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Also Known As: Gerald Miguel Rivera Died:
Born: July 4, 1943 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: producer, investigative reporter, TV host, documentary writer, actor, newspaper owner, merchant marine, Latino activist, lawyer, men's clothing salesman

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Passionate, pandering, ambitious or simply self-serving - all have been used at one time or another to describe the controversial career of broadcast journalist Geraldo Rivera. Emerging from a legal background and Hispanic activism in the late-1960s, the charismatic Rivera began reporting for New York's WABC-TV in 1970, where an investigation into the horrendous conditions at a local institution for the mentally disabled won him a Peabody Award and national attention. Laudable correspondent work for programs like "20/20" (ABC, 1978- ) made him a rising star in the world of television news. When the humiliating failure of his live special "The Mystery of Al Capone's Vault" (syndicated, 1986) made him a journalistic punch line, his career seemed all but over. Instead, Rivera embraced the sensationalistic approach more firmly than ever with his tabloid-driven daytime talk show "Geraldo" (syndicated, 1987-1998). Pioneering the realm of "Trash TV," Rivera's salaciously-themed episodes paved the way for the likes of Jenny Jones and Jerry Springer. Later attempts to reestablish himself as a serious journalist with such cable outlets as CNBC and Fox News Channel met with a mix of skepticism and curiosity....

Passionate, pandering, ambitious or simply self-serving - all have been used at one time or another to describe the controversial career of broadcast journalist Geraldo Rivera. Emerging from a legal background and Hispanic activism in the late-1960s, the charismatic Rivera began reporting for New York's WABC-TV in 1970, where an investigation into the horrendous conditions at a local institution for the mentally disabled won him a Peabody Award and national attention. Laudable correspondent work for programs like "20/20" (ABC, 1978- ) made him a rising star in the world of television news. When the humiliating failure of his live special "The Mystery of Al Capone's Vault" (syndicated, 1986) made him a journalistic punch line, his career seemed all but over. Instead, Rivera embraced the sensationalistic approach more firmly than ever with his tabloid-driven daytime talk show "Geraldo" (syndicated, 1987-1998). Pioneering the realm of "Trash TV," Rivera's salaciously-themed episodes paved the way for the likes of Jenny Jones and Jerry Springer. Later attempts to reestablish himself as a serious journalist with such cable outlets as CNBC and Fox News Channel met with a mix of skepticism and curiosity. Never far from controversy, Rivera continued to raise eyebrows with incidents like his infamous "map in the sand" interview from Iraq, during which he revealed potentially sensitive information about ongoing U.S. Military operations. Boasting a career filled with impressive journalistic highs and embarrassing lows, Rivera defied the expectations of many critics by remaining a consistent media presence for more than four decades.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 All About Steve (2009)
2.
 Grindhouse (2007)
4.
 Primary Colors (1998) Himself
5.
6.
 Contact (1997) Himself
8.
 Grumpier Old Men (1995) Himself
10.
 Bonfire Of The Vanities, The (1990) (Uncredited) Robert Corso
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Grew up in NYC and West Babylon, Long Island, NY, where both parents were working in the cafeteria of a defense contractor
:
Passed the bar exam for New York state after studying at Brooklyn College
1968:
Started legal career as a clerk with the Harlem Assertion of Rights Community Action for Legal Services
:
Was a spokesperson for a New York City Latino activist group called the Young Lords
:
Worked as a reporter for WABC-TV
1972:
Took a key given him by an angry doctor and sneaked a camera crew into Building 6, which housed the most severely handicapped patients of the Willowbrook School, a huge facility for the mentally retarded on New York's Staten Island; the footage revealing squalor analogous to Auschwitz and the unprecedented time to vent granted him by WABC made Geraldo a local star in NYC
:
Hosted series of late night TV programs, "Good Night, America" (ABC)
1975:
Secured the rights for the first television presentation of the Abraham Zapruder film of the assassination of President John F Kennedy on "Good Night, America" America" (ABC)
1975:
Began serving as a correspondent for the information series, "Good Morning, America"
1977:
Became a correspondent for ABC News
1978:
Joined the primetime news magazine "20/20" as a correspondent; among storied covered was a return to Willowbrook in 1982
:
Worked as a reporter for the syndicated nightly program, "Entertainment Tonight"
1985:
Fired from ABC for pushing "20/20" to air a story on John and Robert Kennedy's affairs with Marilyn Monroe and complaining bitterly (and publicly lambasting Roone Arledge who had been his biggest supporter) when it did not air; there was also an incident, involving his associate producer and future wife C C Dyer getting caught using an ABC messenger to make a marijuana delivery, which added additional fuel to Arledge's ire
1986:
First of nine syndicated two-hour primetime documentary specials, the mercilessly hyped "The Mystery of Al Capone's Vaults"; received a phenomenal 31.8 rating but was a monumental bust when the vaults yielded nothing
:
Hosted daily talk show, "Geraldo!", which became known as "The Geraldo Rivera Show" in September 1996; taped last broadcast in May 1998
1987:
Formed production company, the Investigative News Group (date approximate)
1988:
Rumbled (along with Congress of Racial Equality head Roy Innes) with neo-Nazis, suffering a broken nose from a flying chair; it has remained the single most memorable (infamous) event of his daytime talk show
1989:
Formed production company, Maravilla Productions, named after the Spanish word for "marvelous"
1991:
On March 1st, "Geraldo!" began airing in the former USSR via Soviet Channel 2 x 2, making it the first US television program scheduled on a daily basis by Soviet TV
:
Hosted and served as managing editor of the daily investigative magazine series, "Now It Can Be Told" (syndicated)
1992:
Played the role of Ted Mayne on the TV-movie, "Perry Mason: The Case of the Reckless Romeo" (NBC)
1993:
Opened the Broadcast Boxing Club, a fitness center in NYC
1994:
Launched "Rivera Live", a daily primetime show airing on CNBC; got tremendous mileage "worrying the O.J. bone" (an estimated 550 hours); also concentrated on what he called "Zippergate", the investigation of the relationship between US President Bill Clinton and White House intern Monica Lewinsky
1996:
Issued his personal "Bill of Rights and Responsibilities" and subsequently steered clear of the most egregiously sleazoid topics, carving out a little piece of high ground as America's investigator
1997:
Appeared as interviewee (along with Phil Donahue, Maury Povich and Morton Downey Jr) on "Talked to Death", an HBO "America Undercover" documentary revealing what goes on backstage at some tabloid TV shows, emphasizing the do-anything-for-ratings mentality
1997:
Traded in his syndicated talkshow for a bigger role in the NBC news division, signing a three-year contract worth an estimated $3 million annually; NBC exercised its right to negotiate the deal after Rivera had already accepted an offer to be an anchor on the Fox News Channel
1998:
Began contributing reports to NBC's "Today" show
1998:
Debuted half-hour nightly newscast "Upfront Tonight" on CNBC (September)
2001:
Switched to Fox News Channel in order to travel to Afghanistan in pursuit of Osama bin Laden; began airing the weekend show "At Large with Geraldo Rivera"
2005:
Began a weekday syndicated show, "Geraldo at Large"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

West Babylon High School: Babylon , New York -
State University of New York Maritime College: Bronx , New York -
New York City Community College of Applied Arts and Sciences: Brooklyn , New York -
University of Arizona: Tucson , Arizona - 1965
School of Law, Brooklyn College: Brooklyn , New York - 1969
School of Law, University of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia , Pennsylvania - 1969
School of Journalism, Columbia University: New York , New York - 1970

Notes

Through a mistake, his birth name was given as Gerald Riviera. He legally changed his surname in the 1960s when he was beginning his career.

Some sources list July 5 as Mr. Rivera's birthdate.

Rivera owned the Two Rivers Times newspaper in New Jersey and his wife C C Dyer was the publisher.

Rivera has received a number of daytime and special category Emmy Awards, the majority of which are regional awards. He has also received two Robert F. Kennedy Awards (1973 and 1975) and two Alfred I du Pont-Columbia University Citations. In addition, the New York State Associated Press named him Broadcaster of the Year in 1971, 1972 and 1974.

"Jerry Rivers" is less another name Rivera has used than one that has been associated with him. Some have claimed over the years that it is his real name, that he appropriated a more ethnic-sounding name merely to be fashionable. Rivera has always steadfastly stated that his current name is his birth name. His mother's attempts to Americanize it consisted only in dropping the "o" in Geraldo.

A sampler of criticism of Rivera could include such remarks as the following: "You know sensationalism is back in style . . . when Geraldo Rivera is riding high" (Richard Zoglin, Time); "His narcissism overwhelms his news sense" (Charles Leerhsen, Newsweek); "Geraldo Rivera should be arrested for exposing himself" (Reuven Frank, former president of NBC News) --all quoted in Los Angeles Times, March 5, 1989.

Responding to charges that he is sometimes too arrogant, Rivera responded in an interview in PLAYBOY in 1979: "I was definitely arrogant and pushy, but I was other things too . . . arrogance is definitely part of my life. My defense against criticism has always been arrogance. I would always answer my critics by saying, 'What do you know? When was the last time you were in the streets? What have you lived through? What have you seen?'"

Rivera has also noted that the criticism he weathers has its good side as well: "I've explained what I do so many times in as public a way as I can that my audience now EXPECTS people to say bad things about me. It keeps me in the position of being almost a perennial underdog." --quoted in Los Angeles Times, March 5, 1989.

Rivera promised a junior high school class that he would pay for their college education (c. 1987) upon graduation from high school. Five years later he payed for nine of the graduate's college educations (approximately $180,000 annually). He continues to actively encourage children to realize their dreams through education and has remained politically active as an advocate for children's and minority rights.

According to his 1991 autobiography, the aptly named "Exposing Myself"--a book he now refers to as "the colossal error of my adult life"--his life up until about 1987 was one long string of romance and debauchery and adventure. His policy, he wrote was to keep "one steady and one on the side," having flings, flirtations or affairs with--he claimed--the likes of Bette Midler, Liza Minnelli and Marian Javits, wife of late New York Sen. Jacob Javits, as well as nameless, and countless, production assistants, Studio 54 habitues, and groupies. Characterizing himself in the book as "a grunting, voracious pig in heat", Rivera bragged in a 1989 Playboy interview of having sex with "thousands of women, literally thousands. It's gaudy." In light of his confessed infidelities, it's little wonder his first three marriages failed.

About his monogamous relationship with fourth wife: "I'm a flirt but I'm not a fool. I play to an audience of one. If C C were ever to hear that I betrayed her, she would just say goodbye, and she's too valuable." --Rivera to People, March 17, 1997.

"What I really want is to be one of the wise men of my generation. I think I've earned it now. I want to be the Jennings, Brokaw, Rather person for a fourth entitiy, be it Fox or whoever. The old news format is dying. I want to conduct a show that would be rock & roll news for the millenium. And that will be my last job in broadcasting. I want one more hit." --Geraldo Rivera to Rolling Stone, September 18, 1997.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Linda Coblentz. First wife; met at the University of Arizona; married c. 1965, in part to avoid the draft; divorced.
wife:
Edith Bucket Vonnegut. Artist, fashion designer. Second wife; daughter of author Kurt Vonnegut Jr; married on December 14, 1971; divorced.
wife:
Sherryl Rivera. Producer. Third wife; married on December 31, 1976; divorced in 1984; had worked with Rivera at ABC-TV; mother of his oldest son.
wife:
C C Dyer. Producer, publisher. Fourth wife; born c. 1956; together from c. 1980; married in July 1987; publisher of the <i>Two River Times</i>, a local New Jersey weekly newspaper owned by husband; worked together on "20/20"; separated in September 1999; reconciled six-weeks later in November 1999; separated again in spring 2000; filed for divorce.
companion:
Erica Pressman. Publicist. Worked for Rivera's talk show.
companion:
Erica Levy. TV news producer. Born c. 1975; works at CNBC; married August 10, 2003.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Cruz Rivera. Kitchen supervisor, diner owner. Puerto Rican; changed first name to Alan when he converted to Judaism; married Rivera's mother in 1940; died on Thanksgiving 1987 of a heart attack.
mother:
Lillian Rivera. Waitress. Jewish.
sister:
Irene Hunt. Parochial school principal. Born c. 1941.
brother:
Wilfredo Rivera. Steamfitter. Older; a cousin adopted and raised by Rivera's family.
sister:
Sharon Rivera. Artist. Born c. 1947.
brother:
Craig Rivera. TV reporter. Younger; worked with Geraldo on "20/20"; also appeared on the syndicated nightly newsmagazine, "Inside Edition".
son:
Gabriel Miguel Rivera. Born in July 1979; mother, Sheri Rivera.
son:
Cruz. Born in 1987; born to a woman Rivera was briefly involved with before his marriage to C C Dyer; living with mother in Texas in 1997.
daughter:
Isabella Holmes Rivera. On born November 7, 1992; mother, C C Dyer.
daughter:
Simone Cruickshank Rivera. Born in September 1994; mother, C C Dyer.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Puerto Rico: Island of Contrast" Parents' Magazine Press
"Miguel Robles: So Far" Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
"A Special Kind of Courage: Profiles of Young Americans" Simon & Schuster
"Willowbrook"
"Exposing Myself" Bantam Books
VIEW COMPLETE BIBLIOGRAPHY

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