The daytime community is mourning the passing of Lee Phillip Bell, who passed away on February 25, 2020, at age 91. Bell's children, William James Bell, Bradley Phillip Bell, and Lauralee Bell Martin shared, "Our mother was a loving and supportive wife, mother and grandmother. 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 was co-creator, along with her late husband, William J. Bell, of two of daytime television's most successful dramas: The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful.
Bell's career as a broadcast journalist began in Chicago, where she hosted and produced her own show, The Lee Phillip Show, for CBS TV for over 30 years. A pioneer in the evolution of the afternoon talk show format, Bell was a trailblazer in the exploration of timely social issues and concerns. Additionally, she produced and narrated numerous award-winning specials and documentaries covering social concerns such as foster children, rape, children and divorce, and babies born to women in prison, to name a few.
Bell interviewed heads of state such as Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan; film actors Judy Garland, Clint Eastwood, and Jerry Lewis; musicians such as The Rolling Stones and The Beatles; television and stage stars such as Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, and Oprah Winfrey; and many other politicians, authors, journalists, fashion designers, and rock stars.
She was awarded 16 regional (Chicago) Emmy awards and numerous Golden Mike awards. Bell is also the recipient of the Alfred I. Dupont/Columbia University Award for the special The Rape of Paulette, the first program in Chicago to explore the issue. In 1977, she was the first woman to receive the coveted 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. Bell 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.
In addition to her children, Lee Phillip Bell is survived by her daughters-in-law Maria Arena Bell and Ambassador Colleen Bell, her son-in-law Scott Martin, and eight grandchildren.
As you might expect, the reaction to the passing of an iconic member of the daytime family was immediate and heartfelt. Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki Newman) said that the cast and crew of Y&R were "all devastated by the passing of Lee Phillip Bell." Jess Walton (Jill Abbott) called Bell "a kind, gentle and very smart lady." Doug Davidson (Paul Williams) found it more difficult to express his feelings and instead posted a photo of himself with Lauralee Bell and Lee Phillip Bell with the caption "words cannot express."
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. ?????? pic.twitter.com/V5nUaz4N5E— Melody Thomas Scott (@MelodyThomasSco) February 26, 2020
RIP to the great Lee Bell. One of the finest women I have ever known. A kind, gentle and very smart lady.?? to her children and grandchildren and to all who knew her. pic.twitter.com/7Teg6dYavq— Jess Walton (@JessWaltonYR) February 26, 2020
??words cannot express...?? pic.twitter.com/JWLcKDYZKT— Doug Davidson (@DougDavidsonYR) February 27, 2020
Lee Bell was a pioneer in television & the strength behind Bill Bell & his creative vision. All of this while raising 3 amazing, giving, brilliant children. What a rich, full life she created. This is the end of an era... I owe my entire life to Bill and Lee. God Speed #YR— Michelle Stafford (@TheRealStafford) February 26, 2020
Lee Bell was an icon and a pioneer and a sweet wonderful woman. Sending love to @LauraleeB4real and the whole Bell family. I’m so sorry for your loss??— Melissa Claire Egan (@MClaireEgan) February 26, 2020
On a day like this, and for a woman like her, there is an emotional symmetry we all feel—between the deep sadness of loss, and the piercing gratitude for what she’s bequeathed to us: hope, love, and a thousand adventures that can never be taken away.— Scott Clifton (@CliftonsNotes) February 26, 2020
Lee Bell made us all rich. https://t.co/ao1DRfgAhT
We are deeply saddened by the news of the passing of a member of our CBS family and Daytime community, Emmy Award winning broadcast journalist, and co-creator of Y&R and B&B, Lee Phillip Bell. She was a pioneer in television and will be missed dearly. pic.twitter.com/6BYpUYQwaU— Young and Restless (@YandR_CBS) February 26, 2020
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