Before host Jesse Palmer brought out Turner to greet the audience, a video package was shown to help set up his backstory. In it, the 71-year-old discussed how he married his high school sweetheart, Toni, and they went on to have a life together for 43 years with two daughters and two granddaughters.
But then Turner went into the story of how he and Toni bought their dream home together, only for her to pass away a few short weeks later after becoming ill with a bacterial infection that affected her kidneys and liver. Turner broke down in tears while discussing it, as did some who were watching in-studio.
The video package also informed viewers that Turner has “passed the STD test and the drug test” for the show — which made for a good laugh — and the thing he’s most worried about is “remembering 25 names.” He also revealed a little bit about what he might be looking for in a partner, or in the very least, a celebrity crush.
“Best case scenario is that I find out Helen Mirren’s on the market, and she’s really happy to be on The Golden Bachelor,” Turner said.
When Turner did finally walk out on stage in person — which included a very warm welcome from the studio audience as well as this season’s Bachelorette suitors — he discussed what a "whirlwind" his life has become since being announced as the Golden Bachelor and admitted that he doesn’t know much about what “trending” means and especially what “grandzaddy” means.
Turner also gave his thoughts on the potential of his season including fantasy suites.
“I would say yes,” Turner said. “But what they would look like might be a little different. That’s a long way down the journey, it's a long way. And I think there’s a lot of steps that I and a potential partner would need to go through to get that, to make it a comfortable situation.”
And, given that Turner already has a successful 43-year-long marriage under his belt, he was asked to give advice for someone who also wants a long-lasting marriage.
“Look at your spouse every day and tell them you love them. Because the day comes too soon for one of you that you can’t do that. And I would give anything to be able to do that one more time,” Turner said. “Tell them that you love them every day. Give them that hug.”
And speaking of Turner’s previous love story, he talked about how he actually wants things to go differently this time around.
“I don’t think that’s what I’m looking for," Turner said of his story with Toni. "What I look for at the age of 70 is different than what I looked for when I was in high school or college. So I believe I’ll find my person, the new person that will make me whole again. And I think we’ll knit a wonderful relationship, but I don't think it’ll look like the relationship I had with Toni. And I don’t think it would be right to do it that way.”
Turner’s story and heartfelt answers to Palmer’s questions quickly endeared him to everyone in the room, not to mention viewers at home. And some took to social media to sing his praises.
Gerry the golden bachelor is the perfect grandpa he’s the man #TheBachelorette
— Bruce White (@BruceWhite22) August 15, 2023
— Kim Collette-Waller (@Bobcatkim21) August 15, 2023
Golden bachelor guy seems so sweet, I’m actually looking forward to his season!
— Brittany J. (@Bjl819) August 15, 2023
The Bachelorette suitors — who were all there to rehash a season that ultimately ended with them being sent home before next week’s finale — were all clearly big fans of Turner as well. And as the Golden Bachelor personally greeted the guys on his way out while the credits rolled, he asked for any last-second advice. The quick responses he got included the following:
“Embrace it man, once in a lifetime.”
“Stay true to yourself.”
“Have fun with it.”
“I would say everyone’s gonna love you, but don’t read the comments.”
And, of course, they reminded him that people calling him "grandzaddy" on social media is a good thing.
The Golden Bachelor premieres this fall. The Bachelorette Season 20 finale airs Monday, Aug. 21 at 8 p.m. on ABC.