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Rivera in September 2010
|Born||Gerald Michael Riviera
July 4, 1943
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Education||J.D. from Brooklyn Law School, Journalism degree from Columbia University|
|Occupation||Lawyer, television talk show host, news anchor and reporter, columnist for FOXNewsLatino.com|
|Notable credit(s)||Geraldo at Large
|Spouse||Linda Coblentz (1965–1969)
Edith Vonnegut (1971–1975)
Sherryl Raymond (1976–1984)
C.C. Dyer (1987–2000)
Erica Michelle Levy (since August 10, 2003)
|Children||Gabriel Miguel (b. 2 July 1979)
Cruz Grant (b. 1987)
Isabella Holmes (b. 7 November 1992)
Simone Cruickshank (b. 24 September 1994)
Solita Liliana (b. 2 August 2005)
Cordelia Bowe Rivera
Irene Rivera Hurst (professor at Hofstra University)
Geraldo Rivera (born Gerald Michael Riviera; July 4, 1943) 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.
Rivera was born at Beth Israel Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Lillian (née Friedman), a waitress, and the late Cruz "Allen" Rivera (October 1, 1915 – November 1987), a restaurant worker and cab driver. Rivera's father was a Catholic Puerto Rican of Spanish ancestry, and his mother is of Ashkenazi Russian Jewish descent. He was raised "mostly Jewish" and had a Bar Mitzvah. He grew up in Brooklyn and West Babylon, New York. He has four siblings: Wilfredo, Sharon, Irene, and Craig.
Rivera is an alumnus of the University of Arizona, where he played varsity lacrosse as goalie. 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. He received his J.D. from Brooklyn Law School in 1969, and did postgraduate work at the University of Pennsylvania that same year.
After a brief career in law enforcement where he served the New York City Police Department as an investigator, Rivera returned to law and became a lawyer for a New York Puerto Rican activist group, the Young Lords, and attracted the attention of WABC-TV news director Al Primo when he was interviewed about the group's occupation of a 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 Latin) so they agreed to go with the pronunciation used by the Puerto Rican side of Rivera's family: Geraldo. He is a member of Tau Delta Phi fraternity.
Geraldo 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 for his report on the neglect and abuse of mentally retarded patients at Staten Island's Willowbrook State School and 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 formed 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, a movie about Lennon and Yoko Ono's lives in New York City. The movie was released in 2007.
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.
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.
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.
In April 1986, Rivera hosted the syndicated special The Mystery of Al Capone's Vault, an ill-conceived adventure where 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".
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. One of the early shows was titled "Men in Lace Panties and the Women Who Love Them". His nose was broken in a well-publicized brawl during a 1988 show, involving white supremacists, anti-racist skinheads, black activists, and Jewish activists.
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.
In 1994, he began hosting nightly discussion of the news on CNBC called Rivera Live 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 the show's four main characters. In May 1994, he appeared on The Price Is Right.
Later, he would take his talk show in a different direction, moving it from "Trash TV" to a more subdued, serious show, and changed its name from Geraldo to The Geraldo Rivera Show. By this time, however, the show had run its course, and was cancelled in 1998.
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.
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.
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, and nearly expelled Rivera from Iraq. Two days later, he announced that he would be reporting on the Iraq conflict from Kuwait.
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 was not provided.
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 made about her by Geraldo in a Boston Globe interview. Rivera, while objecting to her views on immigration, says, "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.
On November 10, 2010, Oprah Winfrey invited Rivera, along with former talk show hosts Phil Donahue, Sally Jessy Raphael, Ricki Lake and Montel Williams as guests on her show. This was the first time that she had fellow talkers appear together since their programs left the air.
Stephen Colbert has frequently lampooned Rivera on The Colbert Report, especially calling attention to his mustache. He has explained in interviews that Rivera was one of the inspirations for the "man with a mission" facet of Colbert's right-wing pundit character. "That's the heart of [Rivera's] persona: that he really is changing the world with every interview he does — just slowly, syllable by syllable, he is changing the great ship of human destiny with his will toward justice." Colbert's character, in turn, "thinks, 'We're gonna bust things wide open with this report,' when in fact he never has an idea of what he's talking about." Rivera has since appeared on the show.
While hosting his show on Fox News on the night of May 1, 2011, Rivera broke the news that Osama bin Laden was killed by American special forces at 10:40 p.m. EDT. When the news broke, Rivera proudly proclaimed "this is the greatest night of my career".
On October 10, 2011, Rivera was filmed by Russia Today being jeered by the Occupy Wall Street protesters at Liberty Square. The crowd chanted, "FOX News lies!" until Rivera and his camera crew left the protesters.
On January 3, 2012 Rivera began hosting a weekday radio talk show on WABC (AM) in New York. On January 30, 2012 Rivera also began hosting a weekday radio talk show on KABC (AM) in Los Angeles from 10AM to 12PM PST. He fills the 10 a.m. to noon slot between the syndicated Imus in the Morning and Rush Limbaugh programs.
On March 23, 2012, Rivera made controversial comments regarding Trayvon Martin's hoodie and how the hoodie was connected to the shooting death of Martin. Since the comments, of which even Rivera's son Gabriel was "ashamed", the barrage of dissent against him on various websites (including Twitter) and even his own radio show has not stopped.
He apologized for any offense that he caused with the comments. Some, however, have taken the apology as disingenuous, if even as any kind of apology whatsoever. Among those who did not accept the apology was a longtime friend of Rivera, Russell Simmons. He later apologized to Trayvon Martin's parents as well.
Rivera is scheduled to head to Afghanistan for the last time in his career on April 11, 2012 (which he specifically stated on his KABC radio show)-- as he promised his wife, Erica.
Rivera has been married five times and has fathered five children:
He also fathered Cruz Grant (born 1987) with an unnamed, Mexican-American woman.
Rivera is an active sailor. He is owner/skipper of the boat Voyager and sailed in the Marion-Bermuda race (June 2011).
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