Walk, Don’t Run – Thanks, Ted.

I need to thank Ted Turner for shaping who I am. Yes, that Ted Turner, and no, I’m not related to the man in any way, never met him, never will.
A couple of days ago, I was thinking about who I am. I’m normal, yet strange. I feel like I am a fair mix of both of my parents, with a dash of all four of my grandparents and a hit of 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. Here is a short list 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, chocolate chip cookies and Saved by the Bell. There is so much more to me, but this is the list I would give to start. This list of random things says a lot about who I am. As a classic film lover, I would say that I’m an ‘old soul.’ I think baseball says I’m romantic and low-maintenance. My love of all things Larry, Curly and Moe says I have a sense of humor- maybe not sophisticated, but I love to laugh. Finally, my love of Saved by the Bell tells you I am corny and open-minded. I’m sure there are a thousand different ways of looking at how each of these random insignificant things shape 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: a 78-year-old man from Ohio.
Ted Turner, ‘Terrible Ted,’ ‘The Mouth of the South,’ or that guy who started CNN has influenced my life more than I could have imagined. Until recently, I knew very little about the man. I remember him being married to Jane Fonda, and I knew he was the all-mighty Turner in Turner Classic Movies, but other than that, I knew very little. During a CNN series about the 1980’s, I learned more about Turner and everything he dabbles in.
In 1976, Turner Broadcasting Systems (TBS) became the nation’s first ‘superstation’ using satellite technology to go nationwide. In the early 90s, TBS, or channel five to us in Dawson, Nebraska during the ’90s, played babysitter to two little girls.
At 3:30 p.m. every weekday, TBS played two hours of Saved by the Bell. The corny yet lovable show of my youth could almost always be found. Zach Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) was my first colossal crush. Until the day I got married, I was sure 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, not to try to hire an actor to trick my school principal, and, most importantly, I learned not to give up on someone I love. All such cheesy life lessons that I laugh about today, but it was intense back then. Saved by the Bell was my religion, and for years, nothing else mattered except when that evil Ted Turner would 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 Braves 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. I understood baseball and what he was doing. I loved Dan Marino and Troy Aikman, but I didn’t and still don’t 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 usually the subject of those marathons. My sister and I would try to stay up all night to watch our shows as the VCR tapped our shows to watch again day after day. We didn’t have the Three Stooges collection, just our treasured TBS marathon tapes. My grandpa Alexander usually hosted these events and would join us for as many Three Stooges as possible. 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 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 was launched. What can I say about my most immense love? The people I’ve met because of the films shown on this network have improved my life. When I first started getting deeper into black and white films, I would search the internet about my favorite films or stars. That led me to groups devoted to classic films, 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 bit. I have been invited to write for magazines, blogs and other publications and do radio interviews about specific topics and panel discussions. I have also met several people in our area who share my love and visit me to discuss it. I would say that people who devote so much of their time to old movies are a bit guarded and quiet. I know I am, but we bloom when we get around each other. I’m again preparing for another trip to Hollywood for the TCM Film Festival. It’s something that I look forward to. It’s not the just films, but the people, my people. I wouldn’t trade the time I’ve 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.
The chocolate chip cookies? I just live for food, nothing to do with Ted; I just really like them.
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: my biggest loves, favorite pastime, and closest friends.

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