Bell is the daughter of a Scottish father and Iranian mother. Her parents divorced and she and her mother moved to Los Angeles, California when she was three years old. She became a naturalized citizen of the United States at age 12. She acted in various television advertisements as a child. She attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with an interest in becoming a biomedical engineer or doctor but dropped out to become a model. One of her first modelling jobs was an extended assignment in Japan.
Her first appearance in a film was as a body double for Isabella Rossellini in Death Becomes Her (1992). In 2003, Bell played a supporting role in the comedy Bruce Almighty, which starred Jim Carrey. Up until April 29, 2005, Bell also played Marine Lt Colonel Sarah McKenzie on the television show JAG.
Bell is fluent in Farsi (Persian) and English.
Bell married Adam Beason on 1994-05-08. They have a daughter, Gemma, who was born on 2003-04-16.
Bell is a survivor of thyroid cancer and had to have her thyroid removed in her 20s. She has a surgical scar on her neck.
On September 14, 2006, Reuters/Hollywood Reporter announced that Catherine Bell had joined the cast of Lifetime’s ensemble drama pilot “Army Wives”. In the projected series, Sally Pressman stars as a sassy woman from the wrong side of the tracks who marries a soldier, moves her kids to a military base and becomes friends with a diverse group of Army wives, three of them played by Bell, Kim Delaney and Brigid Brannagh.
In a departure from the headstrong Lt. Col. Sarah Mackenzie she portrayed on CBS’ “JAG,” on “Army Wives” Bell will play the wife of a major — a devoted homemaker who is enduring physical abuse at the hands of her teenage son.