America, prepare to be smitten. ABC’s first-ever Golden Bachelor — retired restaurateur Gerry Turner — is a handsome, bighearted 72-year-old from Indiana. After losing his wife Toni in 2017, this father of two (as well as a grandfather of two!) is poised to prove that love is just as sweet the second time around.
Soon after the show started filming, we quizzed Turner about his journey. Here’s what The Golden Bachelor star had to say about his unique road to finding love again.
OK, first off: Arrivals night is always a lot. How was yours?
Gerry Turner: We can relate it to the “kid in the candy store,” but that’s not doing it justice. When you meet 22 women who have prepared themselves for an event like this, to meet me? That’s pretty special.
Somebody always shows up on a horse or in a giant bubble. Did you have anything like that?
[Laughs] I did, yes! There is someone I still think about who arrived on a motorcycle.
How did the show do as far as casting? We know the women range in age from 60 to 75, and one of them is the mother of former Bachelor Matt James!
They did an awesome job. There’s a variety of women, but they’re all very elegant. Very attractive. And through some conversations, they all have very similar values to me, particularly [regarding] their attachment to family, which is huge for me.
How long did that first cocktail party last? Because I know they can go into the morning…
I was still wide awake and energized at 7:30 a.m. They had to literally pull me out of the group to get me to leave.
Your two daughters, Angie and Jenny, are fans, so they know about certain elements. Did they warn you, like, “Dad, do not embarrass us during the Fantasy Suites?”
[Laughs] They didn’t address the Fantasy Suites as much as first-night kisses. “Just don’t do that. Get to know them first.” And I failed! There’s such a joy and affection with these women. Barriers are down. I don’t regret it a bit.
Will your daughters have a say in any of this?
I love them more than anybody on this earth, but they’re not going to have any input on my partner for the rest of my life. The upside is they are so gracious that it doesn’t matter who I bring home — they will accept her.
The running joke on The Bachelor is about contestants being there “for the right reason.” But neither you nor the ladies are out to become famous at this point in life.
Man, you’re making a great observation, because that also helps me make good decisions. I don’t have to [worry] someone’s trying to launch a TV career or increase their followers. All I have to focus on is their reaction to me and my emotional reaction to them. Can’t say that it makes the job simpler, but it does streamline it.
What kind of dates have producers lined up for you?
I’ve actually said I don’t want to know. I want to be as surprised as the women on any given date night. That’s part of the fun, to share the excitement.
Would you be willing to rappel down the front of an L.A. skyscraper, as they’ve done in the past, or go skydiving?
I would jump out of a plane. There’s a lot of thrill-type activities I would do. But the one thing I asked to be stricken from the record upfront was bungee jumping. [Laughs]
How much of your late wife do you look for in a new partner?
I like the wording of your question. The parts I’d like to find are character, values and the ability to be an equal partner. But I’ve cautioned myself and I’m pretty firm with the rule that I’m not going to make those comparisons. I’m not looking for Toni 2.0. It’s an altogether different game at 70 than with your high school sweetheart.
Do you see yourself actually getting engaged?
Oh, sure. That’s a very realistic possibility. Let’s face it, you get to 72, the clock ticks a lot faster than when you’re 20. If I’m going to enjoy the rest of my life, I don’t want to waste time. I want to find my girl and move on.
The Golden Bachelor, Series Premiere, Thursday, September 28, 8/7c, ABC
This is an excerpt from TV Guide Magazine’s 2023 Returning Favorites issue. For more first looks at fall’s returning shows, pick up the issue, on newsstands now.