Ted Turner was born Robert Edward Turner III on November 19, 1938 in Cincinnati, Ohio. At the age of nine, he moved with his family to Savannah, Georgia. Shortly afterward, he enrolled in a Christian prep school in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Around this time, he started one of his favorite hobbies, sailboating.
After finishing prep school, Turner enrolled at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. He was reportedly a mediocre student, but excellent at debating and he was elected vice president of the school's debating union. In 1960, he was caught with a woman in his room and expelled from the university as a result.
In 1962, his father committed suicide, leaving Ted with "Turner Outdoor Advertising", a million dollar billboard business. He continued running the business until 1970, when he bought WJRJ, a UHF television station in Atlanta, Georgia. By the late 1970s, he had renamed the station WTCG and the channel was broadcast via satellite.
In 1976, he purchased the Atlanta Braves, a well known Major League baseball team. He began to broadcast their games on his television networks, further contributing to the success of his television enterprise. That year, he also bought the Atlanta Hawks, a basketball team.
By 1979, the television station was included on most basic cable packages in the United States and it was renamed WTBS. In 1980, Ted started CNN, the first 24-hour cable news channel. The channel was a huge hit and he followed it up with CNN Headline News in 1982.
In 1986, Ted founded the Goodwill Games, an international sports competition similar to the Olympics. That year, he also purchased Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Film Studios from Kirk Kerkorian for over one billion dollars. By buying the studio, he had to assume a major debt and was forced to sell parts of the company, including the lion trademark logo.
By selling some assets, Turner was able to afford the purchase of another television channel, Tuner Network Television (TNT) in 1988. The channel began by broadcasting films that he had acquired through MGM, including "Gone With the Wind", but later introduced original shows and movies. The channel was a success and managed to generate quite a bit of revenue.
In the mid 1980s, Ted started sponsoring the colorization of films in the MGM library. The first film subject to the process was "Yankee Doodle Dandy", which was met with controversy. Many film critics did not like the idea of altering the material, but some audiences preferred color over black and white. He eventually abandoned the movement in the 1990s, largely due to high costs.
On September 22, 1995, Turner Broadcasting System, his cable company, merged with Time Warner. After the merger, he was named vice chairman of the new company's cable networks division. The company merged again with AOL on January 10, 2000, and he served on the board of directors until February 24, 2006.
In 1998, Ted donated one billion dollars worth of Time Warner stock to United Nations charities. Today, Ted Turner is the largest private landowner in the United States, with over two million acres of land in his possession (a larger area than Delaware and Rhode Island combined).
"I'd rather go to hell. Heaven has got to be boring."