Turner, the 72-year-old retired restaurateur from Indiana, met the 22 women competing for his final rose in the first installment of the dating franchise’s spinoff focusing on seniors. Turner, who has two daughters and two granddaughters, lost Toni, his high school sweetheart and wife of 43 years, when she passed away in 2017 following a bacterial infection.
During an interview with The Music news, Turner discussed all of the premiere’s biggest moments, including his brief time with Patty Cuculo James, mother to former Bachelor Matt James; his decision to give his first impression rose to Faith Martin; the challenge of finding time to chat with everyone; the one limo arrival that embarrassed him; and what’s to come later in the season.
What stands out most in your mind when you think back on the first night?
The variety of entrances stands out. That was a night that I had looked forward to for so long. I was really thrilled for it to finally arrive, and it was immensely fun to watch all the women get out of the limousines.
What was it about Faith that made her stand out to get that first impression rose?
Of course, her entrance on a motorcycle stood out. Later, when I met her for a brief conversation, her singing really stood out. But I think the reason she got that first impression rose was the look in those soft brown eyes. That was really pretty wonderful.
As soon as I saw that cupcake move that you pulled with Theresa, I realized I had underestimated what a smooth operator you are. (Laughs.)
(Laughs.) Well, I’ll take that as a compliment. Thank you very much.
Theresa seemed to really be hoping for the first impression rose. What was your connection like with her on that first night?
Certainly, there was nothing negative about why she didn’t get the rose. It’s more of a positive statement about Faith making the first impression. But with Theresa, it was a close second — I’ll say it that way. There were a number of women who made great entrances that night that could have won that first impression rose just as easily as Faith or Theresa.
It was a lot of fun to see you showing off some dance moves. I was like, “Get this guy on Dancing With the Stars ASAP.” What was it like to get to dance a little bit and find those fun moments during the night?
It was a nice way to relieve a little tension — move around a little bit so your knees doesn’t ache as much. (Laughs.) It was a lot of fun.
Leslie tells the camera that she had a connection with Prince. Did she mention anything about that to you?
Through the course of the season, she did share that with me, yes.
Patty was maybe the only contestant familiar to most viewers prior to the premiere, due to her son Matt James having been the Bachelor. She didn’t have much screen time and didn’t receive a rose. Did you get to talk much with her, and do you remember much about that connection?
Brief conversation. We talked about her family, her connection to the franchise through her son and so forth. Probably as much with her as with any of the women on that short first night.
It was funny to see Aunt Chippy drop by. I’m guessing she wasn’t trying to get a rose, but did you get to chat at all?
She was such a good sport, not only as she got out of the limo, but also later on, several hours later, she’s behind the mansion, sitting on a sofa. I stopped briefly to talk to her and complimented on her courage to do what she had done and so forth. Very enjoyable moment with her.
How tough was it for you to try and find time to talk with everyone?
I would always love to have more time to make tough decisions like that. The resource of time is very finite. You can’t replace it. That night was indeed difficult for managing time. If I could do one thing differently, it would’ve been to be able to have more time with each of those women because that was a tough decision.
It seemed that you weren’t expecting Sandra’s chant to involve curse words. How did you feel about that, and are you someone who doesn’t usually curse very much?
I was embarrassed by that. I kept hoping that she was going to say a different word, and it repeated and repeated. So yeah, enough said.
Premieres in this franchise are known for tears, but not always coming from the lead. Was that a surprise for you that you found yourself getting emotional?
Yeah, a little bit. That was somewhat of a surprise, but in an energy- and emotionally charged night like that, feelings are bubbling just below the surface. Getting to know the women as a group and how confident and poised and well-educated they were, the connection to them was quick, and it was deeper than someone would imagine just on such a short time. So having to send some of them home was extremely difficult at that point.
Viewers saw you kissing multiple women throughout the night, including a moment with Faith that got some attention. Were you surprised in how open you were to exploring those relationships through affection?
No, it wasn’t surprising at all. I was there to find my forever partner, and I was willing to become a little vulnerable, a little open. So when some of those feelings moved me and moved another one of the women for something like that, I didn’t hold back.
How late of a night was it for you?
The night ended about 7:30 in the morning. I remember being wide awake and energized still at that time and enjoying the opportunity to have conversations. I really liked it.
There appears to be a fair amount of drama in the promo for the rest of the season. Were there more tough moments in the process than you might have expected?
I knew that each rose ceremony would be a very difficult moment. I’m probably a softie anyway, so of course those were very difficult evenings and ceremonies.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
The Golden Bachelor airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.