Lee Phillip Bell
Credit: Tibrina Hobson/FilmMagic

Lee Phillip Bell, who co-created CBS’ flagship soap operas The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful with her husband, William J. Bell, died Tuesday in Los Angeles. She was 91.

“Our mother was a loving and supportive wife, mother, and grandmother,” Bell’s family said in a statement. “Gracious and kind, she enriched the lives of all who knew her. We will miss her tremendously.”

A cause of death was not immediately disclosed.

Born in Chicago in 1928, Bell began her television career at the city’s WBBM-TV station in the 1950s, becoming a well-known presence for more than 30 years and earning the moniker “the First Lady of Chicago television.” Her talk show, The Lee Phillip Show, became a fixture of Chicago daytime TV, with many high-profile guests, including Lucille Ball, Judy Garland, President Richard Nixon, and President Jimmy Carter. It was also notable for tackling contemporary social issues, which Bell also explored through numerous specials and documentaries, covering such topics as foster children, prison life, and divorce.

In 1954, she married advertising agent William J. Bell, who went on to write for soap operas such as Guiding Light and As the World Turns. In 1973, the couple created their own soap opera, The Young and the Restless, which has run continuously on CBS since then and has held the title of top-rated soap opera for more than three decades. The Bells also created its sister series, The Bold and the Beautiful, in 1987.

Lee Bell won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series for The Young and the Restless in 1975, and received the Daytime Emmys’ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

Bell’s husband died in 2005. She is survived by her children William James Bell, Bradley Phillip Bell, and Lauralee Bell Martin, and eight grandchildren.

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