Lee Phillip Bell, who along with her late husband William J. Bell created CBS’ The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful, two of the most popular soap operas in TV history, died yesterday. She was 91.
Bell’s death was announced by her children, William James Bell, Bradley Phillip Bell and longtime Young and the Restless actress Lauralee Bell Martin. A cause of death was not immediately available.
An Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist, Bell also won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series as co-creator of The Young and the Restless in 1975 and was recipient of the Daytime Emmys’ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.
“Our mother was a loving and supportive wife, mother and grandmother,” the family said in a statement. “Gracious and kind, she enriched the lives of all who knew her. We will miss her tremendously.”
Born in Chicago, Illinois on June 9, 1928, Bell began a career in broadcast journalism in her hometown, and in 1953 began hosting and producing the afternoon talk show that would soon become The Lee Phillip Show, running on Chicago’s CBS affiliate until 1986. The show was notable for an early interest in social issues, with Bell also producing and narrating award-winning specials and documentaries on subjects including foster children, rape, children and divorce, and babies born to women in prison.
While hosting the show, Bell met and, in 1954, married advertising exec William J. Bell, who left advertising to become a writer on such soaps as Guiding Light, As the World Turns and Another World.
In 1973, the Bells co-created the CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless, and in 1987 its spin-off The Bold and the Beautiful. Lee Phillip Bell exec-produced The Bold and the Beautiful during the 1980s.
Over the years, The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful have won a combined 147 Daytime Emmy Awards (116 for Restless, 31 for Bold). The elder soap has won the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series 10 times, its sibling three times.
The Bells’ son, Bradley Bell, is the longtime executive producer and head writer of The Bold and the Beautiful. His elder brother William James Bell is president of the family’s Bell-Phillip Television Productions, Inc.
Daughter Lauralee Bell played Restless‘ audience-favorite role of model-turned-lawyer Christine “Cricket” Blair from 1983 to 2005, recurring thereafter.
As host of her Chicago show, Bell interviewed Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Regan; and celebrities including The Beatles, Judy Garland, Clint Eastwood, Jerry Lewis, The Rolling Stones, Lucille Ball, Jack Benny and Oprah Winfrey, among many others.
Among her many awards were 16 regional (Chicago) Emmys. She won the Alfred I. Dupont/Columbia University Award for the 1973 special The Rape of Paulette, and in 1977 was the first woman to receive the Governors Award from the Chicago chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. In 1980, she was named Person of the Year by the Broadcast Advertising Club of Chicago and the Outstanding Woman in Communications by the Chicago YMCA. She also received the Salvation Army’s William Booth Award for her distinguished career in communications and social service.
In addition to her children, Bell is survived by daughters-in-law Maria Arena Bell and Ambassador Colleen Bell, her son-in-law Scott Martin and eight grandchildren.
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