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Geraldo Rivera

Geraldo Rivera

Geraldo Rivera (born Gerald Michael Riviera; July 4, 1943)[1][2] is an American tabloid talk show host, journalist, attorney, and author. He was the host of the talk show Geraldo from 1987 to 1998. Rivera hosted the newsmagazine program Geraldo at Large, hosts the occasional broadcast of Geraldo Rivera Reports (in lieu of hosting At Large), and appears regularly on Fox News programs such as The Five

ResidenceShaker Heights, Ohio, U.S.
EducationState University of New York Maritime College University of Arizona(BS)Brooklyn Law School(JD)
OccupationJournalist, talk show host, writer, attorney
Years active1970–present
OrganizationFox News Channel
TelevisionGeraldoGeraldo at LargeThe Five
Political partyRepublican
FamilyCraig Rivera(brother)

Early life

Rivera was born at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, New York, the son of Lillian (née Friedman; October 16, 1919 – June 3, 2018) and Cruz "Allen" Rivera (October 1, 1915 – November 1987), a restaurant worker and cab driver respectively.[3][4] Rivera's father was a Puerto Rican Catholic,[3] and his mother was of Russian Jewish descent. He was raised "mostly Jewish" and had a Bar Mitzvah ceremony.[6][7] He grew up in Brooklyn and West Babylon, New York, where he attended West Babylon High School. Rivera's family was sometimes subjected to prejudice and racism, and his mother took to spelling their surname as "Riviera" to avoid having bigotry directed at them (and only his sister Sharon did not have her surname misspelled.).[8][9]

When I was born, my mother filled in my birth certificate with the name Gerald Riviera, adding an extra "i" to my father's surname.

She did the same thing for my sister Irene.

Later, she would drop the pretense for my sister Sharon, only to pick it up again with the birth of my baby brother Craig.

Whenever we asked about the inconsistencies, she would shrug shyly and joke her way out of it.

"I just forgot how to spell it," she would say, and leave it at that.

Underneath, I came to realize, she was deeply embarrassed over what was a clumsy attempt at an ethnic cover-up.

From September 1961 to May 1963, he attended the State University of New York Maritime College, where he was a member of the rowing team.[10][11] In 1965, Rivera graduated from the University of Arizona (where he continued his involvement in athletics as a goalie on the lacrosse team) with a B.S. in business administration.

Following a series of jobs ranging from clothing salesman to short-order cook, Rivera enrolled at Brooklyn Law School in 1966. As a law student, he held internships with the New York County District Attorney under legendary crime-fighter Frank Hogan and Harlem Assertion of Rights (a community-based provider of legal services) before receiving his J.D. near the top of his class in 1969. He then held a Reginald Heber Smith Fellowship in poverty law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School in the summer of 1969 before being admitted to the New York State Bar later that year.[12]

After working with such organizations as the lower Manhattan-based Community Action for Legal Services and the National Lawyers Guild, Rivera became a frequent attorney for the Puerto Rican activist group, the Young Lords, eventually precipitating his entry into private practice.[13][14] This work attracted the attention of WABC-TV news director Al Primo when Rivera was interviewed about the group's occupation of an East Harlem church in 1969. Primo offered Rivera a job as a reporter but was unhappy with the first name "Gerald" (he wanted something more identifiably Latino) so they agreed to go with the pronunciation used by the Puerto Rican side of Rivera's family: Geraldo.[2] Due to his dearth of journalistic experience, ABC arranged for Rivera to study introductory broadcast journalism under Fred Friendly in the Ford Foundation-funded Summer Program in Journalism for Members of Minority Groups at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1970.[13][16]


Early stages

Rivera in the mid-1970s

Rivera in the mid-1970s

Rivera was hired by WABC-TV in 1970 as a reporter for Eyewitness News. In 1972, he garnered national attention and won a Peabody Award[17][18] for his report on the neglect and abuse of patients with intellectual disabilities at Staten Island's Willowbrook State School, and he began to appear on ABC national programs such as 20/20 and Nightline upon their launches in 1978 and 1979 respectively. After John Lennon watched Rivera's report on the patients at Willowbrook, he and Rivera put on a benefit concert called "One to One" on August 30, 1972, at Madison Square Garden in New York City (which Yoko Ono released posthumously in 1986, as Live in New York City

Around this time, Rivera also began hosting (and executive producing) ABC's Good Night America, a late night newsmagazine which aired as part of the ABC's Wide World of Entertainment program block. The show featured the famous refrain from Arlo Guthrie's hit "City of New Orleans" (written by Steve Goodman) as the theme. Good Night America tackled controversial topics of the era, including marijuana usage and the status of Vietnam War draft dodgers. A 1975 episode of the program, featuring Dick Gregory and Robert J. Groden, showed the first national telecast of the historic Zapruder film.[19]

On May 19, 1983, Rivera broadcast the first U.S. network television mention of AIDS, interviewing on 20/20 New York City lighting designer Ken Ramsauer. Ramsauer died aged 27, four days later;[20] Rivera delivered a eulogy at Ramsauer's Central Park memorial service.[21]

In October 1985, ABC's Roone Arledge refused to air a report done by Sylvia Chase for 20/20 on the relationship between Marilyn Monroe and John and Robert Kennedy.[22][23] Rivera publicly criticized Arledge's journalistic integrity, claiming that his friendship with the Kennedy family (for example, Pierre Salinger, a former Kennedy aide, worked for ABC News at the time) had caused him to spike the story; as a result, Rivera was fired. During a Fox News interview with Megyn Kelly aired May 15, 2015, Rivera stated the official reason given for the firing was that he violated ABC policy when he donated $200 to a non-partisan mayoral race candidate.

On April 21, 1986, Rivera hosted The Mystery of Al Capone's Vaults. The special broadcast was billed as the unearthing of Capone's secret vaults located under the old Lexington Hotel in Chicago. Millions of people watched the 2-hour show, but all that they uncovered was dirt. In a 2016 interview with the Chicago Tribune, Rivera commented, "It was an amazingly high profile program — maybe the highest profile program I've ever been associated with." [24]

Talk shows, specials, and guest appearances

In 1987, Rivera began producing and hosting the daytime talk show Geraldo, which ran for 11 years. The show featured controversial guests and theatricality, which led to the characterization of his show as "Trash TV" by Newsweek and two United States senators.[25] One early show was titled "Men in Lace Panties and the Women Who Love Them". In 1988, he did a show about Satanism on October 24 that included footage of Satanic-themed murderers Charles Manson, who he also interviewed on the show, arrest footages of Son of Sam David Berkowitz and Night Prowler Richard Ramirez, as well as interviews with parents of alleged victims in the McMartin preschool trial, interviews with heavy metal's Ozzy Osbourne and King Diamond and some heavy metal concert goers and death row interview with murderer Sean Sellers and the mother of one of Carl Junction, Missouri's 1987 cult killers. In another special in 1988, Rivera's nose was broken in a well-publicized brawl during a show whose guests included white supremacists, antiracist skinheads, black activist Roy Innis, and militant Jewish activists.[26]

From 1994 to 2001, Rivera hosted Rivera Live, a CNBC evening news and interview show which aired on weeknights.[27]

Fox News to present

Rivera after delivering the keynote at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's 2008 Public Policy Conference

Rivera after delivering the keynote at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's 2008 Public Policy Conference

Rivera left CNBC in November 2001 — two months after the September 11 terrorist attacks — to become a Fox News war correspondent. Rivera's brother Craig accompanied him as a cameraman on assignments in Afghanistan.

In 2001, during the War in Afghanistan, Rivera was derided for a report in which he claimed to be at the scene of a friendly fire incident; it was later revealed he was actually 300 miles away. Rivera blamed a minor misunderstanding for the discrepancy.[28]

Controversy arose in early 2003, while Rivera was traveling with the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq. During a Fox News broadcast, Rivera began to disclose an upcoming operation, even going so far as to draw a map in the sand for his audience. The military immediately issued a firm denunciation of his actions, saying it put the operation at risk; Rivera was expelled from Iraq.[29][30] Two days later, he announced that he would be reporting on the Iraq conflict from Kuwait.[31]

In 2005, Rivera engaged in a feud with The New York Times over their allegations that he pushed aside a member of a rescue team in order to be filmed "assisting" a woman in a wheelchair down some steps in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In the ensuing controversy, Rivera appeared on television and demanded a retraction from the Times. He further threatened to sue the paper if one was not provided.[32]

In 2007, Geraldo was involved in a dispute with fellow Fox colleague Michelle Malkin. Malkin announced that she would not return to The O'Reilly Factor, claiming that Fox News had mishandled a dispute over derogatory statements Rivera had made about her in a Boston Globe interview. Rivera, while objecting to her views on immigration, said, "Michelle Malkin is the most vile, hateful commentator I've ever met in my life. She actually believes that neighbors should start snitching out neighbors, and we should be deporting people." He added, "It's good she's in D.C., and I'm in New York. I'd spit on her if I saw her." Rivera later apologized for his comments.[33][34]

In 2008, Rivera's book, titled HisPanic: Why Americans Fear Hispanics in the U.S., was released.[35]

On January 3, 2012, Rivera began hosting a weekday radio talk show on WABC (770 AM) in New York, N.Y.[36] The show was scheduled in the two hours between Imus in the Morning and The Rush Limbaugh Show on WABC. On January 30, 2012, Rivera also began hosting a weekday show on KABC (790 AM) in Los Angeles.[37]

On March 23, 2012, Rivera made comments regarding Trayvon Martin's hoodie and how the hoodie was connected to Martin's shooting death, specifically claiming that Martin wouldn't have been shot if he wasn't wearing the hoodie, repeating them on subsequent occasions.[38] Rivera apologized for any offense that he caused with the comments. His son Gabriel said that he was "ashamed".[39] Some have reportedly taken the apology as disingenuous;[40] among those who did not accept it was Rivera's longtime friend Russell Simmons.[41] He later apologized to Trayvon Martin's parents as well.[42]

In 2015, Rivera competed on the 14th season of the television series The Celebrity Apprentice, where he ultimately placed second to TV personality Leeza Gibbons. However, Rivera still raised the highest amount of money out of any contestant in the season, with $726,000, $12,000 more than Gibbons.

Rivera hosts the newsmagazine program Geraldo at Large and appears regularly on Fox News Channel. On November 13, 2015, Rivera revealed on Fox News that his daughter, Simone Cruickshank, was at the Stade de France when the attacks and explosions occurred; she and her friends made it out alive and would be returning safely home.[43]

He continued to host a weekday talk radio show on WABC (770 AM) until a leadership change at parent company Cumulus Media resulted in his contract not being renewed in November 2015; Geraldo would later sue Cumulus for what he claimed was the reneging of a "handshake agreement" between him, previous chairman Lew Dickey and executive vice president John Dickey.[44]

Rivera competed on season 22 of Dancing with the Stars, partnered with professional dancer Edyta Śliwińska.[45] On March 28, 2016, Rivera and Śliwińska were the first couple to be eliminated from the competition.[46] On November 29, 2017, Rivera defended Matt Lauer, who had been fired by NBC after inappropriate sexual behavior was alleged, by saying, "News is a flirty business."[47] He later apologized after receiving heavy criticism.[48] Part of the controversy stemmed from his 1991 book "Exposing Myself", which bragged about his active social life in the 1960s and 1970s.[49] He (along with one of his producers) was also accused by Bette Midler in 1991 during an interview with Barbara Walters of drugging and groping her. The allegation resurfaced during the #MeToo movement. He issued a statement in November 2017 that both denied and apologized for the incident.[50]

On September 22, 2018, Geraldo and WTAM (1100 AM) in Cleveland, Ohio announced that he would join the station to host a daily one-hour talk show, Geraldo in Cleveland, in addition to a weekly podcast on the parent iHeartRadio app, effective September 24.[51]

Personal life

Rivera has been married five times:

  1. Linda Coblentz (1965–1969, divorced)

  2. Edith Vonnegut (December 14, 1971 – 1975, divorced)

  3. Sherryl Raymond (December 31, 1976 – 1984, divorced)son: Gabriel Miguel (born July 1979)[52][53]

  4. C.C. (Cynthia Cruickshank) Dyer (July 11, 1987 – 2000, divorced)children: daughter Isabella Holmes (born 1992)[54] daughter Simone Cruickshank (born 1994).

  5. Six attempts at having children through IVF ended in miscarriage[6]

  6. Erica Michelle Levy (since August 2003)daughter: Sol Liliana (born 2005)[56]

Rivera has admitted to having a multi-year affair until 1985 with Marian Javits, wife of New York Senator Jacob K. Javits.[57]

Rivera is a resident of Shaker Heights, Ohio.[58] He previously resided in Middletown Township, New Jersey, at Rough Point, an 1895 shingle-style estate.[59]

Rivera is an active sailor.

As owner and skipper of the sailing vessel Voyager, he participated in the Marion–Bermuda Cruising Yacht Race in 1985, 2005, 2011, and 2013. In 2013, his vessel finished in 12th place out of 34 finishers.[60] He also sailed Voyager 1,400 miles up the Amazon river and around the world, going so far as to meet the King of Tonga on the international dateline in time for the new millennium. The adventures were chronicled in six one-hour-long specials on The Travel Channel,[61] and some of this footage remains available on his website.[62]


Rivera is a Republican,[63] and considered running as a Republican in the United States Senate special election in New Jersey, 2013 (to fill the Senate seat left vacant by the death of Frank Lautenberg).[64] He eventually decided not to stand for election.

A friend of Donald Trump's, Rivera has nevertheless confirmed that he did not vote for the Republican candidate in the 2016 election because of "spousal influence".[65] He had also previously said he would not vote for Trump because of comments made by the latter regarding Mexicans and other immigrant groups.[66] However, he has subsequently called Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into the Trump-Russia connection a "witch hunt".


  • Rivera, Geraldo (1972).

  • Willowbrook: A report on how it is and why it doesn't have to be that way [67]. New York: Vintage Books. ISBN 0-394-71844-5.

  • Rivera, Geraldo (1973).

  • Miguel Robles—So Far. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. ISBN 0-15-253900-X.

  • Rivera, Geraldo (1973).

  • Puerto Rico: Island of Contrasts, pictures by William Negron. Parents Magazine Press. ISBN 0-8193-0683-5.

  • Rivera, Geraldo (1977).

  • A Special Kind of Courage: Profiles of young Americans. New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-10501-9.

  • Rivera, Geraldo (1992).

  • Exposing Myself. London: Bantam. ISBN 0-553-29874-7.

  • Rivera, Geraldo (2008).

  • HisPanic: Why Americans fear Hispanics in the U. S. New York: Celebra. ISBN 0-451-22414-0.

  • Rivera, Geraldo (2009).

  • The Great Progression: How Hispanics Will Lead America to a New Era of Prosperity. New York: New American Library. ISBN 0-451-22881-2.

  • Rivera, Geraldo (2018).

  • The Geraldo Show, A Memoir. Texas: Benbella Books. ISBN 9781944648909.

See also

  • List of Puerto Ricans


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Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgSee also List of Peabody Award winners (1970–79)#1972
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Citation Linkwww.smithsonianmag.comRon Rosenbaum (September 2013). "What Does the Zapruder Film Really Tell Us?". Smithsonian. Retrieved September 27, 2013.
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Citation Linkbooks.google.comDavid France (December 1, 2016). How to Survive a Plague: The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed AIDS. Pan Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-5098-3941-4.
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Citation Linkwww.nytimes.comLindsey Gruson (June 14, 1983). "1,500 attend Central Park memorial service for AIDS victim". The New York Times. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
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Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgRothenberg, Fred. "RIVERA QUITTING ABC, CITES NETWORK FRICTION." Wichita Eagle, The (KS), CITY EDITION ed., sec. LIFESTYLE, 23 Oct. 1985, p. 10C. NewsBank: Access World News, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=AWNB&docref=news/0EADB2B3F1578B86. Accessed 31 July 2019.
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