Notable for his twentieth-century novels The Breed of Basil, The Second Prince, Out of This Furnace, and There Comes a Time, he is perhaps best known for his works All Brides Are Beautiful and Till I Come Back to You, which were adapted into a motion picture and a Broadway play, respectively.
During his teen years, he worked in Pennsylvania's steel mills. At the age of nineteen, he relocated to New York and held a number of odd jobs, including bookstore employee and mechanic.
His posthumously-published memoir, In the Midst of Life, details his end-of-life battle with cancer.
The child of Austro-Hungarian immigrant parents Michael Belejcak and Mary Krachun, he spent his childhood in Braddock, Pennsylvania. He later settled in California with his wife, Marie.
From This Day Forward, the 1946 cinematic adaptation of Bell's novel All Brides Are Beautiful, starred actress Joan Fontaine.