Auto salesman 'Bob' Bell, known for TV commercials, dies at 78

Robert L. "Bob" Bell, who began his career in auto sales in the 1950s which later grew into the Bob Bell Automotive Group, died Sunday of leukemia at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

He was 78.

Mr. Bell was best known for his appearances in TV ads for his dealerships dressed in a pink tuxedo and playing a piano.

A University of Virginia graduate and a Korean War veteran, Mr. Bell went to work selling cars for the Ford Motor Co. in 1956. He opened his own agency, Academy Ford, in Laurel in 1963.

The Ellicott City resident was a member of St. Louis Roman Catholic Church, 2500 Clarksville Pike, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

Surviving are his wife of 60 years, the former Rosemarie Carter; five daughters, Susan Davis of Columbia, Nancy Fitzpatrick of Woodbine, Mary Catherine Bishop of Ellicott City, Patricia Flynn of Herndon, Va. , and Teresa Moorby of Grantwood, Tenn.; 19 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.