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Curry Kirkpatrick
August 21, 1978
Everybody wants to be a star, says Ted Turner, and as television tycoon, team owner and super sailor, he has become bigger, and a bit louder, than life
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August 21, 1978

Going Real Strawwng

Everybody wants to be a star, says Ted Turner, and as television tycoon, team owner and super sailor, he has become bigger, and a bit louder, than life

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I found it. I found it." Ted Turner, the famous detective, has found it. He had been searching for it over the past couple of days, or approximately since the dinner conversation during which Ted Turner, the famous basketball owner, told somebody how his miserable Atlanta Hawks were surprising the opposition just the way the Macedonians had surprised the Persians at Quagmala. Or Quagmira, or Guagmoola, or Guacamole, or somewhere. Ted Turner, the famous researcher, wasn't sure where the Macedonian upset occurred or how to spell the name of the place. "Nobody expected that either," he had said. "Outnumbered five to one, there they were. Alexander the Great digging in with his famous phalanxes. Nine men deep, with swords of different lengths over the shoulders of the men in front. Oh, maybe it was five men deep. God, how could a guy carry a sword that long? Alexander the Great shocked 'em. Just like the Hawks. Goddam. Go, Hawks!"

Now Ted Turner, the famous classicist, is at home, ripping through his encyclopedia. "Right here. Right here," he says. "Capital G-a-u-g-a-m-e-l-a. Gaugamela. I knew it. I knew it. Alexander the Great. What a man. What a plan. In high school I wrote a poem about his three battles. Granicus. Issus. Arbela. This isn't even one of those. Janey," he screams at his wife, "how about those grilled-cheese sandwiches? About four. Hurry and toast 'em good. You can do it. You got spunk.

"Now look at this," says Ted Turner, the famous sailor, ripping through a scrapbook. "This is me in 1966 at the SORC races. That's 12 years ago. Super! I sort of look like Errol Flynn there. What the hell, I haven't changed any. Except I was brash and loud then. Here's the reason the New York Yacht Club hated me," he says, ripping some more. "Look, I called this boat 'an old stocker.' We said the Atlanta Yacht Club would challenge the NYYC. Can you believe that? Only some old stuffed-up twits would get hot about that. What the hell. I got raked over the coals.

"Don't sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me," Ted Turner, the famous crooner, is singing now. "Anyone else but me. Anyone else but...."

"God, this hockey is awful. I can't understand why people like this game," says Ted Turner, the famous television-station owner, looking at his own Channel 17. "It's just as terrible in person as on TV. Something to keep small minds occupied. They say the only reason people go to the rink is because the players are white. Maybe hockey needs blacks. Naw. If it's black, nobody goes. I could buy this hockey team, but the thought alone is so frightening I can't even stand to turn the sound on. That's 40 more miserable nights in The Omni.

"Say, I had this guy picked out to manage the Braves," says Ted Turner, the famous baseball owner. "He was perfect. Bright, organized. Good credentials. Helluva guy. I liked him. I wanted him. But he's getting a divorce. Says his wife's contesting it. He doesn't know if she'll let him have the kids. So if she has them, how's he going to concentrate on managing my baseball team? If he has them, how's he going to concentrate? It's a real problem. I mean I could handle it. I had kids with two different wives. Drove everybody crazy. But back me into a corner and I'll come at you like thunder. I'm probably the toughest guy you'll ever meet. Is this guy dedicated enough? I can find out. I'll call him and tell him the job is his if he gets a gun and shoots his wife and kids. Now that's dedication. Goddam. The Braves. I love 'em."

Could he be pulling all this off anywhere but in Atlanta, Ted Turner, the famous civic leader, is asked. "Pull what off?" he shouts. "What do you think this is, some sort of con? This is just me, for Chrissakes. I got no need to take on the world. I'm just shufflin' along tryin' to survive. I think I'd be bigger in Chicago or L.A. or somewhere. Hell, they know what a boat is there. A lot more dumb people live in the bigger cities than in Atlanta. Maybe I'm a smart Gomer Pyle. How the hell do I know? How would I go over in New York? That's like asking me how I'd go over 200 years ago."

Jane Turner speaks up. " Jimmy Carter did it," she says.

"Carter didn't carry New York," her husband snaps. (He was wrong, but there was no going back.) "Anyway, nobody asked you so just shut up. I'm doin' the talkin' here. You just quiet your yap. If you can't keep your mouth shut," says Ted Turner, the famous Southern gentleman, "get the hell out of the room.

"Where was I? Everybody wants to be a star," says Ted Turner, the famous star. "The garbage collector wants to be O. J. Simpson, didn't you know that? I decided to go with the mustache when I saw Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind. 'Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.' What a line. What a time. You know where I'm really big? Australia. They really know their sailin' there. Look at this. Huge coverage. All over the front pages. Damn. You talk about a star."

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