William Bell

Soap Opera Creator / Writer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

Tab

About
About this interview

In his three-and-a-half-hour Archive interview, William Bell (1927-2005) fondly recalls his first soap opera writing job at Guiding Light. He discusses his working relationship with creator and friend Irna Phillips, and with fellow Phillips protege, Agnes Nixon. He talks of co-creating As The World Turns and Another World with Irna Phillips, as well as becoming head writer for Days of Our Lives in 1965. Bell proudly speaks about his creative relationship with wife/writing partner Lee Phillip Bell, with whom he created two successful daytime soap operas, The Young and the Restless  and The Bold and the Beautiful. He discusses his sons' and daughter's involvement with his shows, and speaks of the then-current state of soap operas. Alan Carter conducted the interview on July 15, 1998 in Beverly Hills, CA.

"Characters you can relate to and identify with and the stories that impact you -- it's much more than looking as an observer. You are getting emotionally involved with these characters, and that is so important."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
William Bell on how the title of The Young and the Restless came about
William Bell on casting his daughter, Lauralee Bell, on The Young and the Restless
William Bell on the social responsibility of television and educational summer storylines about young people on The Young and the Restless
William Bell on Walter Cronkite interrupting As the World Turns to announce President Kennedy had been killed
William Bell on co-creating Another World with Irna Phillips
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early years and influences; on listening to radio serials when he was young
On getting hired at BBM radio and McCann-Erickson advertising
On how he left a high-paying advertising job to pursue writing; on growing up during the Depression; on first starting to write for radio

Chapter 2

On being an advertising copywriter
On writing for Guiding Light on television; on meeting Irna Phillips, creator of Guiding Light
On his early memories of television; on the first Guiding Light script he wrote for Irna Phillips and working with her
On leaving Guiding Light

Chapter 3

On writing Guiding Light in Chicago while production was in New York; on interactions with sponsors
On co-creating Another World with Irna Phillips; on the popularity of As the World Turns
On Walter Cronkite interrupting As the World Turns to announce President Kennedy had been killed; on soap operas becoming topical
On how writing for soaps has changed over the years; on his writing style, the popularity of soap characters, and his credits

Chapter 4

On expanding the format of soaps from half-hour to an hour-long; on a typical workday with Irna Phillips on As the World Turns; on decisions to kill off major characters
On creating characters and casting for Another World; on the term "soap opera"
On how he came to take over as writer on Days of Our Lives from Ted Corday; on changes he brought to the show; on never having an agent

Chapter 5

On production on Days of Our Lives; on the show's success and surpassing As the World Turns; on the writing on Days of Our Lives
On a memorable storyline involving "Laura Horton" on Days of Our Lives; on NBC executives trusting his judgment
On incorporating events of the Vietnam War into the storylines of Days of Our Lives; on famous feuds on the show; on not attending cast parties
On the show transitioning from half-hour to an hour (after he left); on leaving Days of Our Lives to create The Young and the Restless

Chapter 6

On creating The Young and the Restless with his wife
On the beginnings of The Young and the Restless and the show's emphasis on youth and romance in the Midwest (Genoa City, Wisconsin); on creating characters
On the process of collaborating with his wife to create The Young and the Restless; on casting the show (and casting his daughter, Lauralee Bell); on educational summer storylines about young people

Chapter 7

On the adult nature of The Young and the Restless; on winning an Emmy for The Young and the Restless; on expanding the show to an hour-long format
On creating The Bold and the Beautiful; on celebrity cameos and major storylines on the show
On the then-current state of soap operas; on crediting his wife, Lee Philip Bell, with his success; on the highlight of his career
On his thoughts on people with whom he's worked, including family members
Shows

Another World

View Show Page
William Bell on co-creating Another World with Irna Phillips
William Bell on not always getting credit for co-creating Another World with Irna Phillips
William Bell on creating characters and casting for Another World
William Bell on the co-creation of Another World and leaving the show to Agnes Nixon to run

As the World Turns

View Show Page
William Bell on the popularity of As the World Turns  
William Bell on Walter Cronkite interrupting As the World Turns to announce President Kennedy had been killed
William Bell on the popularity of "Lisa Grimaldi" and the characters on As the World Turns
William Bell on the challenges of making As the World Turns an hour-long show from the initial half-hour
William Bell on the distribution of duties with Irna Phillips on As the World Turns
William Bell on working with Ted Corday on As the World Turns
William Bell on a typical workday with Irna Phillips on As the World Turns
William Bell on discussions with Irna Phillips over Mark Rydell's character ("Jeff") on As the World Turns

Bold and the Beautiful, The

View Show Page
William Bell on co-creating (again with his wife, Lee) The Bold and the Beautiful
William Bell on celebrity cameos and powerful storylines on The Bold and the Beautiful
William Bell on his then-current responsibilities on The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful

Days of Our Lives

View Show Page
William Bell on taking over Days of Our Lives from Ted Corday and changes he brought to the show
William Bell on production on Days of Our Lives
William Bell on writing scripts and hiring writers for Days of Our Lives
William Bell on a memorable storyline involving "Laura Horton" on Days of Our Lives
William Bell on incorporating events of the Vietnam War into the storylines of Days of Our Lives
William Bell on famous feuds on Days of Our Lives
William Bell on not attending cast parties for Days of Our Lives
William Bell on Days of Our Lives transitioning from half-hour to an hour-long show (after he left); on leaving the show to start The Young and the Restless

Edge of Night, The

View Show Page
William Bell on The Edge of Night

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

View Show Page
William Bell on winning an Emmy for The Young and the Restless

Guiding Light

View Show Page
William Bell on a potential opening to write for Guiding Light
William Bell on how his wife, Lee Philip Bell, was the key to getting hired by Irna Phillips to write for Guiding Ligh t
William Bell on the first Guiding Light scripts he wrote for Irna Phillips
William Bell on Guiding Light storylines he worked on with Irna Phillips
William Bell on leaving Guiding Light
William Bell on writing Guiding Light in Chicago while production was in New York; on interactions with sponsors

Our Private World

View Show Page
William Bell on the creation of the primetime series Our Private World

Young and the Restless, The

View Show Page
William Bell on how the title of The Young and the Restless came about
William Bell on how The Young and the Restless came to be
William Bell on the beginnings of The Young and the Restless and the show's emphasis on youth and romance in the Midwest (Genoa City, Wisconsin)
William Bell on the excitement of creating new characters on The Young and the Restless
William Bell on the success of The Young and the Restless
William Bell on casting The Young and the Restless
William Bell on casting his daughter, Lauralee Bell, on The Young and the Restless
William Bell on the social responsibility of television and educational summer storylines about young people on The Young and the Restless
William Bell on the adult nature of The Young and the Restless
William Bell on expanding The Young and the Restless to one hour
William Bell on the popularity of The Young and the Restless
William Bell on his then-current responsibilities on The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful
Topics

Censorship / Standards & Practices

View Topic
William Bell on NBC executives trusting him with storylines on Days of Our Lives

Emmy Awards

View Topic
William Bell on winning an Emmy for The Young and the Restless

Historic Events and Social Change

View Topic
William Bell on Walter Cronkite interrupting As the World Turns to announce President Kennedy had been killed
William Bell on incorporating events of the Vietnam War into the storylines of Days of Our Lives

JFK Assassination and Funeral

View Topic
William Bell on Walter Cronkite interrupting As the World Turns to announce President Kennedy had been killed

John F. Kennedy

View Topic
William Bell on Walter Cronkite interrupting As the World Turns to announce President Kennedy had been killed

Television Industry

View Topic
William Bell on NBC executives trusting him with storylines on Days of Our Lives

Television and the Presidency

View Topic
William Bell on Walter Cronkite interrupting As the World Turns to announce President Kennedy had been killed

Vietnam War

View Topic
William Bell on incorporating events of the Vietnam War into the storylines of Days of Our Lives

War

View Topic
William Bell on incorporating events of the Vietnam War into the storylines of Days of Our Lives
Professions

Writers

View Profession
William Bell on the challenges of writing for live soap operas
William Bell on changes in writing for soap operas over the years
William Bell on not being a proponent of ad-libbing in daytime
William Bell on his writing style
William Bell on his writing process for Days of Our Lives
Genres

Daytime/Primetime Serials

View Genre
William Bell on writing for Guiding Ligh t on television; on meeting and working with Irna Phillips, creator of Guiding Ligh t
William Bell on the popularity of, characters on, and writing for As the World Turns  
William Bell on writing Guiding Light in Chicago while production was in New York; on interactions with sponsors
William Bell on Walter Cronkite interrupting As the World Turns to announce President Kennedy had been killed
William Bell on taking over Days of Our Lives from Ted Corday and changes he brought to the show
William Bell on a typical workday with Irna Phillips on As the World Turns
William Bell on writing for, production of, and major storylines on Days of Our Lives
William Bell on creating the show The Young and the Restless and how the title came about
Wiliam Bell on the excitement of creating new characters on The Young and the Restless
William Bell on co-creating (again with his wife, Lee) The Bold and the Beautiful
William Bell on the format changes, adult nature, and popularity of The Young and the Restless
People

Kay Alden

View Interview Page
William Bell on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Kay Alden

Lauralee Bell

View Person Page
William Bell on casting his daughter, Lauralee Bell, on The Young and the Restless
William Bell on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - his daughter, Lauralee Bell

Lee Phillip Bell

View Person Page
William Bell on how his wife, Lee Philip Bell, was the key to getting hired by Irna Phillips to write for Guiding Ligh t
William Bell on how The Young and the Restless came to be
William Bell on collaborating with his wife to create The Young and the Restless
William Bell on crediting his wife, Lee Philip Bell, with his success
William Bell on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - his wife, Lee Philip Bel

Bradley Bell

View Person Page
William Bell on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - his son, Bradley Bell

William J. Bell, Jr.

View Person Page
William Bell on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - his son, William Jr. Bell

Jeanne Cooper

View Interview Page
William Bell on Jeanne Cooper's interpretation of his feelings about The Young and the Restless

Ted Corday

View Person Page
William Bell on working with Ted Corday on As the World Turns
William Bell on taking over Days of Our Lives from Ted Corday, at Corday's request, not knowing that Corday was dying
William Bell on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Ted Corday

Ken Corday

View Interview Page
William Bell on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Ken Corday

Susan Flannery

View Person Page
William Bell on a memorable storyline involving "Laura Horton" on Days of Our Lives

Eileen Fulton

View Interview Page
William Bell on the popularity of "Lisa Grimaldi" and the characters on As the World Turns

Bud Grant

View Person Page
William Bell on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Bud Grant

Deidre Hall

View Person Page
William Bell on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Deidre Hall

David Hasselhoff

View Person Page
William Bell on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - David Hasselhoff

Don Hastings

View Interview Page
William Bell on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Don Hastings

Susan Seaforth Hayes

View Person Page
William Bell on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Susan Seaforth Hayes

H. Wesley Kenney

View Interview Page
William Bell on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - H. Wesley Kenney

John Mitchell

View Person Page
William Bell on how The Young and the Restless came to be

Agnes Nixon

View Interview Page
William Bell on soap opera creators Agnes Nixon and Irna Phillips
William Bell on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Agnes Nixon

Irna Phillips

View Person Page
William Bell on a potential opening to write for Guiding Light
William Bell on how his wife, Lee Philip Bell, was the key to getting hired by Irna Phillips to write for Guiding Ligh t
William Bell on meeting Irna Phillips, creator of Guiding Ligh t
William Bell on the first Guiding Light scripts he wrote for Irna Phillips
William Bell on what he learned about soap opera writing from Guiding Light creator Irna Phillips
William Bell on Guiding Light storylines he worked on with Irna Phillips
William Bell on soap opera creators Agnes Nixon and Irna Phillips
William Bell on co-creating Another World with Irna Phillips
William Bell on the distribution of duties with Irna Phillips on As the World Turns
William Bell on a typical workday with Irna Phillips on As the World Turns
William Bell on Irna Phillips' reaction to Bell leaving Guiding Light to do Days of Our Lives
William Bell on Irna Phillips not talking to him when Days of Our Lives surpassed As the World Turns
William Bell on his thoughts on people with whom he's worked - Irna Phillips

Mark Rydell

View Person Page
William Bell on discussions with Irna Phillips over Mark Rydell's character ("Jeff") on As the World Turns

Larry White

View Person Page
William Bell on NBC executives trusting him with storylines on Days of Our Lives

All Interviews

Q
S