Who Is Ted Turner?

Ted Turner was born in Ohio, in 1938. He began working for his father's company, Turner Advertising and became president and CEO in 1963. He later renamed the company the Turner Broadcasting Company and founded the first 24-hour cable news network, CNN, which debuted in 1980. Time Warner purchased Turner Broadcasting for $7.5 billion in 1996. Turner was married to actress Jane Fonda from 1991-2001.

Early Life

Ted Turner was born Robert Edward Turner III in Cincinnati, Ohio, on November 19, 1938. He is the eldest child of parents Robert Edward (Ed) Turner Jr. and Florence (Rooney) Turner. Turner's father owned his own company, Turner Advertising. The business was lucrative; Ed earned a substantial profit selling billboard ads. Although Ed was a good provider, he suffered from mood swings caused by bipolar disorder and vented his anger by physically abusing Turner. Years later, as an adult, Turner would discover he too was bipolar.

When World War II broke out, Ed signed up for the Navy. In 1941, he brought his wife and Turner's sister with him to the Gulf Coast but left Turner behind feeling horribly abandoned. While his family was away, Turner stayed at a Cincinnati boarding school. After the war, Ed relocated the family to Savannah, Georgia, and enrolled his son in the Georgia Military Academy.

In 1950, Turner started attending McCallie, an elite boarding school in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His curriculum included military training, one of Turner's favorite subjects. After completing his course load at McCallie, Turner hoped to sign up with the United States Naval Academy, but his father insisted he apply to Harvard. Turner's grades weren’t good enough for Harvard, so in 1956, he enrolled in Brown University instead. However, before he could earn his diploma, Turner was kicked out for having a woman in his dorm room in 1959, the same year his parents divorced.

Business Career

In 1960, Turner's father made him the manager of Turner Advertising’s Macon, Georgia, branch. Turner quickly showed a natural talent for business by more than doubling the office’s revenue in his first year. When Turner’s father bought out a competitor in 1962, the costly buyout and subsequent debt placed the company in a tenuous financial condition. Fearing bankruptcy and struggling to cope with bipolar disorder, Ed shot himself to death in March 1963. Turner dealt with his grief by throwing himself into his work. He took over the roles of president and chief executive officer at Turner Advertising, renamed Turner Communications in the late 1960s as the company bought several radio stations. By 1970, he had achieved the distinction of owning the biggest advertising company in the southeastern United States. Turner eventually expanded into television, purchasing the rights to old movies and situation comedies. The decision proved highly profitable.

In 1976, Turner made a strategic move to reach an even larger audience through the use of satellite technology. He rebranded once again, changing his company’s name to Turner Broadcasting Company. During the late 1970s, he conceived the idea for an all-news network. Cable News Network (CNN) first aired in 1980, but six years later it was in the black. In 1985, Turner used some of his profits to buy Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). Also in the 1980s, Turner began coloring films but eventually decided the cost was impractical.

In 1992, he created the Cartoon Network in addition to launching Turner Network Television (TNT) and Turner Classic Movies (TCM). In 1996, with Turner Broadcasting a leader in both the television and Internet industries, Turner sold the company to Time Warner for $7.5 billion dollars. After the merger, Turner stayed on and ran the company’s cable networks, including Home Box Office (HBO). In 2001, Time Warner merged with America Online (AOL). The following year Turner took a stab at an entirely new business venture, a steakhouse serving bison, called Ted’s Montana Grill.

Personal Life

Over the course of his successful career in broadcasting, Turner married and divorced three times. His most famous marriage was his third, to actress and activist Jane Fonda. The couple married in 1991 and divorced a decade later over a disagreement on religious beliefs. In total, Turner has five children—two from his first marriage to Judy Gale Nye, and three from his second marriage to Jane Shirley Smith.


  • Name: Ted Turner
  • Birth Year: 1938
  • Birth date: November 19, 1938
  • Birth State: Ohio
  • Birth City: Cincinnati
  • Birth Country: United States
  • Gender: Male
  • Best Known For: Ted Turner is a television and media magnate who founded CNN, the first 24-hour cable news network.
  • Industries
    • Internet/Computing
    • Television
  • Astrological Sign: Scorpio
  • Schools
    • Brown University
    • McCallie School
    • Georgia Military Academy

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  • Article Title: Ted Turner Biography
  • Author: Biography.com Editors
  • Website Name: The Biography.com website
  • Url: https://www.biography.com/business-figure/ted-turner
  • Access Date:
  • Publisher: A&E; Television Networks
  • Last Updated: March 29, 2021
  • Original Published Date: April 2, 2014


  • If I hadn't started [Turner Broadcasting System] I couldn't have afforded to buy it. And if I hadn't started it, I would certainly not be qualified to work here in any capacity.