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: 19 | Posted Jul. 4, 2007

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In the couple of months since PW first contacted Pontius, the son has finally spoken to his birth father. For him, the conversation didn't go quite as he'd hoped. "I just didn't get the sense that he was really all that interested," says Pontius.

Bell has also spoken to PW several times, and though he's requested most of the interviews remain off the record, he did leave several phone messages for Pontius after that first conversation, a fact Pontius confirms. He says his son seemed "angry."

Bell himself says he was shaken up by the news that his birth children had been sexually abused. "I was horrified," says Bell. "All of this is news to me. When I did talk to Vincent, the first 80 percent of our conversation was about the abuse. I just couldn't believe it because I had the opposite information. And I think what happened to him has a lot to do with his anger."

He says he'd stayed away from his ex-wife and kids because the information he had is that they were happy without him. "I just figured everyone had gotten on with their lives," says Bell. "Until I got a phone call from [PW], the last conversation I had with my ex-wife was that she had remarried and that it would be best if I just let them be."

Pontius says he walked around for many years with a hole inside him he couldn't fill. Bell raised him until he was 3 years old, an age when a child's parents pretty much constitute their whole world.

Myrna Shure, a professor of child psychology at Drexel University and the author of Thinking Parent, Thinking Child, says that on one hand a child might be "better off" if a man capable of leaving him and never speaking to him again for 38 years is simply out of his life for good. But having Bell around the first three years of his life means that Pontius went through his most formative years with a man who suddenly disappeared.

"He suffered a loss," she says, "and in a normal divorce situation the child can be told, 'This is about Mommy and Daddy. They can't live together, but Mommy still loves you, Daddy still loves you.' But if Daddy isn't there, you can't say that. The child's going to think, 'Daddy doesn't love me, and that's why he's not coming back.'"

For Pontius, finding out who his father was led to some surreally difficult moments. He recalls receiving a phone call from his sister in 1999, telling him their father was going to be on CNN's Larry King Live. "It was the first time I ever got to see him move and talk," he says. "And I--I taped it, and I watched everything about him--his mannerisms, the sound of his voice--trying to see if I could see anything of myself in him."

Could he? "I don't know," he says. "You tell me."

Still a sci-fi fan, he was also a regular viewer of the TV show Millennium when Bell turned up on an episode playing himself. "I didn't know he was going to be on," says Pontius, "and all of a sudden there he was."

That appearance affected him in ways he can't describe. "I didn't sleep," he says. "For days. I was just ... I don't know what I was feeling. It messed me up."

Seeing the father he'd never met on a TV series he regularly watched was something he just couldn't process. He says he made his own attempts to contact Bell over the years with no success. He tried emailing him through the Coast to Coast website, and received no reply, which is perhaps not surprising given the sheer volume of emails Bell says he receives.

Then in May of last year he sent a letter to Bell at his address in Pahrump, Nev. Bell was living in Manila in the Philippines with his new wife Airyn at the time (The talk show host moved his wife to the U.S. in December) and says he never received it.

In the end, after PW contacted Bell, the talk show host immediately suggested this reporter give his son his phone number. Both say the ensuing conversation involved a lot of talk about what had happened 40 years ago; what led to the dissolution of the marriage with Toguchi; and why Bell had never made further contact with his children on his own.

"I started the conversation by saying, 'This is Sachiko's son,'" recalls Pontius of his single conversation with Bell. "I felt so disconnected by not having known Art senior, and I guess I feel liberated because not having heard from him haunted me for, like, 35 years. I saw flashes of emotion from him here and there. Maybe the first 20 minutes I sensed a little guilt, but he never apologized for leaving me, my mother and my sister."

Bell says, "I guess I wasn't ready to apologize for something I didn't know I had done. I'm not the kind of person who abandons people, and I didn't think I had abandoned them."

While the hour-long conversation between father and son hasn't led to any ongoing relationship, at least for now, Pontius calls the experience cathartic. "I'd been waiting so long to talk to him," he says, "for some kind of acknowledgement from him, and now after that one conversation I feel like I can move on with my life."


So why go public now? "Because it's the truth," says Pontius.

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 19 of 19
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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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