Lost in Space

The unacknowledged son of one of America's most popular talk show hosts works in the mailroom at Philadelphia magazine.

By Steve Volk
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 22 | Posted Jul. 4, 2007

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Vincent Pontius shows off a picture of his sister, who was first among them to speak to their father, Art Bell.

As a kid Vincent Pontius watched In Search of ... religiously, reveling in the show's mixture of myth and mystery. Did the lost city of Atlantis ever exist? How were the pyramids of Egypt built? Were growing reports of UFO-related abductions real? What about unknown animals, like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster? What happens to us when we die?

Pontius ate it all up and asked for seconds. He read fantasy novels and later, as an adult, followed The X-Files right down to the final, almost universally unwatched episodes.

Exploring the fantastic offered refuge to a kid whose life was always overly complicated.

He and his younger sister grew up without knowing their birth father, a man who left when Pontius was just 3 years old. His mother remarried about two years later but that man left when Pontius was around 13.

Issues? Pontius had them. Trust issues. Abandonment issues. He always needed to be in a relationship. He just couldn't maintain one. Both he and his sister say they were sexually abused in the years after their birth father left. (The person they allege preyed upon them isn't named anywhere in this article because no criminal charges have been filed.) Only the last few years have brought him any peace.

Two years ago he discovered he had a 12-year-old daughter of his own. He's now 41, married, the father of a little girl he didn't know existed until recently, and he and his wife are expecting a child of their own in January. He supervises the mailroom at Philadelphia magazine, tucked away in a windowless office on the 36th floor of a sleek city office tower that boasts views stretching miles.

His interest in the paranormal continues unabated. In some ways that facet of his personality may seem more important now than it did when he was a child. Because about 10 years ago his sister made contact with their birth father, who was by then the king of the paranormal--radio talk show legend Art Bell.

Bell founded the Coast to Coast radio show, specializing in paranormal topics, in the '90s, tapping into an interest in UFOs and ghosts that few before knew existed on quite this scale. Though he's been in a kind of semiretirement for several years now, broadcasting mostly on the weekends, the Coast brand has continued on, hosted by George Noory and available in Philadelphia on 1210 WPHT-AM from 2 to 5 a.m. weekdays. The show's website lists roughly 520 affiliates, literally extending from coast to coast, uniting millions of listeners around the subject of the paranormal, and potentially casting some light on Pontius' paranormal fixation.

"I don't know," says Pontius. "Does it explain anything?"

He finds it hard to believe his father's interests could've been passed on to him--by nature or nurture. Strangely enough, his sister harbors the same interests, saying she "got used to being the only girl in the science-fiction aisle at the bookstore."

"I have no memory of him whatsoever," says Vincent Pontius. "The first time I ever saw him was on the Larry King show, after my sister had found him."

When Lisa Minei contacted Bell a second time, he sent a letter along with a copy of his autobiography.

According to Pontius' mother Sachiko Toguchi, when they married she was 22 and Bell was 20. They met in Japan, where Bell served in the Air Force, and moved back to the States after marrying. Vincent Michael Bell was born in 1965, in Newark, N.J., but the trio moved back to Okinawa when Toguchi grew homesick.

The marriage lasted only a few years. Toguchi says that after she gave birth to Vincent's sister Lisa, Bell told her he was leaving.

"He told me he thought he could [be a husband and father], but he couldn't do it," says Sachiko Toguchi during a phone interview from Camp Hill, Pa. "Having two kids, a wife, he was not up to it. It was too much for him. I think he was [caught between] being a boy and a man."

Bell, for his part, acknowledges fathering both Vincent, whom he calls "Michael," and Lisa during a phone interview with PW. He declines to talk about why the relationship ended. "That was 40 years ago," he says. "I'm not sure what purpose it serves."

Toguchi was left to take care of two small children on her own. When she remarried about two years later, her new husband adopted the kids, freeing Bell from any legal obligations. Bell started living the life that made him famous.

His online bio says he was a licensed FCC technician by age 13, and that as a DJ in Okinawa he landed in the Guinness Book of Records for a 116-hour-15-minute solo broadcast marathon. (The bio makes no mention of a wife or children at that time.)

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Comments 1 - 22 of 22
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1. Jay said... on Jun 21, 2008 at 02:03AM

“Wow, it's nice to hear "the rest of the story". I listen to C2C regurlarly. I always liked Art Bell, but I think my thoughts about him are forever changed after reading this article. I mean, what a dishonorable thing to do, for a person like him not to want to even be so charitable as to give a grieving heart some reprieve... and relieve someone else's suffering, even just a little. And he wouldn't have had to even lift a finger...just speaking to his son might have gone a long way in helping alleviate some of the anguish of growing up not ever knowing your father. Shame on Art Bell.”

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2. JOHN MERMONT said... on Jul 8, 2008 at 03:24AM

“I always felt & believed that Art Bell is a racist! He was married & is married to Asians but he writes negative articles & e-mails about Asians... is this how he shows love to his loved ones... to his family... by insulting & destroying their culture..???? (I am referring to the OPEN LETTER (The Hate E-mail ) he wrote to Filipinos... it was realluy full of hate... So why is he married to a Filipina??) Reading this story further cements the negative impression i have on Art Bell! I think he's A SICKOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! SHAME ON YOU ART BELL! DIE IN SHAME RACIST!”

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3. Mike said... on Aug 17, 2008 at 10:36PM

“I heard he wrote no such letter...It was a hoax.”

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4. tinna said... on Sep 10, 2008 at 05:40PM

“This is aweful. This man should be hurting for HIS children. What kind of monster is he? He is beyond help. I use to religiously listen for 13 years to this late night paranormal show, I am NEVER listening to any of the shows hosted by this man of neglect. The nerve of leaving out those children must hurt them like crazy. His arrogance is so unbelieveable. Boy. I never knew he could be so.....hard hearted. Hey. Bell, it's about the KIDS, okay? Your kids. sicko”

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5. Jayne said... on Sep 16, 2008 at 07:58PM

“Interesting story. Art Bell is a great radio personality and very complex man. I don't understand how creating two kids and not seeing them or contacting them over the course of 40 years doesn't constitute abandonment. I hope his kids find or have some peace. It would be nice if Art would come to his senses.”

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6. dentoku said... on Dec 31, 2008 at 12:44PM

“John Mermont: You need to do some due diligence and get your stories straight. The FBI investigated the anti-Filipino hate mail supposedly authored by Bell and learned that it came from a computer in the student library on the campus of San Diego State University. It was hate mail, okay, but hate mail hoaxed against Art Bell to discredit him with the Filipino community - completely proven to be false. Art Bell went through hell and high water over that and continues to because of uninfomed commentary like your's above - the story has taken on a life of it's own, so to speak. On the surface it seems like that Vincent, the son, suffered a great deal trying to figure out who he was and is, all complicated by the fact that his father turned out to be a famous person. I wonder if he would have felt quite the same if his father was just an ordinary guy, though. I surely don't condone a cool or stand-offish attitude toward Bell's kids by him, but I haven't walked in his shoes. Life can be tough and if the son, or daughter for that matter, was/is hostile or angry after all this time, it's not easy to put that to rest or in the proper context. I'm sure that Bell is struggling to cope with all this and am equally sure that it will probably turn out okay in the end. Life can throw anyone some real curve balls, and will if given half a chance. I completely understand Bell's feelings that he would be better off leaving his kids alone after the remarriage of his ex-wife if they he had been informed they were doing well - and I'm equally sure it wasn't a necessarily easy decision for him to make. The very same thing happened to me and I learned many years later that I should probably have stayed involved as well, but it's all water over the dam and impossible to go back. So, back to the main point, cut Bell some slack and do your homework a little better, why not. The truth is all readily available on the internet in a simple Google search. Nuff said.”

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7. dentoku said... on Dec 31, 2008 at 12:50PM

“Get real Jayne, can't you even read. He didn't abandon them. They were adopted by his ex-wife's new husband, for crying out loud. This means that he no longer had any legal access to them even if he had wanted it. My god, where do they find you people. Knee-jerking such reactions without even thinking. Hopefully, since all this had now come to light, a positive resolution might come to the fore - but it won't happen over night. I believe Art Bell is a good man. Listening to him express his views and opinions over the years - you can't fake that. Give the guy a chance. ”

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8. dentoku said... on Dec 31, 2008 at 12:56PM

“My heart goes out to Vincent and his siter too. But trust me, there's always more to the story. I firmly believe that Art Bell is a good and decent man. Sure he's made his mistakes, like all of us have. Anyone who reaches 60+ years of age and can look back at their whole life and not be horrified at some of the bone-headed decision and actions they've taken over they years is either not truthful or is living in a highly protected circumstance with little opportunity to screw up. I've listened to Bell for ten years or more and think I know him pretty well. You can't fake it that well all that time. He's a good man, I believe, and I also believe that all this will eventually come out ok. Stay tuned if you can. ”

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9. caoaiscal said... on Jan 31, 2009 at 09:02PM

“You are Bell's fan, not his shrink or his family so please don't claim to know him so well. It is sickening. Try being in their shoes. Believe what you want. His kids mean nothing to him and that makes him a TOTAL LOSER! ”

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10. Anonymous said... on May 19, 2009 at 02:16AM

“I am a fan of Art Bell. It is not honorable to leave the mother of your children because you have decided being a husband and father is too much. But would Art Bell today make that same choice? Probably not. He was young at the time and not ready to step up to the plate and be a full fledged man. He probably honestly DID feel they were better off without him. Either way though, the past is the past and sometimes the best way to remedy wrong doings in the past is to forge a new friendship in the future. I wish the best to Art and all of his children and may he and Vincent find a relationship with some ground that they are mutually happy on.”

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11. Anonymous said... on Jan 3, 2010 at 09:20PM

“If Art Bell is a nice man as some feel he is-why is he leaving all his kids out of his will, except this last one? Art Bell states in his will that his wife and child of just recent marriage are the only ones to benefit-the other 4 children are left out. That is like saying those other children mean nothing to him and they don't exist. Watch out to the new wife-Art Bell has had lots of wives and children and could dump you as easily-and, quickly take you and your daughter out of the will and then add another wife in-yet to come. Oops! showing art's evil side. Mr Bell is not a nice man.”

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12. Chainsaw said... on Mar 3, 2011 at 12:24AM

“I was forced out of my marriage and abused by my now ex wife. I am now able to see my two boys that are now 18 and 17. I was so ashamed of being abused. I used to make fun of a fellow servicemean in the Army for his wife hurting him with bruises, black eyes and even broken bones. Like he had any power to stop her.

I don't know if this was happening to Art, but this was a sample of just one reason to keep it quiet and discreet. Who wants to have to say bad things about another if they don't have to.

There are plenty of reasons to leave and not want to talk about it forty years later and besides it really is none of our business. Put your life out there for extreme examination and let's see how you feel!”

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13. Kevin Bell said... on Mar 14, 2012 at 08:07PM

“I think, Art Bell has at least 1 more kid!! It would be me.... I was born 1971 in Santa Barbara, After Art Bell left my mom Haruko Nakaoshi and me... Went to back to Okinawa, Japan. I have no memory of Art Bell at all.”

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14. Anonymous said... on Jan 21, 2013 at 01:53AM

“none of us know the reason art and his son dont speak or see eachother, dont be so quick to judge the man, you dnt know what his son did to him or what art did to his son, dont let some random article you read on the internet change your thouhts about a person forever”

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15. Anonymous said... on Jun 30, 2013 at 06:57PM

“I think I might be Art Bell's child. I was born in area 51 and my mother was from Mars. Other than my green complexion I fit into the Las Vegas scene pretty well having made my career running a pawn shop.”

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16. geo said... on Jul 9, 2013 at 11:48PM

“Don't be so quick to judge Art. I could hear his pain when he said he thought they were happy without him. I'm speaking as a divorced husband and father of a beautiful three year old girl. Nobody knows the whole story here except Art and his first wife. I feel compassion for everyone involved here.”

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17. elaina said... on Jul 30, 2013 at 11:43AM

“My opinion of Mr. Bell has certainly changed; he seems cold, self-absorbed, uncaring, pios and the list goes on...any man can 'father a child' but a REAL MAN can be a 'father'....shame on you, Mr. Bell - these hears refuse to listen to you on my radio any more; how could I listen? You have no heart....pity.”

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18. City Kitty said... on Aug 5, 2013 at 01:56PM

“Art Bell only rears his ugly head when he wants to get back in the spotlight. George Noory has taken the c2c radio show to heights bell can only dream of! Shame on bell for neglecting his own Family! And George Noory I just love your new show "beyond belief" on Giam television!”

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19. Just too many years said... on Sep 22, 2013 at 10:08PM

“My father and mother divorced when I was 2. I also had a hole in my life growing up. Although stepfather adopted me he never showed the love to me that he did with my half syblings. At age 20 I finally met my father and through the years my "other" half syblings. My father and I never came close to being close. So very sad. But now have more family than I ever thought of. And finally found out I wasn't all that different.”

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20. Raider said... on Apr 30, 2014 at 12:08PM

“City Kitty, the audience size of Bell vs Noory is a great comparrison tool. Present C2C ratings are less than one-million listeners. Bell however carried hundreds more affiliate stations with more than fifteen-million listeners. Sorry, your take is errant and uninformed. Bell is better, by the numbers.”

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21. Anonymous said... on Mar 12, 2015 at 11:36PM

“i love zrt bell... none of you were there so you cannot speak for him or”

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22. madonna said... on Oct 20, 2015 at 02:19AM

“I always liked Art. He was married to Ramona for many many years...he raised her son as his own and defended his rights and honor as a minor when all that mess came out about him being sexually abused by a teacher if memory servescme correctly. ..but when Ramona died her son disappeared with no word about him from Art to this day. Art has a history of being able to turn his back on children no matter their age. He did abandon his son and daughter just because they were adopted doesn't mean that up to that point they hadn't been abandoned if you don't like that term then lets use deserted they both carry the same weight and like it or not Art Bell is guilty as charged further more yes there are two sides to every story BUT up until his son and daughter were adopted he never contributed to their support, SHAME on him all the way around. Art is still missed and always will be on C2C but it doesn't alter the fact that there are two sides to Mr. Bell one I'll always like and the other, not!”


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