Television producer and executive Dave Bell, an Emmy and Peabody award-winner who helped pioneer reality television, died May 13 following a battle with cancer. He was 84.
“Dave was ahead of his time as a social documentarian who walked the talk on women’s issues, equally passionate onscreen and off,” said NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Chairman Bonnie Hammer, who worked with Bell for several years. “He was the best kind of mentor, providing the space to learn and grow but always there with support and advice when you needed it. And he embodied the qualities that matter most in any business and in life: generosity, fairness, wisdom and, above all, kindness.”
Originally from Andover, Ohio, Bell served time in the U.S. Army and started his entertainment career as a documentary filmmaker. Through his Dave Bell Associates, which he established in the 1960s, Bell produced a series of documentaries under the Missing … Have You Seen This Person? title that would eventually inspire NBC’s unsolved Mysteries.
Bell later executive produced the 1984 daily magazine series Alive & Well, hosted by psychologist Dr. Laura Schlessinger and Kathy Smith which ran in syndication as well as on USA. He later exec-produced documentaries for Lifetime, including Gangs: Not My Kid, Innocence on Trial, and others. Among his other credits were LAPD: Life on the Beat and Missing: Reward, hosted by Stacy Keach, and several made for television films. A lifelong HAM radio enthusiast, he produced as well as directed several documentaries about the hobby, and in 2014 published a book about it called World’s Best Hobby.
He’s survived by his Wife, Alice and their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.