Geraldo Rivera 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 and appears regularly on Fox News Channel programs such as The Five.
Gerald Rivera was born on July 4, 1943, at Beth Israel Hospital in Manhattan, New York. He is one of four children of the late Cruz Rivera and Lilly Friedman. Throughout his life, Rivera has explained often his Puerto Rican heritage. According to Rivera's autobiography, his father was born in Puerto Rico and was one of thousands of Puerto Ricans who migrated to the United States seeking work and better living opportunities during the 1930s. When he married Rivera's mother, Lilly Friedman, he changed his first name to Allen to avoid offending her Jewish family; the name Cruz means cross in Spanish. At the time of their marriage, crosscultural marriages, and families were not well accepted in U.S. society. Thus, when Rivera was born, his mother named him Gerald and changed the spelling of his name to Riviera to give it a more generic European connotation.
Rivera was raised in the town of Babylon in Suffolk County, Long Island. His father worked as a cook at the cafeteria of the Republic Aviation Company and his mother stayed at home to take care of the children. He attended the local public schools and has described his childhood as being filled with constant internal conflicts over his dual ethnic heritage. While he was exposed to the Spanish language, his Puerto Rican relatives, and Puerto Rican customs and traditions as a child, he was raised within the Jewish faith and was not fully accepted by either ethnic group.
An average student during most of his academic career, Rivera graduated from West Babylon High. After being encouraged by his high school principal to attend college, Rivera gained admission to the New York State Maritime College. He attended but became disenchanted with the idea of becoming a professional merchant marine. He left the school after his freshman year and, with one of his best friends, headed west and enrolled at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
After graduation in 1965, he married and moved to California, working briefly as a salesperson in a clothing store. He then came back to New York and attended Brooklyn Law School. He did an internship at the Manhattan District attorney's office, where he gained some experience in criminal law and became exposed to the many complex social problems affecting American society at the time. Rivera's law school experience is significant not only because it influenced his later journalistic work, but also because for the first time he started to accept and seek understanding of his Puerto Rican ethnicity.
On graduation from law school in 1969 as one of the top students in his class, Rivera was admitted to the University of Pennsylvania, where for a summer he took part in the Reginald Heber Smith Fellowship in Poverty Law. After complet-ing the fellowship and passing the New York State Bar, Rivera took a job as an attorney working for the Community Action for Legal Services (CALS) in lower Manhattan, where he became involved with the Young Lords, a group of Puerto Rican activists fighting for social and economic equity for the city's poor Puerto Ricans. Rivera joined the Young Lords as their attorney and became one of its most outspoken members. Wearing their trademark purple beret, he assisted members of the organization in fighting diverse social causes. He eventually left his work on CALS and opened a small law practice.
Rivera's assertiveness and combativeness had made him a fixture on local New York television stations, which covered many of the activities of the Young Lords. A1 Primo, news director for WABC, the New York ABC affiliate, asked him to leave his legal work to work as a television reporter for them. Rivera accepted the offer in the spring of 1970. Because he lacked journalistic training, he was given a scholarship to attend a summer journalism fellowship at Columbia Journalism School. The program was geared toward preparing members of minority groups for careers in the news media.
During his first months at WABC (Channel 7), Rivera went through the process of learning his new trade. His most important story of the period was his expose of the inhumane treatment faced by mentally retarded patients at the Willowbrook State Hospital School on Staten Island. At the time, Willowbrook was one the largest facilities for the mentally retarded in the United States, providing services for more than 6,000 patients. Because of Rivera's popularity, the station gave him the coveted position of cultural reporter to cover cultural activities and celebrities in New York. He reported on celebrities such as John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Bianca Jagger, and Johnny Mathis, and fairly quickly was recognized as a celebrity on Iris own. This gave him the opportunity for a career with television networks.
In 1973 Rivera founded Maravilla Productions, his own production company, and started producing a series of news programs following the 60-Minutes style for ABC's Good Night America. The program aired between 1974 and 1976 but he continued working as a reporter for WABC until 1975. That year he moved to Good Morning America and continued doing his late night show. In 1977 he was hired by the news division of ABC and also reported on special stories for them. Rivera joined ABC's news magazine 20/20 in 1978 as a chief reporter and immediately launched a series of investigative reports that gave credibility and prestige to the program. His coverage of the death of singer Elvis Presley and his eventual uncovering of Presley's addiction to prescription drugs helped establish 20/20 as a serious news show. He continued with ABC until 1985, when he was fired for criticizing the network's refusal to air a report about the alleged links between the Kennedy family and the death of movie star Marilyn Monroe.
In 1987 Rivera began producing Geraldo, a talk show that was characterized by controversial, sexually charged, and violent topics. His nose was broken during one episode while trying to break up a brawl between a group of neo-Nazis appearing. Despite much criticism, the show aired until 1998.
During the 1990s, Rivera made a remarkable comeback as a serious television reporter. In 1994 he began airing Rivera Live for the cable network CNBC. Capitalizing on the trial of O.J. Simpson, Rivera brought a wide array of news commentators and lawyers to offer their views on the Simpson case. He signed a $30 million six-year contract with NBC. In 1998 he was a news reporter on the NBC Today show and also began Upfront Tonight, a news commentary program, on CNBC. In 2001 he left CNBC to join the Fox News Network. Despite his professional mistakes during the 1980s and 1990s, one source has said: "Geraldo Rivera, wearing a look of contentment that comes with the feeling that one's sins have been redeemed, is unabashed as he has so often been in his 25 year career in television pronouncing himself born again".
Geraldo Rivera voted for Obama in 2012, but he is a registered Republican. He says his heroes are Republican moderates from the Northeast, just the kind that can win in New Jersey.
Rivera joined Fox News Channel in 2001. While covering the war in Iraq, he again drew criticism in 2003 for reporting troop positions and military plans and was forced to leave that country. Rivera returned to hosting his own show in 2005 with the syndicated news program, Geraldo at Large.
Geraldo Rivera is a fierce competitor on Celebrity Apprentice as a legend in the entertainment business with a net worth of $15 million. Nonetheless, he has lost the competition to Leeza Gibbons. He began his career in investigative journalism, even reporting the deaths of John Lennon and Elvis Presley. He also made a name for himself with his own TV talk show as well as his radio show. Read on for the facts on Rivera and why viewers couldn’t take their eyes off him this season on the Celebrity Apprentice.
Rivera has been married five times. The first four marriages ended in divorce. He married Erica Levy in 2003, and the couple has a daughter named Solita Liliana. Rivera has four children from previous relationships