Ted Turner is a media proprietor and producer who is best known as the founder of the Cable News Network (CNN) and WTBS, which later became known as TBS. Turner was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on November 19, 1938. His father was a billboard magnate, and he was raised in Georgia from the age of nine. He is now the chairman of multiple organizations, including Turner Enterprises, the united Nation Foundation, the Nuclear Threat Initiative, and the Tuner Foundation. This means he has become a high-profile figure across the globe with fame that has far outreached recognition only in business circles. As one of the most successful and wealthy men in the world, he has attracted a lot of attention. Despite his worldwide recognition, there are plenty of things that people do not know about this man. Here are 10 interesting facts that you probably didn’t know about Ted Turner.
1. Turner Has Several Nicknames
Ted Turner’s full name is Robert Edward Turner III. He was named after his father, Robert Edward Turner II. He has always been known as Ted, which is short for his middle name, Edward. He has also been given several nicknames over the years that relate to various aspects of his personality or his business style. Some of the nicknames by which he is known include ‘Terrible Ted’, ‘Captain Outrageous’, and ‘Mouth of the South’.
2. He Has Been Married Three Times and Has Five Children
Turner has been married three times. His first wife was Julia Gayle Nye, who he married in 1960. They had two children together, Laura and Robert Edward IV, who is known as Teddy. A few years after having their children, the couple divorced. In 1964, he married for a second time to Janie Smith. They had two sons, Beau and Rhett, followed by a daughter, Jennie. Although they were married for more than 20 years, the marriage ended in divorce. In 1991, he married his third wife, actress Jane Fonda. The couple were married for ten years but had no children together. Turner and Fonda divorced in 2001. Although he is no longer married, he confessed in an interview with Piers Morgan that he has four girlfriends. Turner admitted that this was complicated, but said it was easier than being married.
3. He Founded a Chain of Restaurants
In 2010, Ted Turner opened his first restaurant with restaurateur George McKerrow Jr. This was called Ted’s Montana Grill and it was located in Columbus, Ohio. The restaurant chain expanded rapidly and there are now 46 restaurants across 16 states.
4. He is a Philanthropist
As a very wealthy man, Ted Turner has become a philanthropist and has supported many good causes over the years. He founded the Turner Foundation in 1990 with the aim of preserving and conserving the environment throughout the world, says KIMT3 News. In the 1990s, Turner gave $1 billion to the United Nations. At that time, it was one of the biggest philanthropic gestures ever made. In 2001, he donated $31 million to the United States government so that they could pay off a debt to the United Nations. He has also pledged to give $10 million of his fortune to the United Nations every year until his death.
5. He Was a Rebel at University
Turner attended Brown University and was initially studying classics. His father was distressed at his son’s choice of study, so Turner switched to economics to placate his father. In the end, it didn’t matter what subject he had studied as he was suspended from the university in 1959 after a woman was found in his dorm, and he then decided to leave the university on his own terms. Although he did not finish university, it did not adversely affect Turner’s career. He was later awarded honorary baccalaureate and doctorate degrees from Brown University.
6. Sailing is One of His Passions
One of Ted Turner’s greatest passions is sailing, and this is something that he has always enjoyed in his spare time. He began entering sailing competitions at the Savannah Yacht Club when he was 26, and in 1964, he competed in the Olympic trials. In 1977, he won the America’s Cup, which is one of the most prestigious sailing competitions. The yacht in which he sailed was called ‘Courageous’, and he had the name of his yacht emblazoned on the sweater he wore during the competition. He had previously attempted to win the cup in 1974 but was unsuccessful on that occasion. He won the Fastnet Race in 1979 with the challenge of sailing through a storm that killed 15 of the competition’s participants. Due to his sailing prowess, Turner was inducted into America’s Cup Hall of Fame in 1993. He has also been inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame in 2011.
7. He Was Considered Sexy
Although he is now in his eighties, Ted Turner is still a fine-looking man. When he was younger, he was widely considered sex, which attracted the attention of both women and the media. In fact, he was voted as one of the nation’s top 10 sexiest men in Playgirl magazine in 1980.
8. He Has Won Multiple Awards
Throughout his life, Turner has enjoyed many achievements, and he has received various awards in recognition of these. In 1991, Time Magazine named him the Man of the Year, and he was the first media figure to be given this accolade. He was then awarded the Peabody Award in 1998, followed by the Sports Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014. The following year, he was the recipient of the News & Documentary Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award. He has had a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame since 2004.
9. He Has Owned Sports Teams
Turner is a huge fan of sports, so it is hardly surprising that he has used his wealth to buy sports teams. According to AJC, Ted Turner has owned both the Atlanta Braves and the Atlanta Hawks. He bought the Atlanta Braves baseball team first back in 1977, and then later bought Atlanta Hawks in 1982. At the same time as he owned the Atlanta Hawks, Turner also owned Atlanta’s Channel 17. Andy Messersmith was the player who wore the number 17 jersey, and Turner suggested he should have the word channel stitched above the number as an advertising campaign.
10. He Does Not Have Bipolar Disorder
A common misconception is that Ted Turner has bipolar depression. This rumor was fuelled by accusations of him only marrying Jane Fonda because he hadn’t taken his lithium. There is an element of truth behind the belief that he has bipolar as he was once diagnosed with this condition. However, it later came to light that he was misdiagnosed, and this was confirmed by the Manager of Corporate Entertainment at Turner Enterprises, Inc., Baldwin Chambers.
11. He Was Once a Coast Guard
NNN.com says that after Ted Turner left Brown University, he served in the military as a U.S. Coast Guard. This was something that he had always wanted to do, but it was against his father’s wishes as his strict father wanted him to pursue a more academic route.
12. Turner Founded the Goodwill Games
In 1986, Ted Turner founded the Goodwill Games, which is an international sports competition that is similar to the Olympics. The first destination in which this event took place was in Moscow. The event took place every few years and was hosted in a different location each time. The Goodwill Games ended in 2001.
13. He Owns the Rights to Thousands of Films
Ted Turner bought MGM/UA for $1.5 billion in 1986. This meant that he owned the rights to thousands of films and the television library. Although he sold the company back to investor Kirk Kerkorian, Turner retained the rights to many of the premerger films and television library. One of the films for which he owns the television rights is the classic film ‘Gone with the Wind’.
14. He Had a Cameo in a Film
Despite being known for his business prowess and not his acting skills, Ted Turner has had a cameo role in a film. He played a soldier in the 2003 biographical drama film ‘Gods and Generals’. This film was written and directed by Ron Maxwell. Set during the Civil War, the film is based on the book of the same name by Jeffrey M. Shaara. The movie starred Stephen Lang, Robert Duvall, and Jeff Daniels.
15. He Has Walked a Catwalk
Unlikely though it may seem, Ted Turner has some experience of modeling as he has walked the catwalk. In 2005, he supported the Dressed to Kilt charity at one of their events by becoming one of their models for the night. He strutted down the catwalk wearing a rather fetching khaki kilt with a coordinating wax jacket. His look was completed with a flat cap and a pair of knee-high brown leather boots.
16. He Owns 15 Ranches
Turner has used a lot of his wealth to buy land, so he has become the biggest landowner in the United States. Through Turner Enterprises, he currently owns 15 ranches. These are in South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Montana, New Mexico, and Nebraska. In total, his ranches cover 1,910,585 acres. The largest of his ranches is Vermejo Park Ranch in New Mexico. This is the largest privately-owned, contiguous tract of land in the United States, and it covers 920 square miles.
17. He Has a Road Named After Him
Turner has had the honor of having a road named after him. City leaders in Atlanta decided to rename a stretch of road in downtown Atlanta as Ted Turner Drive in July 2015. This stretch of road is directly opposite one of his Ted’s Montana Grill restaurants. It is also just around the corner from the CNN headquarters.
18. He Has Been in a Long-Standing Feud with Rupert Murdoch
When Turner Broadcasting merged with Time Warner in 1995, it sparked a huge feud between Turner and fellow media mogul Rupert Murdoch, says Your Dictionary. It began when Turner convinced his colleagues not to carry Fox News Service, which was Murdoch’s fledgling service, despite board members insisting that another news service was shown other than CNN. Instead, they aired MSBNC. For years afterward, there was a very public feud between Turner and Murdoch, with both parties called the other names in interviews. Turner even suggested that they settle their differences with a boxing match.
19. His Net Worth is $2.2 Billion
As a result of his various business successes, Ted Turner is now one of the wealthiest men in the world. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Turner has accrued a net worth of $2.2 billion.
20. He Suffers from Lewy Body Dementia
In 2018, Ted Turner was interviewed on CBS Sunday Morning. During the interview, he revealed that he had been diagnosed as suffering from Lew body dementia. This is an umbrella term that is use to describe dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s disease dementia. Both forms of dementia are characterized by abnormal deposits of the alpha-synuclein protein in the body. Lewy body dementia can cause sleep disorders, hallucinations, impaired cognition, urinary incontinence, fluctuations in attention, muscle paralysis, slowness of movement, and some shared symptoms of parkinsonism. Ted Turner did not reveal how long he had been suffering with this condition or when his diagnosis was made.
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Written by Allen Lee
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