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The Young and Restless Life of William J. Bell: Creator of The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful Hardcover – June 1, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks (June 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402272111
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402272110
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,291,233 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

""The Young and Restless Life of William J. Bell" details Bill Bell's enormous contributions to daytime television and is a must read for any soap opera fan, who all owe a debt to him. " - Pop Culture Guy

"Tremendous research and wonderful stories reveal that Bell's life had as much drama as the soaps he created, wrote, and produced. " - The Tolucan Times

"Filled with dramatic turns, dangerous risks and an overall devotion to bringing life to the show, this biography offers fans a back-stage pass to the fascinating world of soaps and the life of one of the men who did them best." - CBS Soaps in Depth

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Foreword

Whenever I think of Bill Bell, I think of him in his navy blue blazer with his perfectly cropped hair, casting a radiant smile like one that you'd see on Santa Claus on Christmas morning.

He took a chance on me when he cast me on The Young and the Restless in 1975. He told me that I was fairly "green" as an actor, but that there wasn't a bad angle on me. I was replacing William Grey Espy in the role of Dr. William Foster Jr., aka Snapper. Espy had been very popular in the part, and I thought I was going to be fired when I couldn't get it together and get over my nerves.

I said to the stage manager the first day I walked onto the set, "Where's the director?" I had no idea there was even a control booth. It took me a couple of years to turn it all around. Eventually I did, thanks to Bill, who never gave up on me, and also to Jeanne Cooper, who plays Katherine Chancellor. She took me under her wing and gave me acting lessons.

Thanks to Bill, my experience on Y&R molded me from a terrified, insecure geeky guy to a confident, positive force in the soap-opera world. Being on Y&R also helped shape my work ethic. The most important thing I remember about Bill was that he believed in me. He was always positive about my growth as an actor.

I grew up in LaGrange, Illinois, not far from where Bill and his wife, Lee Phillip Bell, lived. Lee was an amazing presence in Chicago. She was the Oprah Winfrey of that era of television. I remember the first time I met Bill and Lee. They invited my parents and me to their home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and they were both so gracious. We all went out on Bill's boat and toured the lake, talked about the show, and had dinner. Bill was a positive guy with an amazing sense of class. His belief in me gave me the confidence to continue my acting.

Meeting Bill and Lee's children when they were very young was a wonderful experience. I still see Bill and Lee's daughter, Lauralee, at the gym. The last time I saw their son Brad, he was driving about 110 miles an hour down the Pacific Coast Highway in a charity race for the CHP (California Highway Patrol) 11-99 Foundation. I'd left Y&R years earlier, but I said to him, "I still want on the show!" He yelled back, "Anytime! The door is always open!"

I was on Y&R in 1980 when I called Bill and told him that producers wanted to cast me in Semi-Tough, a TV series on ABC with Markie Post that was based on the feature film from a few years earlier with Burt Reynolds and Jill Clayburgh. I told Bill that this was my dream and I really wanted to do it. I said I could do Y&R and the nighttime show at the same time. Bill said, "Yes, absolutely." He was the reason that I was able to do both shows. He and executive producer John Conboy could have exercised an option in my contract, but they didn't want to stand in my way.

We had the kind of relationship that's hard to come by in Hollywood.

Semi-Tough only ran for four episodes. I came back like a puppy dog with my tail between my legs, but Bill never made me feel like anything but a valued member of his Y&R family.

Being on Y&R was always a fun time. One of my best recollections was Snapper doing a very provocative demonstration of the Heimlich maneuver with his wife, Chris, played by the very attractive Trish Stewart. It seemed like Snapper and Chris were always in bed together. I used to say, "When the ratings are low, all the clothes go!" But the ratings never were low. Y&R was always at the top. I know it's remained on top of the world for thirty-nine years now, which is unbelievably amazing and a tribute to Bill Bell.

After I left Y&R, I landed the series Knight Rider. Then, I was cast on Baywatch and became executive producer in 1991. Critics said the show was about women in bikinis on the beach, but the real reason viewers came back each week was because of the relationship that my character, Mitch Buchannon, had with his son, Hobie, played by Jeremy Jackson. The relationship that Snapper had on Y&R with his son, Chuckie, whom he gave a kidney to, was a precursor of Mitch and Hobie.

I tried to put the same storytelling values that I learned from Bill into every Baywatch script. I made sure the stories had heart, humor, and action. On Baywatch, we had romance, not sex; action, not violence; and if anyone ever drowned, it happened off camera. I learned a lot about character development from being on Y&R and from Bill. I loved his tenacity and his fierce loyalty.

Bill invited me to host Y&R's twentieth anniversary party in March, 1993, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. I was honored. That was an amazing evening. Seeing Bill and Lee and their children and everyone from the show that night reminded me of my time at Y&R and the discipline I'd learned there. You can lose that when you go to primetime and surround yourself with enablers. You always need someone there to tell you the truth. Bill taught me that the truth was my friend. And he was always there to tell me the truth in a positive way.

Bill radiated a light that was so positive. I never saw him angry. Bill was a gentleman. He knew what he wanted, and he did everything with class.

It's an honor to be included in this biography.

Sincerely,

David Hasselhoff

David Hasselhoff played Dr. William "Snapper" Foster Jr. on The Young and the Restless from 1975–82 and again in 2010.

Customer Reviews

This book will give you all the answers.
Diane Orluck
I'm not an everyday fan of Y&R, but it was enjoyable to read about the creator and learn about the history of the show.
Betty Beasley
I followed all the soaps in French so the American story behind the scenes is really interesting.
Fred Bloggs

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Terrance Richard TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
"The Young and Restless Life of William J. Bell" is the autobiography of the man many belive, myself included, to be the best male writer American daytime soap operas has ever known. The book, which is co-written by Bill's wife Lee Phillip Bell and Michael Maloney, traces Bill's life in Chicago where he got his start working for the mother of serials Irna Philips who would become his mentor. It was through Irna that Bill learned the craft of soap opera story telling, something Agnes Nixon (creator of "All My Children") also experienced.

In the 1950's Bill was Irna's associate writer for CBS's "The Guiding Light" and he went on to write story and dialogue for the blockbuster soap "As the World Turns" upon its debut in 1956. Bill stayed with "World Turns" until 1966 when he received a call from Ted Corday who was trying to keep his soap "Days of Our Lives" from being cancelled. Unknown to Bill at the time Ted (with whom Bill worked with on "World Turns". Ted was a director) was dying and Ted asked if Bill could headwrite the new NBC soap. The next day Bill called Ted and said he would, much to the chagrin of Irna who though Bill would write both soaps, but Bill knew there was many things wrong with "Days" and he wanted to concentrate on it solely.

It was on "Days of Our Lives" that Bill really cut his teeth as a serial writer as almost immediately the actors knew the scripts improved dramatically and the ratings slowly rose. On this show Bill wrote stories with sexual themes and his storylines of brother vs. brother for the affections of a beautiful doctor (Mickey/Bill/Laura) and the battle between two former best friends for the love od a beautiful young man (Julie/Susan/David) saw the ratings go through the roof.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Eleanor Rigby on July 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
When I realized that Lee Phillip Bell had selected this author to write the book on her husband's impressive career and rise to the top, I knew it would be biased, of course. But what I didn't know until the first chapter in was how this one-sided view of facts and events would paint the entire book with a shallowness and superficiality that was disappointing.

With admiration and awe dripping from every word, the author misses opportunities to delve more deeply into conflicts and behind-the-scenes insights that would have enriched the story-telling for the reader.

As a long-time fan of both Y&R and B&B, I did find the book overall enjoyable, but it left me wanting more. There is very little, if anything, in this book that one couldn't find on the Internet, and that is unfortunate.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By BrodyIan on July 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
What a great read. An amazing story of a man and his show written as well as anything in this genre I've ever read.
I highly recommend this to anyone. If you loved Y&R, B&B, or any daytime drama, for that matter, it's a must read.
Well written and tough to put down. I can't say enough good things about it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Fred Bloggs on August 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book is FASCINATING. Absolutely could not put it down. I followed all the soaps in French so the American story behind the scenes is really interesting. Simone HJ. San francisco
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kathy L on July 26, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you've ever been a Bill Bell fan, you'll find this book very interesting. He was great at what he did, and on top of all that, it seems that he was as nice as he was rich and successful.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Sylviastel VINE VOICE on June 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you don't know William J. Bell, then you don't watch soaps. In fact, William J. Bell and his beloved wife, Lee Phillip, developed and created "The Young and The Restless" and "The Bold and the Beautiful" which are both ranked number one and two in soap opera ratings even before the extinction of American soaps.

William J. Bell was mentored by Chicago soap mother,creator, writer, and visionary producer Irna Phillips, who wasn't an easy woman but an incredible genius who mentored William J. Bell and Agnes Nixon (creator and head writer of All My Children and One Life To Live). They were her proteges and a reminder of the old triumvirate of daytime dramatic television.

William J. Bell married the lovely Lee Phillip, a Chicago television personality for thirty years before Oprah Winfrey. They are the parents of William J. Bell Jr., Lauralee Bell, and Bradey Bell.

Their partnership onscreen and offscreen have created two soaps, "The Young and The Restless" and "The Bold and the Beautiful." After years of writing for Irna, Bill finally got a chance to write and create his own soap.

"The Young and the Restless" debuted in 1973 and took only a few years before becoming the first in the soap opera ratings. Unlike the other soaps, "The Young and The Restless" was definitely different drama in terms of storytelling, characters, and style. His show had a different feel that was largely masculine, cold, dark, and distant at times but his characters were realistic, appealing, and very identifiable to audiences for years.

His stories were written carefully and character driven. Some story lines even took years to develop and unfold for audiences but they were well worth the wait in gold to finally see fruition.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Firestarter on September 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was very interesting. I've always been interested in the workings of soap operas (sadly a dying genre). This book provided some much need insight. William J. Bell (creator of The Young and The Restless and The Bold and The Beautiful) is a legend in his own right (R.I.P). I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about his life.
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