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Ted Turner Biography

Brash And Abrasive, Looked To Expand, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments, Clashed With Baseball HierarchySELECTED WRITINGS BY TURNER:


American baseball executive

World-class sailor. Sports impresario. Stadium developer. Philanthropist. Media maverick and tycoon.

Ted Turner

These are just some of the many roles played by Robert Edward Turner III, better known as Ted Turner.

"He has set ocean racing records that will never been equaled. (With the launch in 1980 of Cable News Network) he has revolutionized the broadcast industry and made Marshall McLuhan's 'global village' real by tying the world together in one television network," Porter Bibb says in It Ain't as Easy as It Looks, a seminal Turner biography published in 1993. "He is complicated and contradictory, but utterly compelling," Bibb writes.

Where to begin with this multifaceted man who grew up in a privileged, but somewhat dysfunctional household? How about at Brown University where Turner, after serving a six-month suspension during his freshman year in 1956, returned to win nine intercollegiate sailing races. Later Turner, who held his own against some of the nation's best collegiate sailors, was elected Brown team captain, as well as commodore of the Brown Yacht Club.

Sailing became an outlet for Turner, who started his business career working for his father's billboard company in 1960. Their relationship was strained, at best. "Nothing could have suited his temperament or his talent better. Alone against the elements, his fate in his own hands … he could sail away from the banalities of the business world, the petty demands of ordinary existence," Bibb writes.

By the late 1960s, Turner was sailing virtually full-time because of the success of the family billboard company. But Turner, the consummate sailor and businessman, was not complacent in either endeavor. Troubled by spending money to maintain unrented billboards, Turner turned them into a vehicle to promote local radio stations he just had purchased. Essentially, Turner was validating what would become a keystone of his business strategy: cross fertilization among the disparate parts of the far-flung media empire that Time Warner ultimately swallowed in 1996.


(With Gary Jobson) The Racing Edge. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979.

Captain Planet and the Planeteers (original idea by Ted Turner). Atlanta: Turner Publications, 1992.

(With Janet Lowe) Ted Turner Speaks: Insights from the World's Greatest Maverick. New York: Wiley, 1999.

Sketch by Paul Burton

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsBaseball