Who Is Gerry Turner, the ‘Golden Bachelor’?

The Indiana native is the first senior citizen to join Bachelor Nation.

golden bachelor
(Image credit: ABC)

More than three years after ABC first began putting out feelers for an aged-up version of The Bachelor, it's finally happening. The Golden Bachelor is set to premiere on Thursday, Sept. 28, featuring Bachelor Nation’s first lead to qualify for AARP benefits.

Gerry Turner, the titular singleton, is “71 years young” and hails from Indiana. Though his series will follow the standard Bachelor format—with rose ceremonies, group and one-on-one dates, hometown visits, and, yes, trips to the fantasy suite—The Golden Bachelor will air in one-hour installments, rather than the franchise’s typical two-hour episodes.

And while viewers are sure to get to know Gerry (pronounced like Gary, not Jerry) very well throughout the inaugural season of the show, we’ve already gathered quite a bit of intel on the newly minted reality star. Here’s what we know so far about the first-ever Golden Bachelor.

He’s a widower.

Gerry was married to his high school sweetheart, Toni, for more than 40 years, until she died from a sudden bacterial infection in 2017.

In an interview with New York Times, Gerry reminisced about meeting Toni in high school, when he would rush to dances held at the YMCA because he knew she would be there. They made wedding plans during Gerry's junior year of college at the University of Iowa, and they had a happy life with their two daughters.

“We had a real typical but beautiful life, full of love, full of activity,” Gerry said in an emotional introductory video that debuted during Charity Lawson’s season of The Bachelorette. “We had a plan, and we had an idea of what our dream house was going to be.”

They bought that dream house on a lake in Indiana in June 2017, shortly after Toni retired, but she soon developed a bacterial infection and passed away only a few weeks after they closed on the house.

“Every time I look at that lake, I go, ‘This is her dream. This is what she deserves. Why am I standing here alone?’” Gerry said in the video.

In an interview with Good Morning America, Gerry said he believes he has Toni’s blessing to look for love on The Golden Bachelor.

“We always told each other, when one of us goes, we want the other one to be happy,” he said. “She’s up there rooting. She’s saying, ‘Yeah, Gerry, do this.’”

His daughters pushed him to sign up for the show.

Gerry and Toni had two daughters, Angie and Jenny, and two granddaughters, Charlee and Payton. He’s said that applying for The Golden Bachelor was his daughters’ idea, and he’s also credited them with helping him through the tough years after his wife’s death.

“No one’s ever gonna replace Toni. But the love of my daughters and my granddaughters pulled me out of a dark spot,” he said in the intro video.

The video showed the women in his life helping Gerry practice conducting rose ceremonies on the show—and teaching him to strike the right balance between looking serious and on the edge of tears. On a more heartfelt note, they also expressed hope that he’s able to fall in love again, “not to replace [Toni], but to make him happy.”

“My dad is just such a fun guy. He’s so personable and lovable; he’s so kind, and he has so much to give. He just deserves to find that in somebody else,” Angie said in the video.

Golden Bachelor Gerry Turner family

(Image credit: ABC)

He’s a busy retiree—and a hopeless romantic.

Before retiring, Gerry built a career as a restaurateur, according to his ABC bio. Now, he keeps busy playing pickleball, going four-wheeling and hosting barbecues. He’s also an avid Chicago sports fan and loves spending quality time with his friends and family.

And while any potential partners will need to be able to match Gerry’s high energy, he’s also hoping they’ll fill a missing piece of his life.

“I hope at the end of it, I find the person that I’ll spend the rest of my life with, that’ll complete our family,” he said in the ABC video. 

“I wanna fall in love. I really wanna find my person who can put me in my place when I need it and make me smile at it; the person who can lay down beside you at night and not have to say anything, and you feel it,” he continued. “That’s love. That’s what I want, and I know that person’s out there.”

He’ll be dating 22 women on ‘The Golden Bachelor.’

The chances are good that Gerry will find the second love of his life on the show, since he’ll have almost two dozen candidates to start with. Gerry joked in the intro video that the “best-case scenario” would be if Helen Mirren joined the roster, and while she doesn’t seem to have made the cut (perhaps something to do with her longtime husband), the 22 women who will be joining him on the show certainly seem like fantastic alternatives to the Oscar winner.

ABC unveiled those lucky ladies at the end of August. All are between the ages of 60 and 75, and all are described as “accomplished golden ladies” who will “take time away from their established home lives, friends and family, in the quest to rediscover love—and perhaps even themselves—in the process,” per the network.

One of the women vying for Gerry’s heart is no stranger to Bachelor Nation: 70-year-old Patty is the mother of former Bachelor Matt James. She’s a retired real estate professional from North Carolina, and, according to her ABC bio, she loves coffee, books and body glitter—a woman after my own heart!

He says he was "sincere and honest" while filming the show.

As the season's premiere approaches, Gerry has opened up more about his experience being the Golden Bachelor. He shared that he received lots of advice from his daughters Jennie and Angie, including the necessity of being genuine and true to himself. He also told NYT that his granddaughters told him not to kiss anyone on the first night, though, he added, "I failed."

As for what he learned about himself during filming, he admitted to The Hollywood Reporter that he found he was "pretty quick to tears," and that he was surprised at his ease in compartmentalizing his feelings for each of the women. "When I talked to one woman one day or one afternoon, I’d learn about her, and then I’d set that bit of information aside and start a whole new box for the next woman so that I’d learn more about that person without thinking about the previous one," he told the outlet.

All in all, he says he's secure in the parts of himself that he presented for the world to see. "As I went through, whether it was the rose ceremonies, the dates, or just the one-on-one conversation, I really tried hard to just be myself," he told THR. In doing that, my emotions were very close to the surface a lot of the time. I’m not really going to apologize for it because I feel like I was sincere and honest. What people see is what I am."

Andrea Park

Andrea Park is a Chicago-based writer and reporter with a near-encyclopedic knowledge of the extended Kardashian-Jenner kingdom, early 2000s rom-coms and celebrity book club selections. She graduated from the Columbia School of Journalism in 2017 and has also written for W, Brides, Glamour, Women's Health, People and more.