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Ted Turner helped shape who I am

Yes, that Ted Turner and no I've never met the man and I don't know the man personally.
Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of
A couple of days ago I was thinking about who I am as a person. I’m normal, yet strange. I feel like I am a fair mix of both of my parents, with a dash of my grandparents and a few quirks of my own. If I sat down and described myself to you, I would do so with a list of my favorite things.
I would say, my name is Nikki and here is a shortlist of my all-time favorite things (not including my family and friends and all the dogs in the world), classic movies, baseball, the Three Stooges, Saved by the Bell, Paul Simon, and Robert Redford. There is so much more to me, but this is the list I would give. I feel that this list of random things says a lot about who I am as a person.
As a classic film lover, I would say that I am ‘old school’ and ‘classic.’
I think baseball says that I’m romantic and low maintenance, give me a hot dog, and a game and I’m set for hours.
My love of all things Larry, Curly, Shemp, and Moe, says that I have a sense of humor-maybe, not sophisticated humor, but I love to laugh.
Finally, my love of Saved by the Bell would tell you that I am corny and very colorful.
I’m sure there are a thousand different ways of looking at how each of these random insignificant things shapes me as a person, but they did.
When I think of who I am now and compare it to how I grew up, there is one significant connection, and that connection is a 78-year-old man from Ohio.
Ted Turner, ‘Terrible Ted,’ ‘The Mouth of the South,’ or that guy who started CNN, has had more of an influence on my life than I could have ever imagined. Up until recently, I knew very little about the man. I remember him being married to Jane Fonda (kisses fingers, pops them in the air and points to the sky. That woman is a damn goddess, and I will physically fight you if you want to come at me about that.) and I knew he is the all mighty Turner in Turner Classic Movies, but other than that I knew very little.
During a CNN series about the 1980s, I learned more about Turner and all of the things he dabbles in during his exciting life. In 1976 Turner Broadcasting Systems (TBS) became the nation’s first ‘superstation’ using satellite technology to go nationwide. In the early 90’s TBS, channel five to those who had it in Dawson, the Village of 100 people that I grew up in played babysitter to two little girls.
At 4:00 p.m. every weekday, TBS played a good two hours of Saved by the Bell. The stupid, yet loveable show of my youth could always be found on channel 5. Zach Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) was my first huge crush. Until the fairly recently, I was confident I would someday marry Zack Morris. I learned several life lessons from the thousands of hours of watching this show. I learned not to drink and drive, don't hire an actor to trick my school principal, and most importantly I learned not to give up on someone you love. All such cheesy life lessons that I laugh about today, but back then it was intense stuff. Saved by the Bell was my religion and for years nothing else mattered. The evil Ted Turner would often interrupt my religion with baseball.
The Atlanta Braves are the first baseball team I can remember watching. My intense hate slowly turned to love as I couldn’t look away from their outfielder David Justice. Let’s face it, the man isn’t Bo Jackson or Derek Jeter, but he was good enough to hold my attention. He had a beautiful face. I understood baseball and what he was doing. I loved Dan Marino and Troy Aikman, but I didn’t and still don’t quite understand their sport. My wild love affair with baseball began and stuck thanks to that evil Ted Turner interrupting my show.
My favorite thing about TBS was the 24-hour marathons they would often have. Saved by the Bell and The Three Stooges were the usually the subject of those marathons. My sister and I would try to stay up to watch all night as we used the VCR to tape our shows to watch again day after day. We didn't have a Three Stooges collection of DVD's at that time, just our treasured TBS marathon tapes. My grandpa Alexander usually played host to these events and would join us for as many Three Stooges as he could handle. My love for Larry, Curly and Moe runs as deep as my love for classic movies. It reminds me of my sister, grandpa and I curled up on the couch laughing until we cried.
In 1980 Turner launched CNN, the first 24-hour news network. It isn’t listed in my favorite things, but I love the news, especially during an election year. CNN and I go way back to the 2000 election when my beloved Al Gore ran against President George Bush. I spent hours, days and weeks attached to CNN. That was during a rough period of my adolescence, so it was a good distraction for me. Again, Turner pulls through for this girl.
In 1985 Ted Turner acquired MGM-UA Entertainment, including its library of thousands of classic films. Nearly ten years later Turner Classic Movies is launched. What can I say about my biggest love? The people whom I have met because of the films shown on this network have changed my life for the better. I met my best friend because of TCM and Turner. I have the most fabulous week of the year because of TCM and Turner. I have my closest friend core and group chats/texts because of Turner and TCM. How incredible is that?
When I first started getting deeper into black and white films, I would go and search the internet for my favorite movies or stars. That searching led me to groups devoted to specific films or actors, which led me to the people. I have had so much fun with these people. They have encouraged me to come out of my shell a LOT. I have been invited to write for magazines, blogs, and other publications, as well as do radio interviews. I have done fundraisers for the Harold Lloyd birthplace and been active in getting people in my community involved in learning about classic film. I have also met several people in our area who share my love and who visit me to talk about it.
I am again preparing for another trip to Hollywood for the TCM Film Festival. It is something that I look so forward to attending. It’s not the just films, but the people, my people.  I wouldn’t trade the amount of time I have spent watching and learning about old movies for anything. It’s a love, a passion that runs deep-it’s a big part of who I am.
In 1992 The Cartoon Network went on air and, my grandpa spent hours with my sister and I watching the classics. Back then they showed The Flintstone’s, Top Cat, The Jetson’s, and Wait Till Your Father Gets Home. My grandfather passed away in 1998, but the time we spent together watching the Cartoon Network, and The Three Stooges is time I treasure and hold so dearly. That was something we had in common. We laughed and laughed, and now I share that common thread and those shows with my son.
Who would have thought that so much of what I love has been made so easily accessible thanks to a billionaire philanthropist? Thanks for everything Ted, even Ted’s Montana Grill.
UPDATE, April 2019. TCM will be honoring my beloved Ted Turner at the TCMFF in Hollywood next week. I am so excited this wild man will be honored by my friends and people I hold so near and dear to my heart. I hope I get to witness this event. I'm fuzzy on details, but I hope its something I get to be a part of next week. Thanks again for the memories and this wonderful life Ted.


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