‘The Golden Bachelor’: Gerry, Theresa announce divorce on GMA


“The Golden Bachelor” star Gerry Turner was overjoyed when he proposed to financial services professional Theresa Nist, putting a fairy-tale stamp on his journey to find love again at 72. The couple rushed to get married, eager to start their new life together.

But the fairy tale is over. Just more than three months after their sprint to the altar, in a gala ceremony televised live on ABC, the widower and his new bride are breaking up.

The couple announced the bombshell during an emotional interview Friday on “Good Morning America.” While maintaining that they still love and cherish each other, they say they realized the obstacles of moving forward as husband and wife are too daunting.

After a number of heart-to-heart conversations, “we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s probably time to dissolve our marriage,” Turner said in the interview. They also said they were nervous about how fans would react to the shocking news.

Much of the decision was linked to the inability to decide how to merge their lives. One challenge? Nist lives in New Jersey, while Turner is from Indiana. They had hoped to compromise by moving to South Carolina, but they could never reach an agreement.

“The thing that strikes me the most has been how dedicated we are to our families,” Turner said. “We just feel like it’s the best, for the happiness of both of us, to live apart.”

The announcement marks a stunning epilogue to the wildly successful launch of “The Golden Bachelor,” a spinoff of “The Bachelor” reality franchise. The show’s popularity, which extended beyond the core Bachelor Nation fan base, was largely credited to Turner’s natural warmth and charisma, which transformed the retired restaurateur into a national celebrity.

Episodes showing Turner dating a pool of 22 women, inspiring viewing parties at retirement homes and senior centers across the nation. And while Turner’s primary goal was to find a life partner, he also wanted to convey a message of hope to older viewers that they should never give up on finding romance and love.

“I feel we accomplished something very meaningful and historic,” Turner told The Times in November. “Because of how strong the women were and how much I enjoyed the journey, the message of hope that at our age we were still meaningful and we can still find love came out so strongly. That is the part of history that I hope carries on. Theresa and I have gotten so many letters from people who have said, ‘We’ve watched you on the show and we have developed so much confidence that we are going to go out there and date.’ ”

A key part of the connection between Turner and Nist were their similar personal histories. Both were married for more than 40 years to their high-school sweethearts. Turner’s wife, Toni, died of a bacterial infection; Nist’s husband, Billy, died of kidney failure. Both said they had not been involved in a serious relationship since their spouses passed away.

In the season finale, Turner chose Nist over finalist Leslie Fhima as his bride-to-be. Holding hands as they faced each other in a lush field, Turner told Nist, “You’re not the right person for me to live with,” pausing dramatically before declaring: “You’re the person I can’t live without.”

In the “After the Final Rose” segment of the November finale, the couple declared they would get married in January. The lavish ceremony was held at the La Quinta Resort & Club and was attended by hundreds, including several alumni of “The Bachelor” franchise. The reception featured Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin,’ ” which the couple adopted as their song.

In his interview with The Times after the finale, Turner said the two were close to figuring out how they would blend their lives.

“For the last couple of years at Christmastime, my family and I would talk about how the fall chores at the lake house were getting too much for me to handle by myself,” he said. “I had identified Charleston, S.C., as a place I could possibly move to and live. In conversations near the end of my journey, Theresa talked about having a son and three grandsons in the Charleston area. All of a sudden, the possible obstacle of geography melted away. Maybe it’s fate that really helped us in that department, but it really lifted a burden off both of us on what that compromise would be.”

Although the inaugural season of “The Golden Bachelor” did not have a happy ending, plans are still moving forward for the franchise’s launch of “The Golden Bachelorette,” with the announcement of its star forthcoming.


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