William J. Bell died Friday at UCLA Medical Center of complications from Alzheimer's disease, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.
Bell won nine Emmys and a lifetime achievement award in 1992 for his work over more than four decades as creator, producer and writer of the daytime dramas.
Born in Chicago, Bell grew up listening to radio soap operas after school. After a stint in the navy, he met Irna Phillips, creator of "The Guiding Light," in 1954 and went to work for her as a writer two years later.
In 1966, he took the job of head writer on NBC's faltering, 26-week-old "Days of Our Lives" series. Changes in cast, writing and story lines brought about by Bell are credited with making it one of the highest-rated shows in daytime television within four years.
While still "Days" head writer, he went on to co-create "The Young and the Restless," which received numerous Emmy Awards over the years, including six for outstanding drama series.
Bell is survived by his wife, Lee; daughter, Lauralee; and sons, Bill and Bradley -- all of whom are involved in his daytime empire.