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Soap opera creator Lee Phillip Bell

Lee Phillip Bell (1928–2020), co-creator of “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful”

by Linnea Crowther

Lee Phillip Bell was a producer and talk show host who co-created the popular soap operas “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful” along with her husband, William J. Bell. She also hosted the Chicago-based talk shows “Mornin’ Miss Lee” and “The Lee Phillip Show,” which later became “Noonbreak.”

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Died: February 25, 2020 (Who else died on February 25?)

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Details of death: Died in Los Angeles at the age of 91.


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“First Lady of Chicago Television”: Bell was a fixture of Chicago daytime television for decades — “The Lee Phillip Show” ran for more than 30 years and featured guests including Lucille Ball, Judy Garland, and President Jimmy Carter. While she was talking about the issues of the day, her husband was writing for soap operas including “Guiding Light” and “As the World Turns.” She provided him with ideas for storylines that were sparked by the conversations on her show. The two struck out on their own with the 1973 creation of “The Young and the Restless,” later launching “The Bold and the Beautiful” in 1987. On their shows, the Bells addressed social issues that soap operas had rarely tackled before. Bell won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series for “The Young and the Restless” in 1977, and in 2007, she was honored with the Daytime Emmys’ Lifetime Achievement Award.

Bell on the tough topics she and her husband wove into their soap operas: “We thought that they should be talked about. We thought that people should be aware of things like date rape and cults and runaway children. They should know about them and what they can do about it. We used to get just tons of mail thanking us for doing those things. And we’d write them so they were interesting.” —From a 2007 interview with The Hollywood Reporter

What people said about her: “We are all devastated by the passing of Lee Phillip Bell. A television pioneer and powerhouse in her own right, she elevated daytime television in co-creating ‘The Young and the Restless’ with her equally iconic husband, Bill Bell. We sadly mourn our true matriarch.” —“The Young and the Restless” star Melody Thomas Scott

“I am very sad to hear of the passing of Lee Phillip Bell. I will always remember her grace and generosity over many years. R.I.P.” —“The Bold and the Beautiful” star Ian Buchanan

Full obituary: Chicago Sun-Times

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