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tv   Ted Turner The Maverick Man  CNN  November 17, 2013 10:00pm-11:01pm PST

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he changed tv news forever. >> most of my colleagues thought ted was nuts. >> sailing, media, environment, the united nations. >> a billion is a good round number, you know? >> you know you changed the world. >> yeah, i know. >> they called him captain
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outrageous and the mouth of the south. >> there is no cutoff between the brain and the mouth with ted. >> ted was a little unorthodox and a little unpredictable. >> he built a media empire. he won the america's cup. >> we have to go as fast as we can here. >> the world series. >> he put the atlanta braves organization on the map. >> and the heart of jane fonda. >> i will never love anyone like i love him. >> before his world came crashing down. >> it's been a very painful experience, obviously. >> a journey like no other. >> the fact that he was taken off that focus allowed him to go to the next important phase of his life, the third act.
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>> there they are, some of them. you notice almost all of them are the same distance apart from the others. >> why is that? >> i was hoping you could tell me. >> this is where ted's next chapter begins, on one of his 27 properties spanning 2 million acres. >> okay, guys. they're talking a little bit too much for me. >> what he has done is staggering. he's created a template for what men and women who own large tracts of land can do to save nature, to save wildlife. >> new priorities, new ventures. >> you can't take a business person like my father and just saddle him into a stall. he just doesn't do well sitting
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around. >> i don't know how to quit. it's not in my genes. >> surprisingly the mouth of the south. robert edward turner iii was born in cincinnati, ohio, the oldest child of robert and florence. >> he was beautiful. he was just loved beyond all else. >> there was a vacant lot, a hollow, down the street with virgin trees in it and a little creek ran through it, and i would catch crayfish and put them in a jar. >> mischief was always around the corner. >> yes, mischief. yes. we got a call from the house saying, grandma mccoy in the middle of the night had walked into her bathroom and screamed, oh, my gosh! ted brought an alligator and put it in the bathtub. >> but there was also trouble at the turner household.
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ted's dad was a good provider but had violent mood swings. >> your dad spanked you with a razor strap. >> a razor strap and a wire coat hanger. >> he would hit you like that. >> yeah, but on the behind. it wasn't dangerous or anything like that, it just hurt like the devil. >> but it hurt. >> yeah. >> i was aware that he was treated harshly intermittently and i had no idea what to do about it or what to make of it at that age. but i was sort of troubled by it. >> when his dad joined the navy, ted was shipped off to boarding school at the age of 4. >> well, i will never forget it was our second date. he told me about his childhood. he turned and looked at me and he said, why are you crying, because tears were pouring down
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my face because i knew what it meant in terms of his development as a person to have had such a really, really difficult early life. >> after the war ended, ted's dad relocated the family to savannah, georgia. he bought a small billboard company and renamed it turner advertising. he insisted ted, not yet a teenager, learn the business. >> i worked a full 40-hour week when i was out of school in the summer. the first year when i was 12 years old, he paid me 10 cents an hour. >> tensions grew between father and son and the family fell apart when ted's 17-year-old sister, mary jane, passed away after a long battle with lupus. her death tested ted's faith. >> at one point i was going to be a missionary. >> when you say a missionary,
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you know, i've known you for a while. religion is not necessarily something i've associated with ted turner. >> my faith was shaken when my sister got sick. she was sick for five years before she passed away, and it just seemed so unfair because she hadn't done anything wrong. christianity didn't give me the answer to that. so my faith got shaken somewhat. i still pray a little bit. >> ted found solace on the water where he developed a love for sailing. by age 11, he was competing in the junior regata of the savannah yacht club. his parents divorced after his sister's death, and his relationship with his father remained strained. when ted was accepted to brown university, his dad be rarated for not getting into harvard. he sent ted a letter that still haunts him today. >> my dear son, i'm appalled,
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even horrified, that you have adopted classes as a major. in fact, i almost puked on the way home. i think you have officially become a jackass. love, dad. >> what goes through your mind? >> well, i disagreed with him, respectfully. >> his father stopped paying tuition. how much after this letter did you drop out of brown? >> oh, about a year. when i ran out of money. >> his father really wanted ted to come work for him. you know, to continue the dynasty. coming up, the dark legacy of ted's father. >> he went against everything that he taught me. n 1 ] why do ? to share with family. [ woman 2 ] to carry on traditions.
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in 1960, ted turner left college, and his father couldn't have been more pleased. >> he thought i was wasting my time. >> so you leave brown and you go into your dad's billboard business. >> right. ted was a natural from the beginning, and his dad quickly became him manager of the company's macon, georgia branch. >> he was running the billboard company there, building more billboards, selling more makingy for his father and for the company. >> already one of the biggest
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billboard companies in the south, ted turner took a risk to make it the biggest. he borrowed $4 million, bought out his largest competitor and then lost his nerve. >> he had kind of a nervous breakdown. >> fear of defaulting on the loan consumed him. >> he went against everything he taught me, be courageous and hang in there. and so it was -- it really concerned him and a couple days later he killed himself. >> ed turner shot himself in his bathtub in march 1963. the loss left a void ted has felt ever since. >> are you the man you are today, at least in part, because of your father? >> oh, sure.
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one of the things he told me, he said, set your goals so high that you can't achieve them in your lifetime. >> so he really worked hard to try to instill in you that same kind of competitive goal? >> yeah. and he did a good job of it. >> and yet to this day, ted has complicated feelings about his father. the man who inflicted so much pain was also his mentor. >> when that happened, it was like losing his best friend. and i think that that's one of the things that has driven him like a madman. >> it was very important to ted, even when his dad was alive, to try to please him. >> but to please his dad, ted had to do everything his father's way. >> if his dad had not killed himself, he would still be working for his grandfather, and his grandfather would not let him do anything new or
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innovati innovative. >> but now ted could be as innovative as he wanted. ed turner had left his son $1 million in assets and complete control of the company. >> after the funeral, i just went to work even harder to try and get it behind me. >> ted had been married for four years, and his hectic schedule fts taki was taking a toll on his young family. >> ted was married to his first wife, had two children. but he was spending all his time working, trying to save the company, build the company, so it didn't work out. >> divorced, then remarried. ted eventually had three more kids but wasn't much of a family man. >> dad really wasn't around very much. he was either off sailing or he was building his empire. >> he's not really good at the attaboys. you know, i don't think my dad told me he loved me until i was 30. >> and yet ted always wanted the
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best for his family, even if that meant a change of scenery. >> my father got us out of atlanta when we were pre-teens getting to the age where diversions come along, and so he thought it would be good for us to be raised in the country. so we picked up and moved to south carolina to help plantation. >> life at the plantation was challenging. >> when we lived there, there was no air-conditioning, there were no showers. it was just bathtubs there. it was living in an old farmhouse in the woods. >> they pulled pigweed. he gave them machetes to go out to the barns and cut down poison oak and poison ivy. >> we were raised in a frugal manner. dad always said he didn't get rich from wasting money. >> dad had a way of making everything an adventure. at hope, we had our cougars, and then we had two black bears,
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yogi and boo-boo. >> my dad has never been one to shia way from danger. he's the one that would send us in the buffalo pasture to run the buffalo up front so the guests could see them, you know. like who does that? >> while his family lived in south carolina, ted worked tirelessly at his company's headquarters in atlanta. to expand his billboard business, he soon acquired several radio stations and then a small local tv station. >> was that a risky decision? >> yeah. because i didn't have any background. i put everything i had into the one television station in atlanta. >> i don't have enough speed. >> and in his free time, he put everything he had into sailing. >> here we go. >> the sport he had loved since childhood. >> that was my sport. i concentrated on it. i worked really hard at becoming
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a champion in sailing. >> and the holy grail of championship sailing was the america's cup. >> it took him from 1958 to 1977 to do it. but he had a heavy focus and didn't let anybody get in the way of that. >> he got crushed in the america's cup in 1974, so it was kind of the ultimate comeback for him. >> it's close, you know, it's always close. >> the year was 1977. ted took the helm and navigated his team to victory after nearly two decades in the sport. his yacht, aptly named courageous, totally dominated his competition, winning every race in the best out of seven series. >> we finally won, big hoopla, a thousand boats coming in, thousands of people on the shoreline, champagne everywhere. and ted turns to me in the middle of this melee and says, hey, johnson, wasn't that fun?
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then he said this will change our lives because we have proven to people if we can do this, we can do many other things. when we return, ted turner changes the landscape of tv news forever. >> camera 3, 1 center. >> good evening. >> now here's the news. which means it's never been easier to get a new passat, awarded j.d. power's most appealing midsize car, two years in a row. and right now you can drive one home for practically just your signature. get zero due at signing, zero down, zero deposit, and zero first month's payment on any new 2014 volkswagen. hurry, this offer ends december 2nd. for details, visit today
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bigger, better, bolder. ted turner had significantly grown his business.
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won sailing's most prestigious race and bought a bankrupt tv station. >> it was a broken down uhf television station in atlanta, television at its basest form. >> what next? using that little station to launch a huge idea. >> he began to tell me about how he was going to transform uhf television into this new world of satellite television. >> we changed the name of turner communications to the turner broadcasting system. >> ted renamed the station wtbs. it became the nation's first superstation and was one of the first channels of what would evolve into a cable universe with thousands more. >> this is wtbs, atlanta, georgia. >> in the early days of the superstation, programming still was at a premium, and we didn't have as much as we needed. >> and that programming didn't give the small station the
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national footprint ted wanted. his solution? buy a baseball team. ♪ if we can't do it, nobody can ♪ >> the braves broadcast nationwide on wtbs became america's team. >> come see this team expanded. hey, we're in atlanta. >> innovative businessmen create markets. we created one by putting this on tv, and he knew eventually we were going to play some better baseball, but we needed to get this product out there and create that market. >> when we bought them in 1976, they were terrible. we finished last many more times in the first division of baseball. >> but ted could even make the best out of a bad situation. >> ted came into the clubhouse and yelled across the room, murph, don't worry about that slump you're in. you're saving me hundreds of thousands of dollars in our next
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negotiation. i'm like, wait a minute, that's not how it works, ted. >> from the clubhouse to the dugout, ted was there. he even put on a uniform and managed the team for a day. >> i figure this is a good time to find out what goes on in the field. >> i think he may have had the shortest career management in the game. >> the team had gone from first to worst. four years later, they were world series champs. >> when they won, i'll never forget. it was one of the great highs of our time together. >> as ted built his superstation, he was dreaming up an even bigger idea, a 24-hour newschannel. >> this news service will be called the cable news network. >> i worked until 7:00, and when i got home, the news was over, so i missed television news completely, and i figured there were lots of people like me. >> you can do so much more in 24
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hours than you can in 24 minutes. >> you had this maverick down in atlanta, georgia who had decided that he was going to provide news around the clock, 24 hours a day. not just at 6:00 when cronkite or others would be coming along with the evening news. >> we had no background in news, but it was plainly a major genre in cable television that was missing. >> finally you can see our new cable news network headquarters. >> most thought the idea was crazy. >> people did look upon that as a foolish idea that was destined for failure. but they underestimated ted turner. >> we signed it on june 1, and barring satellite problems in the future, we won't be signing off until world's end.
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where beyond we will cover it live. >> ted had 11 months to get the station on the air. >> we had no bureaus, no cameras, no cameramen, no employees. not a single one. >> when we signed on, we had bureaus in moscow, tokyo, the whole deal. >> i dedicate the newschannel for america, the k-world news network. >> on june 1st, 1980, cnn aired its first broadcast. >> good evening, i'm david walker. >> and i'm lois harp. now here's the news. >> it took five years and $250 million before cnn turned a corner financially. and ted was working around the clock to make it happen. >> i lived for 20 years in my office. >> which was right in the cnn building over there.
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>> right. i lived on a couch in my office for the first ten years. >> he was one of us. he would be in his housecoat down having breakfast in the hard news cafe. >> despite his efforts, critics called cnn chicken noodle news. >> i'll just go ahead and talk about some sports right now. >> and the white house would not even issue cnn press credentials. >> liftoff of the 25th space shuttle. >> even so, from the start, ted knew what he wanted. >> ted didn't care as much about ratings as he did about being the most trusted name in news. >> and being a network that had truly global impact. >> what he was doing was going to affect every state in the nation and every nation in the world. >> cnn took turner to cuba to
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meet fidel castro. >> he convinced castro to open a cnn bureau there. >> and even to the soviet union, where ted created the goodwill games. >> maybe in a short period of time, this will be kind of a blueprint for how we can go about ending the arms race. that's certainly my dream. >> the games lasted for 16 years and helped fall u.s. relations with russia. >> i think that broke the ice and was a fact in ending the cold war. >> coming up, as the cold war ended, another war would put cnn on the map. >> you think you can handle bombs by hitting the center of the city. this is the quicksilver cash back card from capital one. it's not the "limit the cash i earn every month" card. it's not the "i only earn decent rewards at the gas station" card. it's the no-games, no-signing up, everyday-rewarding, kung-fu-fighting,
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there may be no state of the union tonight. >> by the mid-'80s, the little network that could was ready for expansion. >> shut up in here! >> so ted transformed an aging hotel complex in atlanta into cnn center. and that wasn't all. >> we're ready to go to your phone calls and we start with austin, texas. >> ted had managed to land a
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talk show host named larry king. >> one day out of the blue ted calls me, and he says, listen, we'd like you to come to cnn. i had never seen cnn. >> that wasn't the only obstacle. larry already had a job and ted wanted him to start at cnn just four days later. >> i knew ten minutes into that show talking to larry cuomo that show was going to make it. ted saw that. ted saw that. >> cnn was growing and so was the rest of ted's empire. he bought mgm's entire library of films, including his favorite movie "gone with the wind." >> frankly, my dear, i don't give a damn. >> it launched tnt, a network that would air them. after that, kocartoon network, turner classic movies in asia, europe and the middle east.
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ted's next conquest would be personal. >> he and i both wished each other the best, and she just heard that jane fonda was getting a divorce from her husband and he thought about asking her out on a date. >> though her ink was barely dry on the divorce papers, he called her up. >> is it true? is what true? you and hayden, are you divorcing? yes. do you want to go out? >> she said, i'm devastated and not wanting to talk about going out. >> i said, i'm actually in the middle of a nervous breakdown. call me in six months. i thought, this guy is crazy. this is not what i want to hear right now. >> i called her six months to the day. she agreed to have dinner with me. it was love at first sight. >> the lovebirds tied the knot at avalon plantation, ted's
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property outside monticello, florida. >> i will. >> my friends would meet him and get to know him, and they would always say, he's like a little boy. and it's wonderful. you can't help but love it. but there's also a sadness to it. >> a sadness jane knew too well. she, too, had lost a parent to suicide and lived through a difficult childhood. >> among the many things he taught me was to laugh. i come from a family that's a bit on the depressive side. >> and jane helped teach ted to be more involved as a father. >> i spoke to him about my own regrets, about not being a better parent. i tried to model for him. >> including at christmas. >> i had seen home movies of
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earlier christmases that were really not so fun, that were pretty tense. >> we're in the tv games upstairs, okay, not downstairs. bye! >> he had three kids in military college, very buttoned up. it was a semblance of order. when jane came along, there really wasn't much of this order anymore. she knew more about it than my dad did. she had done her homework. >> it was a happy time for everybody. it was kind of like "camelot." >> ted's family life was thriving and business was booming when he hired a los angeles times publisher to run cnn. >> i've worked with really some unbelievably powerful people. ted rattles my cage. >> things were about to get even more intense. >> no, do it, put it on the air.
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>> it was my second day on the job when saddam hussein invaded kuwait. >> war was imminent. the white house urged all news outlets to pull personnel out of the war zone. >> i told the president that we had freedom of the press in the united states, and as long as i had volunteers that would stay, i was going to leave them there. >> cnn's baghdad boys were still on the front lines even when the war started. >> the skies over baghdad have been illuminated. >> we went on the air. and i was getting reaction from the pentagon to what -- they were all watching cnn. >> on january 16, 1991, for the first time in history, a war began live on television, and it was only on cnn. >> you can hear the bombs now. they're hitting the center of the city. >> i still believe that that was
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the greatest scoop in the history of journalism. >> to this day? >> to this day. >> ten years after launching, cnn had become the most trusted news outlet in the world. >> this is cnn. >> and ted was time magazine's man of the year. >> and i was only one of two people who has ever been on the cover of "time" magazine for one thing and on the cover of "sports illustrated" for another. >> did it ever enter your mind that you would have this enormous success? >> i'm sure i must have thought about it, dreamed about it. >> becoming a billionaire? >> certainly before it happened, i knew it was going to because the momentum was there. >> the momentum was there. in 1996, ted sold his media empire for $8 billion and became the largest shareholder of time
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by the mid-'90s, ted had sold his beloved cable to time warner. he was tired. the two met when he made a deal. >> ted is not going anywhere. in fact, he's going to be the chair of time warner and embrace his situation. >> ted came into the deal as best he could. >> everything was fine until we merged with aol. >> talk of a merger was in the
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mid-'90s. business was booming and aol was coming in. they wanted to buy it, but ted pushed back. >> in his deepest self, he knew it was wrong. >> this really is a historic moment. it was the biggest corporate merger ever, a $160 billion deal. but no one could predict the burst of the dot-com bubble just months later. aol fell flat and the stock price took a nosedive. >> we were present for the greatest business debacle in the history of american business. >> investors lost more than $150 billion. and ted, time warner's biggest individual stockholder, took a beating. >> your net worth goes from 10 billion to 2 billion, and during that same time -- >> i actually went closer to 1
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billion. by then i had given $1 billion to the u.n. >> they restructured the company. ted was shut out. >> they offered me an extension on my contract to a million dollars a year. and i said, what are my duties going to be? he said, you're not going to have any duties. >> ted got shafted. and it hurt. knowing the guy, i didn't know. >> none of us at that moment knew it was going to end like it did. >> it was a really humbling experience, because i really loved the company. tumultuous battle with his wife.
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>> jane fonda said to you, i want a divorce. >> oh, yeah, but everything considered, it was a tough time. >> i would say for the first eight years, it was great. you know, ted is an exciting person and very funny and very wise. but we always were moving. we lived out of suitcases. i kept saying to him, we need to slow down. >> jane gave ted an ultimatum. settle down or lose her. >> and he couldn't do it. if ted were ted but without the need to have my constant presence, we would still be together, there is no question about it. >> after ten years of marriage, ted and jane divorced in 2001. it was like a knife in ted's heart. >> terminating our marriage was a very difficult thing to do. >> and it was very, very sad
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because we loved each other, and i remember when we got the kids together and he announced that we were separating, and -- and there were tears, yeah. >> i love her very much, and i always will. >> ted was inconsolable. his family worried about his state of mind. >> the fact that, you know, he lost jane and he lost the company all at one time, i can't even go to that bad place. >> i actually called dad and, you know, told him to be strong. the family loves him so much just for being better than his father. but don't disappoint yourself by taking this any further, deeper, darker. >> that dark, scary place that had pushed his father to the edge. >> that was always an option for ted turner. one very dark night out here, he contemplated, what is it worth
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to live one's life? >> he would start thinking about all the things that he was grateful for, children, and his grandchildren, all the other blessings. that got him through those thoughts of suicide. >> and he ultimately made it through that night deep in insomnia, deeply depressed, and he saw the rising sun out here in montana, and he thought to himself, you know, i want to live and i want to make the world a better place for them. coming up, ted's nine lives. >> hi. >> it was kind of a blessing in disguise. are you flo?
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i guess in the average landslide, there are two or three monstrous experiences that he doesn't forget.
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>> i watched cnn all the time. it was about the only thing i watch. i wasn't completely happy with it, but i would watch it. >> he's gone but he's still trying to run the show. >> i think we made a mistake taking the ticker off the sports scores. >> it was more than just a company to me. it was a way of life. that's my penthouse up on the roof. then my office is right underneath my home. >> do you own this building? cnn bought your kitchen over here. >> that's right. i moved two blocks away so i could look out the window. i joked and said, if you need me, just put out a red flag and
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i'll be there within five minutes. >> more than a decade later, still traumatized about losing his baby, the network he built. >> this is cnn. >> i would have voted strongly against the merger with aol. it's all right, i can take it. it was kind of a blessing in disguise. >> now he can focus on what he wants to do when it sounds cliche, but save the planet. >> the media titan who pioneered 24/7 tv news devoted himself full-time to his lifelong passions, the environment and philanthropy. >> i'm going to be a fundraiser to raise more money so everybody who is rich in the world, expect a call or money from me, because i'm going to get money for the u.n. >> he shot to fame in the charity world six years ago when he made a shocking and historic billion-dollar pledge to the united nations, creating the
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u.n. foundation. >> i came into the dining room and ted was way over in the corner. he yells out, hey, worth. do you want to head up this organization? >> he decided he needed to follow at least two issues, women's health and public indication. >> the listed senator sam nunn to join him in the weapons angle making sure we had everything in place to secure nuclear materials. >> and over the years, his own turner foundation has awarded countless grants. >> ted has allowed us to give more than $363 million to make this world a better place. clean air, clean water. congratulations, ted and laura. >> ted's five children are the trustees of the foundation.
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>> dad calls him turnervase. luxury for kids, that's for sure. as he's aging, i want to know that he'll go out with the love of his children and grandchildren. that may not always have been important to him, but it's important to him now, and so he's doing what he needs to do. he's a great grandfather as well as, you know, a father. >> love you, grandpa! >> love you, grand pan. >> we go out in the walls to montana, they will will just give up. >> ted's love for the outdoors has made him perhaps one of the number 1 environmentalists i've
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been home. i want to be able to sit on my front porch, look out and see the reflection of the lake in the mountains. >> at the flying d, ted's ranch near bows man, men men, he zeroed in what he thought was missing from this land? >> because, and there were no cattle here when white man came. john helped restore a unique individu individua individual. >> what we did was put things back in place. there was nobody out there doing that. >> we had a significant amount, 55,000 head of animals, but also it's been profitable.
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ted had that in mind at the outset. >> what ted had in mind was a business venture that could ensure their survival, restaurants that feature bison. >> by making them commercial, there are reasons ranchers can have them. once you do that, the gene pool expanded. we've doubled the size of the restaurants, for example. the restaurant have come along. let me take that that if he was no longer the head of this empire he fault. that he would have something to step into that would challenge him and keep it going. he was disguise ted turner's life is most. the book has not been finished here.
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i can't wait for the next surprise. >> ted is still on top of the world and thinking about what can be done to make it a better place. >> we must, of they had done usuallily when you are back. we must write a new chapter. >> and what about ted's feelings toward jane? >> we love each other. >> to this very day? >> to this kvery day. >> i can't forget about the reasons he made me fall in love with him. >> he broke every mold. he changed the world. >> i don't think we'll see another one like him any time
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soon. >> nothing was too ambitious for dad. >> old, courageous, a risk taker. the good thing about ted turner was there is no mass waves he should have become a dictator. he's turning out to be just a vague r-- very good guy. >> it's been a long journey from the hardships of growing up to a career synonymous with success. but this man who has accomplished so much still longs for approval from the man who drove him the hardest. >> i'd like to show him what i did. i think he would have been impressed. he was a hard guy to impress.
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two or three emotional experiences burned into his heart and his brain and no matter what happens to me, i remember november the 22nd as long as i live. >> there has been an attempt on the life of president kennedy. >> they are combing the floors of the texas depository building to find the assassin. [ gunshots ]. >> oswald has been shot at point blank range fired into the stomach. >> police are working to the assumption oswald's murder was to shut him up.


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