Joan Vassos Is Announced as First ‘Golden Bachelorette’


It has only been a month since the storybook ending of “The Golden Bachelor,” ABC’s buzzy spinoff of “The Bachelor,” featuring cast members 60 and up, got a divorce-announcement epilogue.

But ABC is giving the dating franchise another chance at love.

Joan Vassos will be the first “Golden Bachelorette” in a new season of the reality dating show this fall. The announcement was made on Tuesday by Ryan Seacrest at ABC’s upfront, a showcase where a broadcaster presents its lineup to advertisers.

Ms. Vassos, a 61-year-old school administrator from Rockland, Md., was a contestant on the inaugural season of “The Golden Bachelor” last year. A mother of four and grandmother of two, Ms. Vassos earned the affection of the series lead, Gerry Turner, after writing him a poem titled “I Just Hope I Don’t Vomit on Your Shoes.”

Ms. Vassos and Mr. Turner also bonded over the grief each had experienced after the death of a spouse. She chose to leave the show during its third week because her daughter was experiencing health problems soon after giving birth.

In her brief time on the show, Ms. Vassos was the contestant who perhaps best articulated ABC’s stated intention for the spinoff: to put a long-overdue spotlight on older Americans.

“My heart maybe got a little fixed from Gerry,” Ms. Vassos said as she left the Bachelor Mansion. “As you get older, you become more invisible. People don’t see you anymore. Like you’re not as significant as when you’re young.”

Ms. Vassos and the other 21 women on the “Golden Bachelor” dated Mr. Turner, 72, an affable widower from Indiana whose squeaky-clean romantic history was later called into question by an article in The Hollywood Reporter. (He said he had given the article only “a cursory look.”)

After a season of flash mobs, wedding dress fittings and more serious conversations about grief and loss, Mr. Turner proposed to Theresa Nist, a 70-year-old financial services professional from New Jersey.

Mr. Turner and Ms. Nist married in January in a Southern California ceremony picturesque enough to be televised live. (And it was.) Just three months later, they announced that they would divorce, during an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” citing their commitments to their families.

Despite the messy aftermath, the show’s first season drew strong ratings for the franchise. It also attracted a fresh round of press and social media attention to a series that some viewers felt had grown stale after more than two decades on air.

Fans of the show celebrated the “Golden Bachelorette” announcement on social media, although some expressed surprise that Leslie Fhima, a runner-up on “The Golden Bachelor” and a fan favorite, had not been cast in Ms. Vassos’ place.

After the announcement, Ms. Vassos posted a promotional video for the upcoming season on Instagram. “The secret is out!” she wrote, adding that she was “honored” to be the first female lead of the spinoff.


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