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Mo Rocca

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Mo Rocca
Rocca in 2002
Birth nameMaurice Alberto Rocca
Born (1969-01-28) January 28, 1969 (age 55)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
EducationHarvard University (BA)
Years active1995–present
GenresHumor, News
Notable works and rolesThe Daily Show
The Tonight Show
Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!
CBS Sunday Morning
The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation

Maurice Alberto "Mo" Rocca (born January 28, 1969) is an American humorist, journalist, and actor. He is a correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning, the host and creator of My Grandmother's Ravioli on the Cooking Channel, and also the host of The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation on CBS. He was the moderator of the National Geographic Society's National Geographic Bee from 2016 until its final competition in 2019, as the 2020 and 2021 competitions were cancelled and the competition was ended in 2021. He is also the host of the podcast Mobituaries with Mo Rocca from CBS News. He is a regular panelist on the radio quiz show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!

Mo Rocca got his start in television behind the scenes, writing and producing several children's TV shows. His first work in front of the camera came as a correspondent for news satire show The Daily Show from 1998 to 2003. He played a similar role as a satirical correspondent for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno from 2004 to 2008, and later moved on to more serious (but still light-hearted) roles with CBS News for which he continues to work. He has also acted in theater, film, and on television in small roles from time to time, and has written two books.

Early life and education[edit]

Rocca was born in Washington, D.C. His mother immigrated there from Bogotá, Colombia, in 1956 at age 28, and his father was a third generation Italian-American from Leominster, Massachusetts.[1] He attended Georgetown Preparatory School, a Jesuit boys' school in North Bethesda, Maryland, graduating with the Class of 1987. He graduated from Harvard University in 1991 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in literature.[2] He served as president of Harvard's Hasty Pudding Theatricals, performing in four of the company's notorious burlesques and co-authoring one (Suede Expectations).[3] While at Harvard, he also played Seymour in a production of Little Shop of Horrors which co-starred future Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.[4]


Writing and producing[edit]

Rocca began his career acting on stage in the Southeast Asia tour of the musical Grease (1993) and Paper Mill Playhouse's South Pacific (1994).

His first television work was as a writer and producer for the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning children's television series Wishbone. He also wrote for The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss on the Nickelodeon TV channel and Pepper Ann on the ABC TV network.

In 2011, he won an Emmy as a writer for the 64th Annual Tony Awards.[5]

Satire and journalism[edit]

Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! reception at Octavia Books in Uptown New Orleans (2010)

From 1998 to 2003, Rocca was a regular correspondent for The Daily Show, which gave him his start in television.[6] His work included campaign coverage for Indecision 2000 and a regular feature called "That's Quite Interesting".[7]

In 2004, he served as a convention-floor correspondent for Larry King Live at the Democratic and Republican national conventions.

He was a regular correspondent for The Tonight Show on the NBC TV network from 2004 to 2008, and covered the 2008 election for NBC.

Rocca is a regular correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning with Jane Pauley. His work includes cover stories, features, and profiles (such as of Chris Rock and Amy Schumer) with an emphasis on presidential history.

He is a regular panelist on the quiz show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! on the NPR radio network.

In 2012, Rocca became a regular contributor to the then-new CBS This Morning.

Rocca turned his fascination with obituaries into a podcast called Mobituaries, currently on Season 4.[8]


Rocca's satirical book, All the Presidents' Pets: The Story of One Reporter Who Refused to Roll Over, deals with American presidents, their pets, and reporters and was published by Crown Books in 2004.[9]

Rocca, parlaying from his Mobituaries podcast, authored Mobituaries in 2019, a book about underappreciated people in history such as Elizabeth Jennings Graham.[10][11]

In February 2024, he announced that Roctogenarians, a Mobituaries-style book focusing on people who achieved success late in their lives, would be released in June.[12][13]

Food and other television[edit]

Rocca created and hosted the program My Grandmother's Ravioli with CBS Eye Productions on the Cooking Channel from 2012 to 2015,[14] for which he traveled across the United States, learning to cook from grandmothers and grandfathers in their kitchens.[6]

He previously hosted Food(ography) on the Cooking Channel and was a regular judge on Iron Chef America on the Food Network.

Rocca was a commentator on VH1's I Love the '70s and I Love the '80s. He was the host of Bravo's Things I Hate About You channel and Whoa! Sunday, which premiered in 2005 on the Animal Planet TV channel. He also made guest appearances for the Law & Order television franchise in the episodes "Authority" (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) and "Contract" (Law & Order: Criminal Intent), both in 2008.

He is also the host of the weekly The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation program, which has aired as part of the CBS Dream Team on Saturdays since 2014.[15]

On September 25, 2015, Rocca served as Lector during the Mass celebrated by Pope Francis at New York City's Madison Square Garden.[16]


On Broadway, Rocca played the role of Vice Principal Douglas Panch in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

Film and other media[edit]

Rocca appeared in the 2005 film Bewitched and, in 2007, in the independent science-fiction family comedy I'll Believe You with fellow Daily Show alumnus Ed Helms. In 2012, Rocca was the narrator of the documentary Electoral Dysfunction, a movie which satirically analyzes the American voting system and which aired on PBS in 2012 and 2016.

He shared on social media a scripture reading (in Spanish) that he delivered while serving as Lector during Pope Francis's 2015 Mass at Madison Square Garden.[17]

His contribution to AOL Newsbloggers was titled Mo Rocca 180°: Only Half as Tedious as the Regular News.[18]

In 2014, Rocca appeared on The Young and the Restless as Milton, the accountant. He reprised the role for the 50th anniversary of the show in 2023.

On May 13, 2015, Rocca appeared on a celebrity episode of Jeopardy! and came in second to CNN correspondent John Berman, amassing a total of $41,600. He returned on December 6, 2023, amassing $25,200 during his quarterfinal match.[19] He would eventually make it to the finals, once again coming in second to actress Lisa Ann Walter and winning $250,000.[20] During both times on the show, he played in support of the Inner-City Scholarship Fund, a New York-based charity that helps low-income families enroll their children in Catholic Schools through financial aid.

Rocca began moderating the finals of the National Geographic Bee in 2016. Soledad O'Brien preceded him and Alex Trebek preceded O'Brien. He moderated the bee from 2016 until its final competition in 2019.

Rocca played a conservative morning TV show host in the second season of The Good Fight.

Personal life[edit]

In July 2011, Rocca revealed on The Six Pack podcast (episode 73) that he is gay.[21] His participation in Pope Francis's September 2015 Mass in Madison Square Garden was hailed by gay rights advocates.[22]


  1. ^ Castellanos, Melissa (21 November 2013). "CBS Sunday Morning's Mo Rocca Reconnects to his Colombian Roots". Latin Post. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  2. ^ Rocca, Mo (21 August 2008). "Celebrity College Flashback". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on 6 July 2015.
  3. ^ Klarecki, Carolyn (29 September 2009). "Mo Rocca: from TV-loving tyke to mass-media personality". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved 22 March 2012.
  4. ^ Hill, Joe Martin (December 9, 1988). "Weed Recommend It". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved January 17, 2024.
  5. ^ "Mo Rocca". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  6. ^ a b Als, Hilton (22 October 2012). "Critic's Notebook: Hear This". The New Yorker.
  7. ^ Coyle, Jake (24 August 2009). "After 'Daily Show,' Mo Rocca looks to 'Tomorrow'". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  8. ^ "'Mobituaries': The art of obituary writing". CBS News. 17 January 2020. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  9. ^ Hinds, Julie (15 October 2004). "Mo Rocca Takes Satire To A Presidential Level". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 22 March 2012 – via Detroit Free Press.
  10. ^ Schulman, Michael (12 November 2019). "'Mobituaries,' Mo Rocca's Curious, Offbeat Collection of Lives Forgotten". The New Yorker.
  11. ^ Rocca, Mo (5 November 2019). Mobituaries: Great Lives Worth Reliving. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781501197642.
  12. ^ "Mo Rocca on X: "Apparently age has become a hot topic? Is that right? Well it just so happens I have a new book about people of advanced age achieving greatness, coming out this June. Preorder ROCTOGENARIANS now!"". 21 February 2024. Retrieved 2 March 2024.
  13. ^ Rocca, Mo; Greenberg, Jonathan. Roctogenarians - Book by Mo Rocca, Jonathan Greenberg. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1-6680-5250-1. Retrieved 2 March 2024.
  14. ^ "My Grandmother's Ravioli". IMDb. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  15. ^ "The Henry Ford's Innovation Nation with Mo Rocca – Host Bio". cbsdreamteam.com. Retrieved 19 December 2017.
  16. ^ "Social Media Reacts to Mo Rocca Reading at Papal Mass at Madison Square Garden". NBC New York. 25 September 2015. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  17. ^ "Mo Rocca Shares Reading at Mass for Pope Francis". NBC News. 25 September 2015.
  18. ^ Gauthier, Andrew (17 August 2009). "CBS News Looks Into the Future with Mo Rocca". Adweek.
  19. ^ Failla, Zak. "Shot At Redemption Slips Through Bethesda Native Mo Rocca's Hands In Celebrity Jeopardy! Win". Daily Voice. Published December 7, 2023. Accessed December 12, 2023.
  20. ^ Frank, Allegra (25 January 2024). "'Celebrity Jeopardy!' Winner Lisa Ann Walter Dishes on Her Surprising Win". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2 March 2024.
  21. ^ Anderson-Minshall, Diane (28 July 2011). "The Daily Show's Mo Rocca Comes Out". The Advocate.
  22. ^ Marans, Daniel (26 September 2015). "Mo Rocca's Starring Role In Pope's Mass Thrills LGBT Advocates". HuffPost.

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