing William Grey Espy in the role of Dr. William Foster Jr., aka Snapper. Espy had been very popular in the part, and I thought I was going to be fired when I couldn't get it together and get over my nerves.

I said to the stage manager the first day I walked onto the set, "Where's the director?" I had no idea there was even a control booth. It took me a couple of years to turn it all around. Eventually I did, thanks to Bill, who never gave up on me, and also to Jeanne Cooper, who plays Katherine Chancellor. She took me under her wing and gave me acting lessons.

Thanks to Bill, my experience on Y&R molded me from a terrified, insecure geeky guy to a confident, positive force in the soap-opera world. Being on Y&R also helped shape my work ethic. The most important thing I remember about Bill was that he believed in me. He was always positive about my growth as an actor.

I grew up in LaGrange, Illinois, not far from where Bill and his wife, Lee Phillip Bell, lived. Lee was an amazing presence in Chicago. She was the Oprah Winfrey of that era of television. I remember the first time I met Bill and Lee. They invited my parents and me to their home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and they were both so gracious. We all went out on Bill's boat and toured the lake, talked about the show, and had dinner. Bill was a positive guy with an amazing sense of class. His belief in me gave me the confidence to continue my acting.

Meeting Bill and Lee's children when they were very young was a wonderful experience. I still see Bill and Lee's daughter, Lauralee, at the gym. The last time I saw their son Brad, he was driving about 110 miles an hour down the Pacific Coast Highway in a charity race for the CHP (California Highway Patrol) 11-99 Foundation. I'd left Y&R years earlier, but I said to him, "I still want on the show!" He yelled back, "Anytime! The door is always open!"

I was on Y&R in 1980 when I called Bill and told him that producers wanted to cast me in Semi-Tough, a TV series on ABC with Markie Post that was based on the feature film from a few years earlier with Burt Reynolds and Jill Clayburgh. I told Bill that this was my dream and I really wanted to do it. I said I could do Y&R and the nighttime show at the same time. Bill said, "Yes, absolutely." He was the reason that I was able to do both shows. He and executive producer John Conboy could have exercised an option in my contract, but they didn't want to stand in my way.

We had the kind of relationship that's hard to come by in Hollywood.

Semi-Tough only ran for four episodes. I came back like a puppy dog with my tail between my legs, but Bill never made me feel like anything but a valued member of his Y&R family.

Being on Y&R was always a fun time. One of my best recollections was Snapper doing a very provocative demonstration of the Heimlich maneuver with his wife, Chris, played by the very attractive Trish Stewart. It seemed like Snapper and Chris were always in bed together. I used to say, "When the ratings are low, all the clothes go!" But the ratings never were low. Y&R was always at the top. I know it's remained on top of the world for thirty-nine years now, which is unbelievably amazing and a tribute to Bill Bell.

After I left Y&R, I landed the series Knight Rider. Then, I was cast on Baywatch and became executive producer in 1991. Critics said the show was about women in bikinis on the beach, but the real reason viewers came back each week was because of the relationship that my character, Mitch Buchannon, had with his son, Hobie, played by Jeremy Jackson. The relationship that Snapper had on Y&R with his son, Chuckie, whom he gave a kidney to, was a precursor of Mitch and Hobie.

I tried to put the same storytelling values that I learned from Bill into every Baywatch script. I made sure the stories had heart, humor, and action. On Baywatch, we had romance, not sex; action, not violence; and if anyone ever drowned, it happened off camera. I learned a lot about character development from being on Y&R and from Bill. I loved his tenacity and his fierce loyalty.

Bill invited me to host Y&R's twentieth anniversary party in March, 1993, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. I was honored. That was an amazing evening. Seeing Bill and Lee and their children and everyone from the show that night reminded me of my time at Y&R and the discipline I'd learned there. You can lose that when you go to primetime and surround yourself with enablers. You always need someone there to tell you the truth. Bill taught me that the truth was my friend. And he was always there to tell me the truth in a positive way.

Bill radiated a light that was so positive. I never saw him angry. Bill was a gentleman. He knew what he wanted, and he did everything with class.

It's an honor to be included in this biography.


David Hasselhoff

David Hasselhoff played Dr. William "Snapper" Foster Jr. on The Young and the Restless from 1975—82 and again in 2010.

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Table of Contents





Chapter 1. Backstory

Chapter 2. Mad Men

Chapter 3. When Bill Met Lee

Chapter 4. Irna

Chapter 5. The Lee Phillip Bell Show

Chapter 6. "Like Sands through the Hourglass"

Chapter 7. "Young and Restless" Years, Part 1

Chapter 8. "Young and Restless" Years, Part 2

Chapter 9. Take Your Daughter to Work Day

Chapter 10. From "Rags" to Riches

Chapter 11. The Son Also Writes

Chapter 12. Bill and Jill Went Up a Hill

Chapter 13. Chasing Emmy

Chapter 14. "Baby, Come Back"

Chapter 15. Meet the Press

Chapter 16. The (Soap) World According to Bill

Chapter 17. Fenmore's West

Chapter 18. A "Bold" Move

Chapter 19. "Young and Restless" Years, Part 3

Chapter 20. After the Rainbow Room.

Chapter 21. Cliffhanger

Selected Bibliography

Acknowledgments and Notes

About the Authors

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2012

    Highly recommend

    As a longtime Y&R viewer, it was great to find out about the man behind the long running soap. I have always been intrigued by how these stories come about. Mr. Bell was a consummate professional and it shows in the storytelling to this day. He was also a family man and that too shows in his storytelling. Many of his stories from long ago that were never resolved are now coming back to the forefront of the show many years later.
    For instance, the who ran down Christine and Paul in 1994 is a major story at the moment. Mr. Bell was pretty much one of a kind in his storytelling. Thank goodness he taught the next generation of storytellers how to create his magic.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 2, 2012

    Bill Bell well told.

    I want to recommend this excellent biography by Michael Maloney and Lee Phillip Bell on Bill Bell.

    Bill was an extraordinary man, who knew storytelling, television and whose heart beat was always there with his public, but his mind was leading them down a delightful path.

    Michael Maloney, who wrote with Lee Phillip Bell, Bill's wife and an amazing force in television herself, have written from the inside to let us see this man's story. It was great for me personally to hear Bill's voice again, a voice that means so much to me.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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