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TCM’s plethora of classic programming is just the escapism the doctor ordered when realities are hard to handle



In the midst of rising fears of terrorism, Ebola, Russian expansionism and the recent deaths of dear Jean Allen and even my very own father, I thought a trip down movie memory lane would be appropriate for a little diversion and a change. This means Hollywood in all its classic glory, although Spain has its own very healthy film industry to boast about.

But ask any movie buff and they will tell you they know all about Turner Classic Movies, which brings Hollywood to TV screens around the world. Hosted by the erudite movie experts Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz, the popular network’s plethora of classic programming is just the escapism the doctor ordered when realities are hard to handle.

CNN live coverage of a past Nobel Prize ceremony

CNN live coverage of a past Nobel Prize ceremony

But what about Ted Turner himself, the American media mogul and philanthropist as well as the business tycoon, once Jane Fonda’s husband? Well, as the story goes, Turner’s media empire began at the age of 24 when he took over his deceased father’s billboard business. He founded the cable news network CNN and gave $1 billion dollars to the UN which created the United Nations Foundation, a public charity to broaden support for the UN. He has vast landholdings which he uses for ranches to repopulate bison herds.

In 1986, eight years before the launch of Turner Classic Movies, Ted Turner acquired the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studio for $1.5 billion dollars. Turner sold the studio back to the previous owner Kirk Kerkorian later, but as part of the deal, Turner Entertainment retained ownership of MGM’s film library, which served as the basis of TCM. Turner had been broadcasting films on TNT including a colorized version of black-and-white classics such as “The Maltese Falcon”. The first movie broadcast on TCM was the 1939 film “Gone with the Wind”.

TCM janetleigh star of the month

Movies of TCM Star of the Month Janet Leigh are shown on TCM Wednesdays this October

Now movie buffs are treated to marathons of their favorite actors and actresses as well as “silent” films dating back to the beginning of movie history. These historic and valuable archives of Hollywood greats never seem to run out of programming possibilities for TCM, while Ted Turner himself stays hidden behind it all.

Oh, Turner did receive the Audubon medal from the National Audubon Society in 1991 for his commitment to conservation-themed television programming and he was named Time magazine’s Man of the Year, but usually he stays in the background of his media empire.

When he does come out of the woodwork, his comments are considered “outrageous”. But Ted Turner, like him or not, has certainly had an important impact on modern media and American culture.



Featured image: Ted Turner and Jane Fonda at the 62nd Annual Academy Awards, March 1990, by Alan Light ( . CC-By-2.0
Janet Leigh movies as announced on the TCM site