Gerry Turner, the first-ever senior lead, was officially introduced on the Monday, July 17, episode of Good Morning America. “It feels amazing and it’s still sinking in,” the 71-year-old said of his casting, adding that he’s looking for a “high-energy” partner.
While reflecting on his journey to reality TV, Gerry joked his daughters “started screaming” when host Jesse Palmer called him with the good news. He opened up further about his past marriage to his high school sweetheart, Toni, who passed away in 2017.
“I have her picture on a dresser in my closet. … For a while, it was like I was having a hard time figuring out if she would be OK [with me moving on],” he said. “But we always told each other, when one of us goes we’d want the other one to be happy. She’s up there rooting [for me].”
In May, ABC finally confirmed they were ready to tell “a whole new kind of love story” after years of seeking out older contestants. “The women arriving at the mansion have a lifetime of experience, living through love, loss and laughter, hoping for a spark that ignites a future full of endless possibilities. In the end, will our Golden man turn the page to start a new chapter with the woman of his dreams?” asked a press release.
The Golden Bachelor gives its lucky hopefuls the chance to find “a partner with whom to share the sunset years of life,” the network added.
Casting ads began airing during Peter Weber‘s season 24 of The Bachelor, which premiered in early 2020. Variety reported that summer that filming for the newly developed series was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but producers were still hopeful the project would come to fruition.
“It’s such a different way of doing The Bachelor because these people are just at a totally different place in their lives,” ABC’s Rob Mills told the outlet. “There is an interesting thing about people who have hit the other end of the spectrum, who’ve lived their lives, they’ve raised their kids, some have been widowed or divorced and maybe some have never been in love. We thought that would be an interesting dynamic through the Bachelor prism.”
At the time, Mills hinted that the format would be familiar to longtime Bachelor Nation fans — but with some subtle changes. “It’s everything you love about The Bachelor, but everybody loves senior citizens because they have different love stories to talk about,” he said.
Interest in The Golden Bachelor grew even stronger in early 2022 during Clayton Echard‘s season 26. As part of the night one limo arrivals, an older contestant named Holly — then 63 — showed up at the Bachelor Mansion and told Clayton, “I’m here for the other Bachelor, you know, so I feel like I’m in the wrong place.”
The Golden Bachelor is set to kick off in September, airing Mondays after Dancing With the Stars. Currently, fans are keeping up with Charity Lawson‘s journey on The Bachelorette‘s milestone 20th season.
“I advise everyone — if you don’t believe it, test it out for yourself,” Charity exclusively told Us Weekly in June of falling in love with more than one contestant throughout the process. “I don’t know when you have the opportunity to be the Bachelorette or Bachelor, but try it in the real world [and] you’ll find out.”