Geraldo Rivera

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For the talk show, see Geraldo (TV series).
Geraldo Rivera
Rivera at The Source Awards, September 23, 2010
Born Gerald Michael Rivera
(1943-07-04) July 4, 1943 (age 72)
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
The Five
Political party Republican
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)

Gerald Michael Rivera (born July 4, 1943),[2] better known as Geraldo Rivera (/ˌhɜːrˈɔːld ˌrɪˈvɛrə/),[3] is an American attorney, reporter, author, and talk show host. 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 Channel programs such as The Five.

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 ceremony.[7][8] 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 took to spelling their surname as "Riviera" because they thought it sounded "less ethnic".[9]

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 with a B.S. degree in business administration, and he played goalie on the lacrosse team. After a brief career in law enforcement, wherein he served the New York City Police Department as an investigator, Rivera entered law school. He received his J.D. from Brooklyn Law School in 1969 near the top of his class; following graduation, he 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.[15] 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[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[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. 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.[19]

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 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 Megan 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.[vague] However, he firmly believes it was due to his criticism of Arledge. 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.[20] 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.[21] Regular guests on his show included La Toya Jackson, who discussed 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.[22]

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.[23]

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.[24][25] Two days later, he announced that he would be reporting on the Iraq conflict from Kuwait.[26]

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.[27]

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.[28][29]

In 2008, Rivera's book, titled HisPanic: Why Americans Fear Hispanics in the U.S., was released.[30]

On January 3, 2012, Rivera began hosting a weekday radio talk show on 77 WABC in New York, N.Y.[31] 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 Talk Radio 790 KABC in Los Angeles.[32]

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.[33] Rivera apologized for any offense that he caused with the comments, of which even Rivera's son Gabriel was "ashamed".[34] Some, have reportedly taken the apology as disingenuous;[35] among those who did not accept it was Rivera's longtime friend Russell Simmons.[36] He later apologized to Trayvon Martin's parents as well.[37]

Rivera planned to visit Iraq in April 2012, for what he promised his wife would be his last (and eleventh) visit.[38]

Although he 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), he eventually decided not to stand for election.[39]


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).

Rivera hosts the newsmagazine program Geraldo at Large and appears regularly on Fox News Channel. He hosts the talk radio show Geraldo Show on WABC 770 AM radio every weekday. 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; fortunately, she and her friends made it out alive and would be returning safely home.[40]

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)[41][42]
  4. C.C. (Cynthia Cruickshank) Dyer (July 11, 1987 – 2000, divorced)
    daughters: Isabella Holmes (born 1992)[43] and Simone Cruickshank (born 1994)
  5. Erica Michelle Levy (since August 2003)
    daughter: Sol Liliana (born 2005)[44][45]

He also fathered Cruz Grant (born 1987) with an unnamed Mexican-American[46] woman.

Rivera is a resident of Edgewater, New Jersey.[47] He previously resided in Middletown Township, New Jersey at Rough Point, an 1895 shingle-style estate.[48]

Rivera is an active sailor. As owner and skipper of the sailing vessel 'Voyager', he has participated in Marion-Bermuda races in 1985, 2005, 2011, and most recently, 2013. In 2013, his vessel finished in 10th place out of 12 finishers in the Class "A" category.[49]

Geraldo also sailed S/V '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 eight hour long specials on The Travel Channel,[50] and some of this footage remains available on Geraldo's website.[51]

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".[52][53] He has since removed the tweet and the picture.[54]

On November 30, 2015, it was reported that executives at New York, N.Y.'s WABC had locked Rivera out of his station offices. His career in radio is uncertain at this point.[citation needed]


  • 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 (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. 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Geraldo Rivera: ‘The Jews Need Me Right Now’ –". 2003-05-23. Retrieved 2015-06-12. 
  2. ^ "Geraldo Rivera Biography". Retrieved July 21, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Geraldo Rivera Was Born 'Jerry Rivers'?". Retrieved 2015-06-12. 
  4. ^ "Excerpt: "His Panic" – ABC News". February 26, 2008. Retrieved September 29, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Geraldo Rivera Biography (1943-)". Retrieved 2015-06-12. 
  6. ^ "Excerpt: "His Panic"". ABC News. February 26, 2008. Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Biography for Geraldo Rivera". Retrieved 2015-06-12. 
  8. ^ Miller, Gerri. "InterfaithFamily". Retrieved 2015-06-12. 
  9. ^ Wood, Jamie Martinez (2007). Latino Writers and Journalists. New York, NY: Facts on File, Inc. p. 195. ISBN 978-0-8160-6422-9. 
  10. ^ – Sailing Book (continues). Retrieved on December 17, 2011.
  11. ^ Fort Schuyler Maritime Alumni Association. (September 24, 1998) Retrieved on December 17, 2011.
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b "Notable Caribbeans and Caribbean Americans". Retrieved September 9, 2015. 
  14. ^ 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. ^ "Pulitzer's School". Retrieved September 9, 2015. 
  17. ^ Powers, Ron (1977). The Newscasters: The News Business as Show Business. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 185. ISBN 0312572085. 
  18. ^ See also List of Peabody Award winners (1970–1979)#1972
  19. ^ Ron Rosenbaum (September 2013). "What Does the Zapruder Film Really Tell Us?". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved September 27, 2013. 
  20. ^ "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,' 
  21. ^ "Geraldo Rivera's Nose Broken In Scuffle on His Talk Show". New York Times. November 4, 1988. Retrieved January 17, 2013. 
  22. ^ Geraldo Rivera'S Influence On The Satanic Ritual Abuse And Recovered Memory Hoaxes. Retrieved on December 17, 2011.
  23. ^ "Gun-toting Geraldo under fire for the story that never was", The Daily Telegraph, December 20, 2001
  24. ^ Plante, Chris (March 31, 2003). "Military kicks Geraldo out of Iraq". CNN. Retrieved November 17, 2015. 
  25. ^ 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. 
  26. ^ "Geraldo Rivera apologizes for breaking reporting rules in Iraq". Retrieved 2015-06-12. 
  27. ^ "Geraldo Rivera might sue The New York Times". TV Squad. September 7, 2005. Retrieved December 17, 2011. 
  28. ^ Shanahan, Mark. "Making waves: controversial celebrity newsman Geraldo Rivera", The Boston Globe, September 1, 2007.
  29. ^ Malkin, Michelle. "Geraldo Rivera unhinged",, September 1, 2007.
  30. ^ Rivera, Geraldo. "Rivera Takes on Anti-Immigrant Fervor in 'His Panic'". NPR. Retrieved September 29, 2010. 
  31. ^ Brian Stelter (December 11, 2011). "Geraldo Rivera Gets Talk Deal on WABC Radio". The New York Times. 
  32. ^ Steve Carney (January 20, 2012). "Geraldo Rivera to debut radio talk show on KABC-AM". Los Angeles Times. 
  33. ^ Fox News Segment of Geraldo Rivera's Comments Regarding Trayvon Martin's Death on YouTube
  34. ^ Lee, MJ (March 23, 2012). "Geraldo Rivera: My own son ashamed of me". Politico. Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  35. ^ Wemple, Erik (March 27, 2012). "Geraldo undoes apology!". The Washington Post. 
  36. ^ Simmons, Russell (March 27, 2012). "Geraldo, Your Apology Is Bullsh*t!". Global Grind. 
  37. ^ Geraldo Rivera's Apology on YouTube
  38. ^ "Twitter". Retrieved June 12, 2015. 
  39. ^ Stetler, Brian (February 4, 2013). "Fox News Monitors Geraldo as He Mulls Political Office". The NY Times. 
  40. ^ Adams, T. Becket (November 13, 2015). "Geraldo Rivera's daughter in Paris during terror attack". Washington Examiner. Retrieved November 14, 2015. 
  41. ^ 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. 
  42. ^ Froelich, Janis D.. (July 15, 1991) Geraldo . . . Er, Make That Gerald Rivera's Moms Tell All!. Deseret News. Retrieved on December 17, 2011.
  43. ^ Geraldo, wife overcome fertility foes, have baby. Herald-Journal. November 9, 1992
  44. ^ 50 Highs and Lows from 40 Years in the News Business. (September 5, 2010). Retrieved on December 17, 2011.
  45. ^ Media Life – People. (August 4, 2005). Retrieved on December 17, 2011.
  46. ^ Geraldo talks Trayvon Martin hoodie, Muslim monitoring and stop and frisk in NYC on YouTube
  47. ^ 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.'"
  48. ^ 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."
  49. ^ "Race Archives". 
  50. ^ "IMDB Sail To The Century". 
  51. ^ "Geraldo Rivera: Sail To The Century". 
  52. ^ "Ewww... Geraldo Rivera goes all-Anthony-Weiner on Twitter". Retrieved June 12, 2015. 
  53. ^ "Geraldo Rivera Tweets Shirtless Selfie". The Huffington Post. Retrieved June 12, 2015. 
  54. ^ Madeleine Morgenstern. "Internet Stunned: Geraldo Rivera Tweets Semi-Nude Photo of Himself — Warning: You Will Not Be Able to Unsee This (UPDATE: Rivera Deletes Tweet, Writes ‘Note to Self’)". The Blaze. Retrieved June 12, 2015. 

External links[edit]