Geraldo Rivera

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For the talk show, see Geraldo (TV series).
Geraldo Rivera
Rivera at a Hudson Union Society event, September 23, 2010
Born Gerald Michael Riviera
(1943-07-04) July 4, 1943 (age 71)
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
Alma mater University of Arizona
Brooklyn Law School
Occupation Journalist, talk show host, writer, attorney
Years active 1970–present
Organization Fox News Channel
Television Geraldo
Geraldo at Large
Political party
Religion Reform Judaism[1]
Spouse(s) Linda Coblentz (m. 1965–69)
Edith Vonnegut (m. 1971–75)
Sherryl Raymond (m. 1976–84)
C.C. Dyer (m. 1987–2000)
Erica Michelle Levy (m. 2003)
Children 5
Family Craig Rivera (brother)
Awards Peabody Award (1972)

Gerald Michael Riviera (born July 4, 1943),[2] better known as Geraldo Rivera (/ˌhɜrˈɔːld ˌrɪˈvɛrə/),[3] is an American attorney, journalist, author, reporter, and talk show host. Rivera hosts the newsmagazine program Geraldo at Large and appears regularly on Fox News Channel. He is also well known from his history as a reporter and TV personality, and as the host of the talk show Geraldo from 1987 to 1998.

Early life[edit]

Rivera was born at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, New York, the son of Lillian (née Friedman), a waitress, and Cruz "Allen" Rivera (October 1, 1915 – November 1987), a restaurant worker and cab driver.[4][5] Rivera's father was a Catholic Puerto Rican,[6] and his mother is of Ashkenazi Russian Jewish descent. He was raised "mostly Jewish" and had a Bar Mitzvah.[7][8] He grew up in Brooklyn and West Babylon, New York where he attended West Babylon High School. He has five siblings: Wilfredo, Sharon, Irene, Abnor, and Craig.

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.[9][10] In 1965 Rivera graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, and he played goalie on the lacrosse team. He received his J.D. from Brooklyn Law School in 1969 and later did postgraduate work at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.[11][12] He is a member of Tau Delta Phi fraternity.[citation needed]

After a brief career in law enforcement, wherein he served the New York City Police Department as an investigator, Rivera returned to law and became a lawyer[13] for the National Lawyers Guild.[14] He became a frequent attorney for the Puerto Rican activist group, the Young Lords,[14] which 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.[15]


Early stages[edit]

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[16][17] 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. After John Lennon watched Rivera's report on the patients at Willowbrook, he and Rivera put on a benefit concert called "One to One" (released in 1986 as Live in New York City). Rivera reported Lennon's murder on Nightline on December 8, 1980. Rivera also appeared in The U.S. vs. John Lennon (2007), a movie about Lennon and Yoko Ono's lives in New York City.[citation needed]

Rivera in the mid 1970s

Around this time, Rivera also began hosting ABC's Good Night America. The show featured the famous refrain from Arlo Guthrie's hit "City Of New Orleans" (written by Steve Goodman) as the theme. A 1975 episode of the program, featuring Dick Gregory and Robert J. Groden, showed the first national telecast of the historic Zapruder Film.[18]

From 1975 to 1977, Rivera was a correspondent for ABC's Good Morning America. He gave special reports for the show.[citation needed]

After Elvis Presley died in 1977, various media mistakenly reported that he had died from a heart attack. Rivera then investigated Presley's prescription drug records and concluded that he had died from multiple drug intake. His conclusion caused Tennessee medical authorities to later revoke the medical license of Dr. George C. Nichopoulos for overprescribing.[citation needed]

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. Rivera publicly criticized Arledge's journalistic integrity, claiming that Arledge's 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. Sylvia Chase quit 20/20, although she returned to ABC News many years later. The report has never aired.[citation needed]

In April 1986, Rivera hosted the syndicated special The Mystery of Al Capone's Vault, an ill-fated adventure wherein Rivera excavated what he had been told was the site of Al Capone's buried treasure trove. Rivera broadcast live as the site was excavated, fully expecting to find a store of the former gangster's wealth. The show was heavily advertised, particularly on Chicago's WGN television station. A medical examiner was brought along for the excavation in case any dead bodies were excavated. The show was on air for several hours, displacing regularly scheduled programming, as Rivera's team penetrated the vault he was sure would yield the famed loot. Ultimately, the vault was found to contain a few broken bottles. Rivera held one of these bottles aloft for the camera and excitedly stated that it had once contained "bootleg moonshine gin".[citation needed]

Talk shows, specials and guest appearances[edit]

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.[19] One early show was titled "Men in Lace Panties and the Women Who Love Them". In another in 1988, Rivera's nose was broken in a well-publicized brawl during a show whose guests included white supremacists, antiracist skinheads, black activists, and Jewish activists.[20] Regular guests on his show included LaToya Jackson, talking about the latest goings on and scandal updates in her family.

In 1988, Rivera hosted the first of a series of prime-time special reports dealing with an alleged epidemic of Satanic ritual abuse. He stated: "Estimates are that there are over 1 million Satanists in this country.... The majority of them are linked in a highly organized, very secretive network. From small towns to large cities, they have attracted police and FBI attention to their Satanic sexual child abuse, child pornography, and grisly Satanic murders. "[citation needed]

Critics counter that more credible estimates are about 10,000 adult members of religious Satanic churches, temples, and grottos as well as 10,000 solitary practitioners of Satanism; Rivera's claims of ritualistic abuse, conspiracy, and criminal activity remain unsubstantiated.[21]

In 1994, Rivera began hosting Rivera Live, nightly discussions of the news on CNBC, while continuing to host Geraldo. The show was portrayed in the final episode of Seinfeld, with Rivera as himself reporting on the lengthy trial of Seinfeld's four main characters. On May 20, 1994, Rivera appeared on The Price Is Right.[citation needed]

Later, he would take his talk show in a different direction, transforming it from "Trash TV" to a more subdued, serious show, and changed its name from Geraldo to The Geraldo Rivera Show (first airdate September 7, 1997). By this time, however, the show had run its course; was canceled in 1998.[citation needed]

In 1997, Rivera contracted with NBC to work as a reporter for six years for $30 million, including hosting Rivera Live on CNBC. During 1998 and 1999, he extensively covered the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.[citation needed]

Fox News to present[edit]

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

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, he accepted a pay cut and went to work for the Fox News Channel as a war correspondent in November 2001. 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.[22]

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 nearly expelled from Iraq.[23][24] Two days later, he announced that he would be reporting on the Iraq conflict from Kuwait.[25]

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. The ensuing controversy caused Rivera to appear on television and demand a retraction from the Times. He further threatened to sue the paper if one were not provided.[26]

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.[27][28]

In 2008, Rivera's book, titled HisPanic: Why Americans Fear Hispanics in the U.S., was released.[29]

On January 3, 2012, Rivera began hosting a weekday radio talk show on WABC (AM) in New York.[30] On January 30, 2012, Rivera also began hosting a weekday radio talk show on KABC (AM) in Los Angeles.[31] He fills the 10 AM to noon (PST) time slot between the syndicated Imus in the Morning and Rush Limbaugh programs.[citation needed]

On March 23, 2012, Rivera made controversial comments regarding Trayvon Martin's hoodie and how the hoodie was connected to Martin's shooting death, and as of November 5, 2014, he continues to do so as he did on the Dan LeBatard Radio Show on ESPN.[32] Rivera apologized for any offense that he caused with the comments, of which even Rivera's son Gabriel was "ashamed".[33] Some, have reportedly taken the apology as disingenuous;[34] among those who did not accept it was Rivera's longtime friend Russell Simmons.[35] He later apologized to Trayvon Martin's parents as well.[36]

Rivera planned to visit Iraq in April 2012, for what he promised his wife would be his last (and eleventh) visit.[37]

Although he considered running as a Republican in the 2013 special election for New Jersey senator (to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Frank Lautenberg), he eventually decided not to stand for election.[38]

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 (just $12,000 more than Gibbons).

Personal life[edit]

Rivera has been married five times and has fathered five children:

  1. Linda Coblentz (1965–69, divorced)
  2. Edith Vonnegut (December 14, 1971–75, divorced)
  3. Sherryl Raymond (December 31, 1976–84, divorced)
    son: Gabriel Miguel (born July 1979)[39][40]
  4. C.C. (Cynthia Cruickshank) Dyer (July 11, 1987 – 2000, divorced)
    daughters: Isabella Holmes (born 1992)[41] and Simone Cruickshank (born 1994)
  5. Erica Michelle Levy (since August 2003)
    daughter: Sol Liliana (born 2005)[42][43]

He also fathered Cruz Grant (born 1987) with an unnamed, Mexican American[44] woman.

Rivera has been a resident of Edgewater, New Jersey.[45] He had previously resided in Middletown Township, New Jersey at Rough Point, an 1895 shingle-style estate.[46]

Rivera is an active sailor. He is owner and skipper of the boat Voyager and sailed in the Marion–Bermuda race (June 2011). His vessel finished in 12th place out of 13 finishers in the Class "A" category.[47]

On July 21, 2013, at 1 AM, Geraldo Rivera tweeted a picture of himself clad only in a towel, exclaiming that "70 is the new 50".[48][49] He has since removed the tweet and the picture,[50] however, the photo can still be found on the internet for those who wish to see it.


  • Rivera, Geraldo (1972). Willowbrook. 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 (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. 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Geraldo Rivera: ‘The Jews Need Me Right Now’. (May 23, 2003). Retrieved on December 17, 2011.
  2. ^ "Geraldo Rivera Biography". Retrieved July 21, 2013. 
  3. ^ Urban Legends Reference Pages: Geraldo Rivera. Retrieved on December 17, 2011.
  4. ^ "Excerpt: "His Panic" – ABC News". February 26, 2008. Retrieved September 29, 2010. 
  5. ^ Geraldo Rivera Biography (1943–). Retrieved on December 17, 2011.
  6. ^ "Excerpt: "His Panic"". ABC News. February 26, 2008. Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  7. ^ Biography for Geraldo Rivera
  8. ^ Do the Jews Need Geraldo. Retrieved on December 17, 2011.
  9. ^ – Sailing Book (continues). Retrieved on December 17, 2011.
  10. ^ Fort Schuyler Maritime Alumni Association. (September 24, 1998) Retrieved on December 17, 2011.
  11. ^ Rivera, Geraldo. Retrieved on December 17, 2011.
  12. ^ Geraldo Rivera
  13. ^ Geraldo Rivera. Retrieved on September 05, 2014.
  14. ^ a b Bloom, Joshua; Martin, Waldo (January 2013). Black against Empire. University of California Press. p. 295. ISBN 9780520271852. 
  15. ^ "Urban Legend about Geraldo Rivera's name being changed from Jerry Rivers". Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  16. ^ Powers, Ron (1977). The Newscasters: The News Business as Show Business. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 185. ISBN 0312572085. 
  17. ^ See also List of Peabody Award winners (1970–1979)#1972
  18. ^ Ron Rosenbaum (September 2013). "What Does the Zapruder Film Really Tell Us?". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved September 27, 2013. 
  19. ^ "TWO DEMOCRATIC SENATORS JOIN BENNETT'S CRUSADE AGAINST `TRASH TV'" (newspaper). Chicago Tribune. Associated Press. December 8, 1995. p. 26. Retrieved March 2, 2009. Two Democratic senators are joining Friday with William Bennett... to criticize advertisers who support what critics call 'trash TV' talk shows.... In television and radio ads to begin airing Friday, Bennett and Sens. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) urge companies to withdraw advertising dollars from... [shows including] 'Geraldo,' 
  20. ^ "Geraldo Rivera's Nose Broken In Scuffle on His Talk Show". New York Times. November 4, 1988. Retrieved January 17, 2013. 
  21. ^ Geraldo Rivera'S Influence On The Satanic Ritual Abuse And Recovered Memory Hoaxes. Retrieved on December 17, 2011.
  22. ^ "Gun-toting Geraldo under fire for the story that never was",, December 20, 2001
  23. ^ "Confusion surrounds Rivera's expulsion from Iraq", CNN, April 1, 2003
  24. ^ Carr, David (April 1, 2003). "A NATION AT WAR: COVERAGE; Pentagon Says Geraldo Rivera Will Be Removed From Iraq". The New York Times. Retrieved May 3, 2010. 
  25. ^ Associated Press, "Geraldo Rivera Apologizes for breaking reporting rules in Iraq", April 6, 2003,
  26. ^ "Geraldo Rivera might sue The New York Times". TV Squad. September 7, 2005. Retrieved December 17, 2011. 
  27. ^ Shanahan, Mark. "Making waves: controversial celebrity newsman Geraldo Rivera", The Boston Globe, September 1, 2007.
  28. ^ Malkin, Michelle. "Geraldo Rivera unhinged",, September 1, 2007.
  29. ^ Rivera, Geraldo. "Rivera Takes on Anti-Immigrant Fervor in 'His Panic'". NPR. Retrieved September 29, 2010. 
  30. ^ Brian Stelter (December 11, 2011). "Geraldo Rivera Gets Talk Deal on WABC Radio". The New York Times. 
  31. ^ Steve Carney (January 20, 2012). "Geraldo Rivera to debut radio talk show on KABC-AM". Los Angeles Times. 
  32. ^ Fox News Segment of Geraldo Rivera's Comments Regarding Trayvon Martin's Death on YouTube
  33. ^ Lee, MJ (March 23, 2012). "Geraldo Rivera: My own son ashamed of me". Politico. Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  34. ^ Wemple, Erik (March 27, 2012). "Geraldo undoes apology!". The Washington Post. 
  35. ^ Simmons, Russell (March 27, 2012). "Geraldo, Your Apology Is Bullsh*t!". Global Grind. 
  36. ^ Geraldo Rivera's Apology on YouTube
  37. ^ Tweet by @GeraldoRivera
  38. ^ Stetler, Brian (February 4, 2013). "Fox News Monitors Geraldo as He Mulls Political Office". The NY Times. 
  39. ^ McDougal, Dennis (March 5, 1989). "There's a New Geraldo...Sort of : Rivera' still a TV outlaw, but he's moving into new corporate, personal and professional worlds". Los Angeles Times. 
  40. ^ Froelich, Janis D.. (July 15, 1991) Geraldo . . . Er, Make That Gerald Rivera's Moms Tell All!. Deseret News. Retrieved on December 17, 2011.
  41. ^ Geraldo, wife overcome fertility foes, have baby. Herald-Journal. November 9, 1992
  42. ^ 50 Highs and Lows from 40 Years in the News Business. (September 5, 2010). Retrieved on December 17, 2011.
  43. ^ Media Life – People. (August 4, 2005). Retrieved on December 17, 2011.
  44. ^ Geraldo talks Trayvon Martin hoodie, Muslim monitoring and stop and frisk in NYC on YouTube
  45. ^ via Associated Press. "Geraldo Rivera sues over housing dispute", USA Today, September 13, 2004. Accessed March 17, 2011. "The Fox News senior correspondent owns two homes in the 26-acre Edgewater Colony, where residents own their homes but share ownership of the land.... 'I intend living here always, hopefully in peace and loving my neighbors.'"
  46. ^ Cheslow, Jerry. "If You're Thinking of Living In: Middletown Township, N.J.;A Historic Community on Raritan Bay", The New York Times, December 24, 1995. Accessed May 10, 2007. "The most expensive area is along the Shrewsbury River, where an eight-bedroom colonial on five acres is listed at $5.9 million. Among the residents of that area are Geraldo Rivera, the television personality, and members of the Hovnanian home-building family."
  47. ^ [1]
  48. ^ Ewww... Geraldo Rivera goes all-Anthony-Weiner on Twitter
  49. ^ Geraldo Rivera Tweets Shirtless Selfie
  50. ^ Internet Stunned: Geraldo Rivera Tweets Semi-Nude Photo of Himself

External links[edit]