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Behind the Golden Bachelor Bombshell: Our Media Critic Has the Scoop

Excuse us?! Gerry and Theresa are divorcing after three months? Our media critic, who has smelled a rat all along, explains why it unraveled so fast.

By now, you’ve probably heard the truth. Despite their magnificent romantic “journey” and the two-hour “fairy-tale” wedding, all chronicled on ABC, our first ever Golden Bachelor, Gerry Turner, 72 and his besotted, financial professional wife, Theresa Nist, 70, who bonded deeply over their mutual widowhood, are “dissolving” their marriage. 

It’s been three months. 

When Gerry (pronounced “Gary,” as in Indiana) used the odd word “dissolve” in an appearance on Good Morning America last week, the interviewer, Juju Chang, wanted to clarify that by using another “d” word: “You mean divorce?”

That’s what he meant. 

Surely, they could have faked it for another two months to go on the all-expense-paid honeymoon in Italy?

But in Indiana, you are allowed to legally “dissolve” a marriage. And Gerry filed to do so right after the Friday morning appearance. 

What was mystifying was that the pair sat there holding hands, professing their love for each other while Gerry yammered on about their love for their families.

It’s a whiplash situation. Surely, they could have faked it for another two months to go on The-Bachelor-paid honeymoon in Italy?

What’s ironic was that this golden version was applauded for its authenticity, in showing elders as non-rocking-chaired, fully alive humans (within the limits of a fake reality show) who had active lives and were interested in sex.

That was a revolution for prime-time TV, and the show became the talk of pop culture. Non-cynically, therefore, we presumed that this mature adult widower, with his long marriage, life experience, and advanced listening skills, would somehow be a more reliable narrator than the twentysomething cads with six-pack abs who preceded him in those hot tubs.

We were wrong.

Read more: The Ecstasy and Agony: Deeper into the Golden Bachelor 

The Truth About Gerry

Gerry and Theresa, showing off her engagement ring, with their wedding officiant.

As a franchise, of course, The Bachelor has a notoriously dismal record on marriages.

The number of couples who have stayed together over the two decades of the show is  a tiny percentage. Of all, the most successful couple is Trisha and Ryan, who’ve been together more than 20 years. 

And that’s because she picked him.

One of the top reasons for divorce, of course, is financial trouble. And here I must bring up Gerry’s true back story. 

My colleague Suzanne O’Malley and I wrote the piece for The Hollywood Reporter that appeared the day before the Golden Bachelor finale, revealing his deceptions.

Turns out that Turner – so charming, magnetic, and charismatic on the show, with his new wardrobe, fake tan, highlighted hair, and augmented teeth – had been misrepresented from the get-go.

Gerry’s story about having “never been kissed” in the five years since his wife’s death was an easily checkable fraud.

It might be easy to blame casting and production, but Gerry repeatedly sold the lie about having “never been kissed” in the five years since his beloved wife’s death. It lent sweet poignance to the narrative, but it was an easily checkable fraud.

In the THR piece, we revealed that Gerry had had at least three relationships after his wife died, one starting just a month after her funeral.

Suzanne talked with one of his exes who lived with him for a year and half after Gerry had romanced her for a year. She did most of the traveling, but he finally persuaded her to move to his “dream home” on a lake in Hudson, Indiana. She didn’t want to move, since her mother was ailing, but Gerry made a point of visiting her mother to tell her that they’d marry.

When she did move in with him, he was a cheap bastard who demanded she pay rent and that she pay for her half for any restaurant tab in advance, so that he could handle the check in public. She also told Suzanne that it was like “being married to TV’s Monk” in that Gerry was so fussy about his hyper-organization and being an “efficiency expert.”

He threw her out in the cold, literally, when he decided that the relationship was over. 

But Theresa didn’t know this.

Does Money Change Everything?

It wasn’t until the “Fantasy Suite” episode, part of the finale, that Gerry asked Theresa about her work. When she told him that she had several licenses and had a serious job in finance, his eyes bugged out. That, and the fact that while in bed together they discussed moving to Charleston, S.C., where they both had family, seemed to be a deciding factor for him. Of course, the night before that, he had slept with Leslie, the sexy dancer, and made all sorts of promises to her.

It seems he took the road that he thought was paved with gold.

It seems he took the road that he thought was paved with gold. And that came with the free engagement ring and honeymoon, more TV money and fame, and presumably, since he hired an agent, high-paying golden spokesman engagements and deals. 

A United Front…Not!

But their future was foretold on “Dear Shandy,” a podcast that Gerry and Theresa appeared on three weeks before their shocker breakup. 

They appeared on the show via Zoom from Gerry’s kitchen in Indiana, and Gerry mentioned that this was the first time Theresa had visited him there. That was a tell, since Gerry also said, in an undermining way, that Theresa had worked all week during the visit. 

He went on to say that he’d been retired “for a long time” and that he had always pictured that at this point in his life he’d have the freedom to “go and do.” The implication was that Theresa is still tethered to her job.  

The only time Gerry used the word “love” was in the context of how much he adores being recognized in public and taking selfies with fans. “I can honestly say that I have not turned down a single picture since the beginning,” he said with passion. “I love it.” 

The only time Gerry used the word “love” was in the context of how much he adores being recognized in public.

When asked if any of his beliefs had changed since the show, he answered, “I had a belief that at an older age, relationships would be easier, but you still have to do all the work. It’s actually more difficult because we got married and then got to know each other.”

Later he revealed that it hadn’t been a “cakewalk.” 

Theresa mentioned that they had been “more honest than we wanted to be” at the end, because the underlying tension was clear.

Gerry mentioned how alike they were in their organization and discipline and then gave a totally self-serving example that proved the opposite: that he’d been preparing for the interview 20 minutes beforehand, taking care of everything, while Theresa slipped in four minutes before. 

He made a big deal about “cultural differences in addition to distance” that stood between them. “If we were both Midwesterners or Easterners, it would be different.”

Perhaps that visit proved to Theresa that she was never moving to Indiana, as Gerry probably wanted. Maybe disagreeing about their future financial plans (including selling each of their houses and buying a new one together) sealed the deal on dissolution.

The Reality of Reality Shows

And come on: Appearing on a “reality” show, in which everything is pre-planned and the producers are looking for drama, and like to keep the cast boozed up is not the recipe for an honest union once they got out to the real world. 

After the ABC divorce bombshell, many people, including Jesse Palmer, host of The Bachelor, sent Instagram “thoughts and prayers” messages to G&T, as if they had died. 

They had a lot to lose, in terms of future earnings, by breaking up. But the most shocking part of the bombshell is that in the end, they chose to be honest and end it. 

Read more: The Golden Bachelor Gets His Woman. What Is She Getting?

By Barbara Lippert


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