Ted Turner, who told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he is “still working” on making the world a better place, serenaded a crowd at his 80th birthday party in Atlanta on Saturday.
The CNN founder, philanthropist and former media and sports mogul — whose birthday is actually on Monday — crooned on stage to prominent and not-so-prominent well-wishers representing much of the breadth of his life.
They ranged from ex-wife Jane Fonda (who later sang for him) to fellow environmental supporters such as former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, crew members from his 1977 America’s Cup win on the yacht Courageous, former U.S. senator and nuclear-proliferation fighter Sam Nunn, cowboy-hat wearing ranchers from his massive landholdings, a long table full of children and grandchildren, civil rights icon and ex-United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young, legendary Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox, and former and current CNN journalists and executives including chief Jeff Zucker and political anchor Wolf Blitzer.
Turner, who gave more than $1 billion to support the UN, recently disclosed he has been diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, a progressive brain disorder. He said he is battling forgetfulness and exhaustion.
Still, he greeted hundreds of people at a birthday bash at the St. Regis Atlanta hotel in Buckhead. He later said he hoped he would remember the words to songs he got on stage to sing: “My Old Kentucky Home” and “Home on the Range.” The crowd sang along with him on the latter.
Fonda, the actress and one of Turner’s three ex-wives, then took to the stage to sing a song written to honor him, then told him: “You are a good man, Ted Turner, and the world is a better place because of you.”
Turner told the AJC how he hopes to be remembered: “He was a good person and tried to help make the world a better place. …. I’m still working on it. I think it is a little better.”