Ted Turner’s love of classic movies brought us TCM

It’s been 25 years since Ted Turner founded Turner Classic Movies (TCM), something the media titan considers one of his greatest accomplishments.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been that long, but I’m so happy that TCM continues to be a success with audiences today,” Turner, who will be honored on the opening night of the upcoming TCM Classic Film Festival, told CNN in a recent interview conducted over email. “I think that sense of nostalgia that comes with watching old movies gives people a lot of joy, myself included; and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.”

Turner founded Turner Broadcasting System (TBS), the nation’s first “superstation” using satellite technology to carry its signal in 1976, just four years before he launched CNN.

His love of classic films inspired his decision to later start a channel dedicated to preserving them, TCM.

“At the time, I had an extensive film collection at my disposal from my prior purchase of MGM; and I wanted to make sure they were properly showcased,” Turner said. “I always loved classic films and knew that if I loved them, chances were that other people did too.”

Turner’s favorite film?

“‘Gone with the Wind,’ and one of its most famous quotes lends itself very well to the spirit of land conservation, which has been a chief focus of mine for decades now: ‘Why, land’s the only thing in the world worth working for, worth dying for, because it’s the only thing that lasts.'”

Turner, who has dedicated much of his time and fortune to environmental preservation, said he wishes there was more of a focus on global issues by news organizations, including CNN.

“It doesn’t matter how much or how little someone is capable of — whether it’s picking up trash or opting to walk or ride your bike instead of driving your car — if we all decide to contribute, we can do wonders for the planet,” he said. “It’s all about working together … I still watch CNN and think that generally, they’ve done a good job. As a whole, I wish news organizations would focus more on real global issues, instead of fluff pieces or celebrity scandals.”

(Turner sold CNN, as well as the rest of Turner Broadcasting, to Time Warner in 1996. WarnerMedia is now the parent company of CNN and TCM.)

In a September interview with CBS, Turner, now 80, revealed he is battling Lewy body dementia. He said he feels “tired” and “exhausted” as a result of disorder. “That’s the main symptoms, and, forgetfulness,” he said in his interview with CBS.

When asked by CNN to reflect on his life accomplishments, Turner cited his family.

“Personally, I’m most proud of my children and grandchildren,” Turner added. “All five of my children, and my 14 grandchildren now as well, are critical thinkers who are hardworking, decent people. I like to think I had something to do with that.”