Throughout his career, R.E. "Ted" Turner has won recognition for his entrepreneurial acumen; sharp business skills; a vision that transformed television; leadership qualities that won sports championships;
and his unprecedented philanthropy.
Mr. Turner, the vice chairman of AOL Time Warner, has now begun a new enterprise, combining two of his passions media enterprise and global reform to create two of the most exciting new entertainment companies in the world.
Founded in 2001, Ted Turner Pictures (TTP), and Ted Turner Documentaries (TTD), a wholly owned non-profit affiliate of The Turner Foundation, Inc., both headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, strive to enlighten audiences and promote global unity and positive change through the storytelling power of motion pictures and documentaries.
Reflecting the passions and concerns of its owner, Mr. Turner's first two projects tackle daunting topics. "Gods and Generals," the feature-film prequel to the 1993 epic "Gettysburg," relives the nightmarish early buildup of the Civil War; and the eight-hour documentary "Avoiding Armageddon" investigates one of the greatest dangers facing the planet today the threats from terrorism and the use of weapons of mass destruction.
Those who are familiar with Mr. Turner should not be surprised by his latest enterprise. From the moment he first took the reins of Turner Advertising Company in 1963, at the age of 24, and turned it into a multimedia empire, he has been pioneering uncharted territory.
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on November 19, 1938, Mr. Turner attended Brown University, where he was vice president of the Debating Union and commodore of the Yacht Club. After joining his family company, Turner Advertising, which focused on outdoor billboards, he set his sights on the world of television.
As the 1960s drew to a close, Mr. Turner purchased Channel 17, a small, independent UHF station in Atlanta and renamed his company Turner Broadcasting System (TBS). It was the historic first step in Mr. Turner's plan to provide information and entertainment to a worldwide audience.
In December 1976, Mr. Turner created the concept of the "superstation," transmitting his TBS signal on cable system satellites across the country, offering television viewers a peek into the future of multi-channel programming. Four years later, Mr. Turner partnered with former CBS president Robert J. Wussler and realized his dream of 24-hour television news broadcasting. Cable News Network (CNN) went live on June 1, 1980, and the company's impressive growth and influence over the next decade forever altered the television and news landscapes.
With the addition of Headline News (launched in 1982) and CNN International (launched in 1985), Mr. Turner helped distribute the currency of information to an audience that included world leaders and common citizens across hundreds of countries and territories.
The CNN brand is the cornerstone of Mr. Turner's media legacy, combining his business interests and his desire to promote peaceful understanding of a diverse world.
But visionaries are rarely satisfied with their success.
Sports was another winning obsession. In 1976, Mr. Turner purchased professional baseball's Atlanta Braves. In 1977, he bought professional basketball's Atlanta Hawks; the same year he led the successful defense of yacht racing's America's Cup.
By 1995, his Braves had thrilled baseball audiences through the first half of the decade, and they captured their first World Series title in October of that year.
Mirroring that success on the playing field, Mr. Turner's business interests were reaching critical mass. By 1995, TBS had launched CNN Radio, Turner Network Television (TNT), Cartoon Network, CNN Airport Network, Turner Classic Movies and CNN Interactive. Following the 1996 blockbuster merger of TBS and Time Warner Inc., CNNSI and CNN en Español launched their exclusive programming.
In the new company, Mr. Turner oversaw Time Warner's vast cable network system, New Line Cinema, and his professional sports teams the Braves, the Hawks and the National Hockey League's Atlanta Thrashers.
In 2001, Time Warner merged with AOL, creating the world's largest media company.
Mr. Turner's passions have always transcended business interests. He has long worried about the future of the planet and has invested more than $1 billion of his own money in projects to protect the environment, limit the danger from weapons of mass destruction and build international understanding and cooperation.
Disappointed but inspired by the boycotts that plagued Cold War-era political relations at the 1980 and 1984 Summer Olympics, Mr. Turner created and oversaw the inaugural Goodwill Games, which were held in Moscow in July 1986. Through the 1990s and into the new millennium, the multi-sport games provided an international quadrennial event that was held in Seattle, Washington (1990); St. Petersburg, Russia (1994); New York, New York (1998); the first Goodwill Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York (2000); and Brisbane, Australia (2001).
On the environmental front, Mr. Turner created the Turner Foundation in 1991. The organization has granted up to $50 million annually, focusing its efforts on issues such as clean air and water, toxin reduction, wildlife habitat protection, and the developing of practices and policies to curb population growth rates.
The Turner Endangered Species Fund, a core grantee of the Turner Foundation, helps reestablish endangered wildlife. Turner Enterprises, meantime, manages the largest commercial bison herd in North America, with an estimated 27,000 head roaming on Turner properties in Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Kansas and Nebraska.
In September 1997, Mr. Turner announced an historic gift of $1 billion over ten years to the United Nations. It is the largest donation ever handed to an organization. To date, his UN Foundation has granted more than $400 million in support of UN efforts.
In 2001, Mr. Turner and former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn launched the Nuclear Threat Initiative, which aims to reduce the ever-present global danger associated with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
In January 2002, Mr. Turner started yet another new business venture. Partnering with George W. McKerrow, Jr., founder of Longhorn Steakhouse, Mr. Turner introduced the first Ted's Montana Grill, in Columbus, Ohio. Like his other business concepts, Ted's Montana Grill has a cause that goes beyond the bottom line: Mr. Turner wants to make bison, the main menu offering at the Grill, a commercially accepted meat product, ensuring the animal's survival into the next century and beyond.
Mr. Turner is the recipient of numerous honorary degrees, industry awards and civic honors, including Time magazine's 1991 Man of the Year, and Cable and Broadcasting's Man of the Century in 1999.