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



"A beautiful dedication to Bill and the pioneering legacy of the Bell family. Their endless commitment, passion, and creativity have left an indelible mark on the genre."-Frank Valentini, executive producer of General Hospital and Emmy-winning director of One Life to Live

"Reading this book is like rolling in the arms of soap opera's greatest lover...Bill Bell!"-Bill and Susan Seaforth ...

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

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"A beautiful dedication to Bill and the pioneering legacy of the Bell family. Their endless commitment, passion, and creativity have left an indelible mark on the genre."-Frank Valentini, executive producer of General Hospital and Emmy-winning director of One Life to Live

"Reading this book is like rolling in the arms of soap opera's greatest lover...Bill Bell!"-Bill and Susan Seaforth Hayes, Emmy-nominated actors on Days of our Lives and authors of the novel TRUMPET

"An informed, insightful look at the inner workings of the Bell Empire-the most successful dynasty in daytime television history. It's a great read."-Peter Bergman, three-time Emmy-winning actor on The Young and the Restless

"Michael Maloney has complied an impressive amount f details into an entertaining and fast-moving book. Read this book if you want a fascinating insight into one of television's original show runners and the legacy he left behind."-Cady McClain, Emmy-winning actress, All My Children and As the World Turns

"One of the reasons for Bill Bell's legendary success in daytime drama was his immense respect for the genre and its audience. Longtime daytime journalist Michael Maloney uses the same respect for the genre to reveal the man behind the legend. For any fan of soap operas, this book is a must-read."-Dave Rupel, executive producer, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Emmy-winning writer for Guiding Light

"Nobody 'gets' daytime like Maloney! A fascinating read for the dedicated soap fan!"-Michael Bruno, daytime talent manager

"A fitting tribute to the man who brought daytime's most memorable characters to life, with great insight into his passion for the genre and dedication to his family...THE YOUNG AND RESTLESS LIFE OF WILLIAM J. BELL honors the legacy of daytime's 'Drama King.'"-Angelica McDaniel, senior vice president, CBS, Daytime

"I cannot remember the last biography I enjoyed reading as much as THE YOUNG AND RESTLESS LIFE OF WILLIAM J. BELL. Together with Lee Phillip Bell, Michael Maloney has done a masterful job of weaving private family memories, never-before-told anecdotes, and an insider's knowledge of the soap industry together to create a tapestry as rich and colorful as Bill Bell himself. A must-read for any soap opera fan!"-Roberta Caploe, former managing editor of Soap Opera Digest and author of MELROSE CONFIDENTIAL

"The carefully selected photographs alone are worth this beguiling trip down memory lane."-Lynette Rice, Entertainment Weekly

Millions of fans worldwide know his soap opera and his characters, but few know the story of the man who brought them to life. William J. Bell, television's most prolific writer, reinvented the soap opera genre with his groundbreaking serial The Young and the Restless in 1973 and went on to co-create The Bold and the Beautiful with his wife and successful TV host Lee Phillip Bell, which debuted in 1987.

The Young and Restless Life of William J. Bell tells the inside story of daytime's greatest storyteller, including his role as an advertising executive in the era of Mad Men, working for legendary serial creator Irna Phillips, and his move from Chicago to Los Angeles, which resulted in Y&R taking the top spot in the rating. This book offers an unprecedented look into the life of the man who defined the soap genre and draws readers behind the scenes into the captivating world of the daytime soap they know and love.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402280672
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks
  • Publication date: 5/7/2013
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 801,074
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Read an Excerpt


I've had the incredibly exciting experience of creating stories and characters with whom countless of millions of you in the audience have become involved. Characters you've welcomed into your home each day...Stories of families and relationships, romance and conflict, with people you love to love or love to hate, characters who have captivated you for whatever reason.

-Bill Bell in his Lifetime Achievement Award acceptance speech at the 1992 Daytime Emmy Awards in New York City

One day in the late 1980s, one of Bill Bell's young stars was having a particularly bad time taping scenes for a front-burner, emotion-packed storyline on The Young and the Restless.

In a temporary burst of frustration, the actor slammed his script down on the studio floor at CBS Television City in Hollywood proclaiming, "I could type better s- with my d-."

The thespian was unaware that Bill, the show's creator, head writer, and senior executive producer, was working with his writers in his office two floors above and had witnessed the outburst on an in-house monitor.

Producers and head writers at other shows have fired actors on the spot for far less egregious acts. Bill was certainly not a man to be trifled with, but he was known for being able to see the bigger picture. He always made his decisions based on what was best for his show, not his ego. Knowing that it wouldn't serve his story or his audience well if he recast or killed off this pivotal player (who remains a big fan favorite and was doing an otherwise admirable job in bringing Bill's stories to life), Bill refrained from pink-slipping the star.

Still, he couldn't let the moment pass without sending his foul-mouthed actor a pointed message. Bill called down to the control booth and left word for the agitated player: "Tell him I have an IBM Selectric typewriter. He can come up anytime and give it a try."

Then it was back to work for everyone. The actor regained his composure and completed his scenes. Bill went back to his meeting and turned out another episode of daily drama. He'd been doing that for more than thirty-five years, having studied under Irna Phillips, who has been called the Queen of Soaps.

Irna was a broadcasting pioneer who created several radio dramas that Bill listened to as a child while growing up in Elmwood Park, Illinois. Later, she successfully ushered The Guiding Light into the television era. Then she went on to create or cocreate As the World Turns, Another World, and Days of our Lives. Irna taught Bill certain principles about soap operas that he adhered to for his entire career.

Bill created diverse and dynamic characters, yet audiences found these larger-than-life personas relatable. He believed in the sanctity of never revealing what was going to happen until viewers saw it on the air. If fans wanted to learn a baby's paternity, see if the ailing heroine lived or died, or find out whether or not the star-crossed lovers' wedding was finally going to happen, they had to tune in both today and tomorrow. And they couldn't wait until tomorrow.

Bill's stories were actor-proof. He could cast classically trained thespians or inexperienced newcomers, and viewers would embrace his characters with equal devotion. Acting technique would come in time. Bill's story, however, was in place from day one.

Bill wrote many fictional romances and love stories. Some, like Victor and Nikki on Y&R or Ridge and Brooke on B&B, were epic, but they all paled in comparison to his real-life marriage of more than fifty years with Lee Phillip.

Lee, a pioneer in the days of live TV in Chicago and host of The Lee Phillip Show, met Bill at her television studio. They shared an elevator ride one morning, and the rest was history. They fell in love, worked hard, and cocreated two soap operas (The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful) and three children: William (Bill), Bradley, and Lauralee. All three have successfully followed their parents in the world of soap operas, each in a different role. Bill is president of the family's production and distribution companies. Bradley serves as head writer and executive producer of B&B. Lauralee, taking a cue from her mother's on-camera career, acted on Y&R as model-turned-lawyer Cricket Blair Williams, a role she continues to reprise.

The Bells moved to Los Angeles in 1986, setting up shop at CBS Television City in Hollywood and a residence in Beverly Hills. For Lee, going west meant bidding adieu to her career in front of the camera in the Windy City. She made the move to a new city and a new career, as coexecutive producer of B&B, the same way she does everything else-with quiet grace.

Scores of people (actors, writers, crew members) were able to buy homes and send their children to college thanks to the consistent work that Bill's passion for storytelling provided.

Like other great leaders, Bill hired smart people to work with him. He let them do what they did best while he orchestrated the lives, loves, machinations, and maladies of his characters.

His career, like the destinies of those characters, unfolded slowly and matured over time. Bill went from being Irna's student to becoming the head writer of Days of our Lives in 1966, saving it from cancellation. In 1973, he and Lee launched Y&R, which revolutionized the serial form. In 1987, they brought B&B to life so their children could experience what it was like to launch a new series and be fully involved in a family business.

Long before Donahue and Oprah premiered, Lee tackled many social issues on her Chicago-based talk show, and she later advised Bill on how best to incorporate them into his storylines. Ironically, he never addressed on air the one (Alzheimer's) that struck closest to home, though his son Bradley would do so five years after Bill's untimely death.

Over his five-decade career in dramatic serials, Bill wrote thousands and thousands of hours of compelling story.

This is his.

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Table of Contents

Contents Foreword Preface Introduction 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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