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Turner Was Suicidal After Setbacks, Magazine Reports

April 17, 2001|Associated Press

NEW YORK — CNN founder Ted Turner was suicidal after the breakup of his marriage to Jane Fonda and losing control of Turner Broadcasting in the reorganization of AOL Time Warner, according to the New Yorker.

"I felt like Job," Turner said of his despondency last year. The magazine gave no details.

In addition to his marital and business problems, Turner had smashed his foot in a skiing accident and was experiencing back problems.

Turner told the magazine his marriage to Fonda broke up partly because of her decision to become a practicing Christian.

"She just came home and said, 'I've become a Christian,' " Turner said. "Before that, she was not a religious person. That's a pretty big change for your wife of many years to tell you. That's a shock."

Turner is a strident nonbeliever, having lost his faith after his sister, Mary Jane, died of a painful disease called systemic lupus erythematosus. "I was taught that God was love and God was powerful," Turner said. "And I couldn't understand how someone so innocent should be made or allowed to suffer so."

Turner describes himself as a "superachiever," attributing that to his upbringing. He told the New Yorker his father was often drunk, beat him and sent him to military school. When Ted was 24, his father, Ed Turner, took his own life.

Now that he no longer has a direct hand in the media business he founded, Turner is pursuing environmental causes and seeking to improve life for the world's poor and reduce the nuclear threat.

His next project is to team up with Bill Moyers for a series of PBS documentaries on world issues, for which the Turner Foundation will provide half the financing.

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