The Legacy Of Young And The Restless And Bold And Beautiful's Co-Creator, William J. Bell

William J. Bell – or Bill Bell — is one of the most celebrated names in daytime television — and with good reason. A titan of the industry, Bell is the man behind two of the most successful soaps in history — the midwestern drama "The Young and the Restless" and the fashion-forward "The Bold and the Beautiful."

Along with his wife, Lee Phillip Bell, Bill established two shows that have entertained both American and international audiences every weekday for over 40 years. With a combined 12,500 episodes (yes, you read that right), "Y&R" and "B&B" have helped shape the soap opera genre and remain two of the most popular soaps even today.

With unbridled talent, patience, determination, and a lot of creativity, the Bells created vast and interesting worlds, populated them with unique and memorable characters, invited the cast into their lives, and left a remarkable legacy for their children to carry on.

Bell helped bring early soaps to life in the 1960s

Formerly in advertising, Bill Bell got his start in daytime TV working on the soaps "Guiding Light" and "As the World Turns," according to Soaps. Both were created by Irna Phillips, who Bell went on to create "Another World" with from 1964 to 1999. In an interview with the Television Academy, Bell once said, "Irna was patient but she was honest. She's not gonna take any crap, she's not gonna put anything that shouldn't be on the air, on the air." It was ultimately Phillips' firm hand and unwavering confidence in Bell that led him to become the creator and writer we still idolize today.

Bell had quickly earned a reputation in the industry for his brilliant scriptwriting and after a decade of working with Phillips, he was brought on by the "Days of Our Lives" team in 1966 to help the struggling soap turn things around. Bill was successful and managed to take "DOOL" from nearly being canceled to the number one spot in the ratings (via SoapHub). This accomplishment encouraged Bill to step out and create his very own soap.

A legacy is born with 'The Young and the Restless'

Wanting to make his own mark in the soap world, Bill Bell and his wife, Lee Phillip Bell, created "The Young and the Restless" in 1973 — which was originally named "The Innocent Years." Frustratingly, "Y&R" was not the instant hit the Bells hoped for and Bill even considered ending the show in its early days (via Soaps). However, CBS believed in Bill, and by 1988, "Y&R" was topping the ratings.

Even before "Y&R" had fully reached its peak, CBS tapped the Bells to create another soap to fill out their roster. Thus, the sister soap "The Bold and the Beautiful" was formed in 1987, and in the time since, it has been named the Most Popular Daytime Soap by the Guinness World Records (via Soaps). Both "Y&R" and "B&B" exist in the same universe, which allowed characters and storylines to crossover. It also helped build an even more substantial fanbase for both shows.

Bell helped jumpstart the careers of many legendary soap stars

Though Bill Bell tragically passed away in 2005 due to complications from Alzheimer's disease, his creativity and hard work still lives on through the characters and stories he created along with the actors who bring them to life. Bell was responsible for creating the infamous Newman and Abbott families on "The Young and the Restless" and the Forrester, Logan, and Spencer clans on "The Bold and the Beautiful," which are all still featured prominently today (via SoapHub).

Popular actors like Susan Flannery (Stephanie Forrester), Eric Braeden (Victor Newman), and Katherine Kelly Lang (Brooke Logan), among many others, credit Bell with establishing them as the soap stars they are today. Braeden and Lang, who still appear today, have spent a combined 77 years on their respective soaps. In an interview on "Marie," the late Jeanne Cooper, who portrayed Kay Chancellor for 40 years, once said, "Bill Bell saved my life." That sentiment is a testament to the enduring friendships that the Bells formed with their casts and speaks to the loyalty these actors have to the shows and their characters.

The two Bell sons keep their parents' soap legacy going

Bill and Lee Bell's son, Bradley Bell, followed in his parents' footsteps, helping to launch "The Bold and the Beautiful" in 1987 after receiving his degree in television production. Bradley has remained a part of the show ever since, being promoted from associate producer to supervising producer to executive producer, over the years. He has also been the show's head writer since 1993. Over the years, Bradley has won 15 Daytime Emmys for his work on "B&B" as well. The Bells are even further ingratiated into the show with several "B&B" mansion sets inspired by the homes of Brad and his parents.

Bill Bell Jr. has also contributed his business acumen to the family industry as the President of both Bell-Phillip Television Productions Inc., which owns "B&B," and Bell Dramatic Serial Co., which co-owns "The Young and the Restless." His wife, Marina Bell, is also involved, writing for "B&B" in the 1990s and as the head writer on "Y&R" from 2007 to 2012. She is often credited with bringing classic characters such as Kay Chancellor back to the forefront of the show and has received six Daytime Emmy nominations and one win for her work.

Lauralee Bell still appears on 'The Young and the Restless' to this day

Bill and Lee Bell's only daughter, soap actress Lauralee Bell, has been involved with "The Young and the Restless" since 1983 when she was cast as teenage model Christine Blair. The character has since become a lawyer and is known for her longtime rivalry with Phyllis Summers (Michelle Stafford) along with her back-and-forth romances with Danny Romalotti (Michael Damian) and Paul Williams (Doug Davidson). Though she has a very successful career, Christine has also been through quite a bit of turmoil on the show, having been sexually abused multiple times, run over twice, and suffered a miscarriage.

Lauralee recently took to Instagram to wish her late father a happy birthday, including a sweet note to fans that read, "He edited every ['Y&R'] script with a [red pen] and appreciated you all more than you know!!" The Bell family also lost their matriarch in 2020 when Lee Philip Bell passed away at the age of 91. It's clear that honoring her parents' legacy is important to Lauralee and all of the Bell family. With almost 40 years on "Y&R" under her belt, she's doing a pretty good job.