Ted Turner says Fonda’s faith didn’t cause split
It wasn’t religion that broke up his marriage to Jane Fonda, Ted Turner declares in a new memoir.
He says he was “upset” when he discovered his wife’s “conversion,” but “it wasn’t because she had become Christian,” the 69-year-old Turner writes in “Call Me Ted,” which comes out next week. The Associated Press obtained an early copy.
He was upset because Fonda didn’t talk to him about it.
Turner’s 433-page book, co-authored with former Turner Broadcasting executive Bill Burke, reviews his loquacious, multi-pronged rise as yachtsman, baseball team owner, cable visionary and philanthropist.
The book includes commentary from fellow America’s Cup racers, business moguls such as Bill Gates and former Time Warner chairman Gerald Levin, friends such as former President Carter, family members and Fonda, his wife for 10 years.
Fonda wrote at length about her marriage to Turner in her memoir “My Life So Far,” and Turner adds a similar take without referring to the infidelities alleged against him by the Academy Award-winning actress. The two say they remain good friends.
He remembers their impulsive courtship, beginning in 1990 with his learning of her divorce from activist Tom Hayden and immediately calling her, a virtual stranger, for a date. She declined. He persisted. Six months later she accepted. They married in 1991.
They cared deeply about each other but spent so much time apart that they had “trouble communicating” even when together; not even couples therapy could save the marriage, with Fonda’s faith cited at the time as a possible cause for their divorce. Turner remembered going back to their Montana ranch for the first time after their split and seeing that Fonda had taken all her belongings.
“Our closets faced each other’s, and when I saw her empty space I sat down on the floor between them and cried,” writes Turner, who had two previous wives.
The son of a demanding advertising magnate who killed himself when Turner was in his mid-20s, he acknowledges his own disturbing mood swings and writes that in the 1980s he was told he was bipolar and placed on lithium. After a couple of years, feeling little change, he tried a new psychiatrist, who reversed the earlier diagnosis and canceled the prescription.
Turner also looks back on his unlikely friendship with Fidel Castro (they hunted together, then argued about politics over rum and cigars) and his reconciliation with former rival Rupert Murdoch over a mutual concern about the environment. He defends his highly criticized decision to colorize such Hollywood classics as “Casablanca,” reiterating previous comments that he was making old films more accessible to young audiences.
He looks back proudly on building his cable empire, including the founding of CNN, and sadly on his eventual departure from Time Warner, which bought out his Turner Broadcasting Systems in 1996. He still insists he was “fired” by Levin in the wake of Time Warner’s 2000 merger with AOL, and Levin, allowed to offer his side, still denies it (They no longer speak, Levin adds, regretfully).
In his hopefully titled conclusion, “Onward and Upward,” Turner says he has “very few regrets,” vows to live long and well enough to fill a second book and wonders what should be inscribed on his tombstone.
As a young celebrity, he wanted “You Can’t Interview Me Here.” In middle age, he liked “Here Lies Ted Turner. He Never Owned a Broadcast Network.”
As an older man and published author: “I Have Nothing More to Say.”
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