“The Golden Bachelor” star Gerry Turner opened up about meeting the 22 women who were vying for his heart following the show’s premiere on Thursday.
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, the 72-year-old widower shared his thoughts on the episode’s biggest moments including his “quick” connection to some of the women, the one limo arrival that “embarrassed” him and the surprise cameo from Jimmy Kimmel’s aunt Concetta “Chippy” Potenza, 84.
Turner, who ultimately sent six of the contestants home, told the outlet that the “variety of entrances” made by the women was the highlight of the night for him.
“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,” the retired restaurateur said.
In keeping with “Bachelor” tradition, a number of the women hoping to make a lasting impression on Turner staged attention-grabbing limo entrances complete with costumes, props, gags and stunts.
Leslie, 72, pushed a walker while wearing a gray wig and nightgown as she met Turner. The fitness instructor then stood upright, threw the walker aside and ripped the wig and nightgown off to reveal her long brown hair and strapless black dress.
April, 65, arrived carrying a basket of eggs and then danced around Turner as she clucked like a chicken. The therapist later became the first contestant to pull Turner aside for a one-on-one conversation during which she gave him a handmade calendar that was filled only with the month of April and featured photos of herself on every page.
70-year-old Theresa greeted Turner in a robe before telling him that she had her birthday suit on since it was her birthday. Turner appeared nervous as she began to open her robe, but Theresa revealed that she was wearing a nude bodysuit underneath.
Renee, 67, met Turner in a cheerleading tracksuit and performed a routine for him with pom-poms while Edith, 60, popped a canister of golden confetti.
However, Turner admitted that it was contestant Sandra’s entrance that left him “embarrassed.” The 75-year-old retired executive assistant told Turner that she was “awfully nervous” and wanted to use a “zen practice” to help her calm down. Sandra then began to chant “F—” repeatedly as Turner laughed.
“I was embarrassed by that,” Turner told the Hollywood Reporter. “I kept hoping that she was going to say a different word, and it repeated and repeated. So yeah, enough said.”
However, Sandra was one of the 16 women who received a rose from Turner at the episode’s conclusion.
Contestant Faith surprised Turner when she arrived at the mansion on a motorcycle. Turner referenced her entrance as he explained his decision to later give the 60-year-old high school teacher the “First Impression Rose.”
“Of course, her entrance on a motorcycle stood out,” Turner said. “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.”
During the episode, Turner kissed Faith, April and Theresa, the latter of whom he presented with a cupcake to celebrate her birthday. Prior to the premiere, Turner admitted that he had broken a promise he made to his daughters and granddaughters. The Indiana native revealed that he had previously assured his family that he would not kiss any of the women on night one.
Turner became a widower after his wife passed away suddenly in 2017 due to a bacterial infection. The two were high school sweethearts and had married in 1974.
During his interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Turner said he didn’t find it “surprising at all” that he was open to exploring his relationships with the women through physical affection.
“I was there to find my forever partner, and I was willing to become a little vulnerable, a little open,” he explained. “So when some of those feelings moved me and moved another one of the women for something like that, I didn’t hold back.”
Turner also revealed that he almost gave Theresa the first impression rose. “Certainly, there was nothing negative about why she didn’t get the rose,” he told THR.
He continued, “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.”
During the episode, Kimmel’s Aunt Chippy made a surprise appearance as a bonus contestant, telling Turner that she was “curious.” Upon entering the mansion and meeting the other contestants, Aunt Chippy noted, “This ain’t no 80-year-old club that’s for sure.”
Aunt Chippy was later seen sleeping on a sofa. Turner told THR that he found her cameo “very enjoyable.”
“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,” he recalled. “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.”
During the show’s first rose ceremony, Turner eliminated six contestants including Patty James, the mother of “The Bachelor” alum Matt James. Turner, who admitted that he had been dreading the ceremony, teared up as the women left.
In his interview with THR, Turner said that he was “a little bit” taken aback by his emotional response after the rose ceremony.
“That was somewhat of a surprise, but in an energy — and emotionally charged night like that, feelings are bubbling just below the surface,” he said.
Turner continued, “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.”
Though Turner revealed that the evening didn’t end until 7:30 am the following morning, he remembered “being wide awake and energized still at that time and enjoying the opportunity to have conversations.”
“I really liked it,” he added.
However, Turner admitted that he faced some tougher times than he had anticipated while filming the show.
“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,” he said.