NEW YORK -- Gerry Turner has a heart of gold and that's the key attribute that made him such a great choice to be the very first "Golden Bachelor."
He's intent on listening to each of the 22 women vying for his heart. The widower of six years still breaks down in tears when having to describe his high school sweetheart's untimely passing from a bacterial infection. They had been married for 43 years and now he lives in their dream lake house in Indiana alone.
"Every time I look at that lake I think that was her dream," he said. "Why am I standing here alone?"
His two daughters and granddaughters are his biggest fans and want their patriarch to be happy and "find someone fun!"
The calm, soft-spoken Gerry wants to find love with someone 60+ so that they can get his cultural references, listen to music, and talk about things that seniors have an interest in...like pickleball, we should expect at least SOME pickleball this season!
The women are stunningly beautiful and a portrait of what active living in your golden years can be if you're ready to make your own fun. Something that Gerry told Eyewitness News Entertainment Reporter Sandy Kenyon in their very candid one-on-one interview.
The Limos Arrive
Gerry seemed nervous as he met up with host Jesse Palmer outside Bachelor Mansion. "I'm going to meet the woman of my dreams very shortly. I hope I recognize her," Gerry said.
He seems to believe in love at first sight and has said, when you see it, you know it.
He's stunned right out of the gate by beautiful 60-year-old Edith who kicked things off by giving Gerry a party popper to use with her and they set off the journey with golden confetti.
"Roberta we made it!" shouted Ellen, 71. Her BFF Roberta has cancer and they are the biggest fans of "The Bachelor." She's doing this for her friend and for herself to have a second chance at love.
Sandra, 75, from Atlanta, pretended to do some deep breathing when she yelled the F-word. Gerry thought it was hilarious.
Leslie is 64 from Minnesota and she's a dancer and fitness instructor. She pretended to be an old lady with a walker when she met Gerry, but then she threw them away! Gerry loved it. She also claims Prince wrote a song about her.
The show shuffles through a bunch of the other introductions quite quickly, so you can view our full list of candidates here. But, before we got to the main event of night one, Gerry met Theresa from New Jersey. It just happened to be her 70th birthday that very night! She showed off her "birthday suit" which was actually just a beige mini dress under a trench coat. She's also a widow and says it's been nine years since her husband passed. She is super active and loves hanging out with her grandsons.
Look out for April, she grew up on a chicken farm and she told Gerry that her 65-year-old eggs are still very fresh. She seems like a lot of fun. She says she wants to be in love again, but that she's lucky because she's had three men really love her.
Susan told Gerry she's "very comfortable with six inches." These ladies are saucy! If anything, their age has given them a confidence the younger contestants often don't have.
"I'll see you in hell!" one contestant yelled as she got out of the limo. Guess who it is? It's Aunt Chippy from Jimmy Kimmel! She wanted to meet him so Jimmy arranged it. She didn't take part in the rose ceremony later, she was just there for fun. "I'm in the wrong place," she said. "These ladies are really something!"
"There's no way she's over 60," one woman said of Faith who rode in on a motorcycle to meet Gerry. She's actually 61! "I refer to myself as a fun monger." She's divorced since 2005, but she really wants to find love again. "I'm not dead yet!"
"My life got a lot brighter in the last hour or two," Gerry told Jesse after he had met all 22 women.
While it looks like Gerry toasted the women with a glass of orange juice, he said that there was vodka in there. His drink of choice that evening was a screwdriver, handed to him by Theresa.
The women were having a love fest and just enjoying being around each other. But, we'll see how long that lasts.
April spoke to him first and gave him a calendar where every month was April! It had details and pictures about her life. She gave him a peck on the lips. "It's remembering who I was before I was a caretaker and a matriarch," she said of this experience. If that didn't just hit the nail on the head. This experience means so much to all of the women, and Gerry of course. It's a chance at a rediscovery of who they are.
Ellen told Gerry about her friend Roberta, and how she will never give up and to "never say never" when it comes to new experiences and new love. "I haven't felt this giddy and excited in years," Ellen said. "It is the best day of my life in so long." "Roberta, he's a hunk!!!"
Natascha and Gerry did a weird little laughing exercise. But, they seemed to enjoy each other. Sandra who says F*** freaked out when a bug crawled on the floor near them and they stomped it out together. Marina told Gerry that her daughter told her to tell him that he was "dope." Gerry replied, "My granddaughter told me I had rizz." I'll let you Urban Dictionary that one.
Susan and Gerry bonded over their love of the song "At Last." But when it came to music, Gerry was smitten with Faith's song that she sang for him while playing the guitar. It wasn't bad! Gerry is so free-flowing with the compliments and the women all love that he truly "listens." Younger "Bachelors" take note!
Gerry and Leslie danced together and it was a bit cringe, but you had to laugh. Good for him! He's taking chances and being vulnerable. The other women all joined in and it became a dance party! This easily was one of Gerry's best days ever haha!
Enter Jesse with the first impression rose. That changed the tone in the room. The women were pulling out all the stops, a genie lamp from Jeanie, and some basketball playing, all skills were on display. Matt James' mom bonded with him over the fact that she saw her son go through this whole process and that it worked for him.
Theresa finally got her chance to speak with Gerry and she read a heartfelt and funny letter from her daughter. He really seemed to get along with her! He loved that they had so much in common with their families. He said he was going to get something, but it was a birthday cupcake with 70 on top, not the first impression rose. She blew out the candle and made a wish. Gerry kind of grossly asked if he took a bite and got frosting on his face if she'd help clean it up, and she said "YES!" and they kissed! Get it Theresa! Theresa said she's having the best birthday ever. Gerry said while it's her birthday, he felt like he got the present. So that was cute. Theresa thought she had the first impression rose in the bag, but that proved not to be the case.
First Impression Rose
He gave it to Faith! She was so taken by Gerry and the fact that he gave her the very first rose. He told her that she got the rose because she made him feel so special and it wasn't because of her beautiful song or that she rode in on a motorcycle. "I felt so special!" she cried. The other women looked on in horror as they made out in the driveway of Bachelor Mansion.
1) Faith - first impression rose
Anna, Maria, Pamela, Patty (Matt James' mom), Renee, and Sylvia were eliminated. Gerry cried as the women left. He felt truly awful dashing their hopes for a second chance at love.
Coming Up Next Week and Beyond
Coming up this season on "The Golden Bachelor," Gerry does a lot more kissing and a lot more crying! He wants to find the woman he can't live without! Gerry makes the doomed choice to tell a woman he loved "in the moment" that he loved them. He truly regretted it later. He said he only wanted to tell one more woman, other than his wife, those three little words. That's going to be a rough situation for him to deal with. "The only time I felt worse in my whole life is when my wife passed away and this is a G**damn close second," Gerry said. "I'm done." But, clearly, the show goes on and Gerry gets to go on an amazing adventure. There's a flash forward of him at the end podium and then walking off with a woman saying, "Here's to a long life, together."
"The Golden Bachelor" airs Thursday nights with "Bachelor in Paradise" following on ABC.