Skip to comments.Geraldo Rivera ...Jerry Rivers.... Is he Jewish?
Posted on 05/03/2002 8:32:10 AM PDT by dennisw
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage - Biography
Journalist, Television talk show host
Controversial television journalist Geraldo Rivera, host of the daytime talk show Geraldo, has gained a reputation as the king of tabloid television. Despite his reputation, however, Rivera has enjoyed a long and often distinguished career. Some of his many roles have included advocacy lawyer, public speaker, charitable foundation board member, and investigative reporter.
Born in Brooklyn
On 3 July (some sources say 4 July) 1943, Gerald Michael Riviera was born to Allen and Lillian (Friedman) Rivera. In later years, the transformed "Geraldo" questioned his mother about her misspelling of their surname on his birth certificate. Although she claimed a poor sense of spelling, Rivera asserted in his autobiography Exposing Myself that he believed she was attempting to deflect future discrimination from her children. Such discrimination was very real in Brooklyn, where the Riveras then lived, and the mixed marriage of Cruz, a Puerto Rican man, and Lillian, a Jewish woman, drew its share of criticism.
From Long Island to Alphabet City
In their desire to shield their children from discrimination, the Riveras (who sometimes used the misspelled surname) moved to West Babylon, Long Island. There, young Rivera grew up in ethnic confusion. Raised in the Jewish faith of his mother, he physically resembled his father's family, many of whom still lived in Puerto Rico. To complicate matters further, his neighbors, schoolmates, and friends were mostly white Protestants. His desire to fit in caused him to lead a double life an ethnic pastiche at home, and a 1950s suburban teen at school.
Exposed to Anti-Semitism
Even though the Riveras felt that they had to downplay their identity in West Babylon, it was a surprisingly open community. However, a blatant act of anti-Semitism at their temple in the 1950s jarred young Geraldo into a sense of what minorities in less accepting communities faced every day. It would be the first of several instances that helped him form a deep pride in both of his heritages and at the same time alerted him that he might become a "lightening rod" for the close-minded.
Enrolls in College
As he grew up, Rivera developed career plans and concentrated on where to attend college, while ignoring the growing specter of the Vietnam War. After serving two years in the Merchant Marine, he attended New York City's Community College of Applied Arts and Sciences and the State University of New York Maritime College. Believing he needed to see what life outside New York was like, Rivera spent some summers in Puerto Rico, and eventually transferred to the University of Arizona. He earned his B.A. there in 1965. While studying in Arizona, he became aware of the reality of the war's escalation and the probability of being drafted. A friend suggested that he marry his girlfriend, thereby gaining a deferment.
Rivera married Linda Coblentz in Scottsdale, but they soon moved on to Huntington Beach, California. Jobs were hard to come by, and Rivera often suspected that his ethnic background was the reason why so few doors opened. Many times he wondered whether he should return to calling himself Gerry Rivers, as he had done at Arizona. His new father-in-law was concerned about the couple's financial prospects, so he encouraged Rivera to attend law school. Soon the couple moved back to New York City so that Rivera could matriculate at the Brooklyn Law School. He received his J.D. in 1969 and was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1970.
Involved in Social Advocacy
Just as Rivera's career was taking off, his marriage was falling apart. In his autobiography, he admitted that this problem was due to his infidelities, a compulsion that would also cost him two subsequent marriages. Ultimately, Linda moved out of their inner-city apartment in the tough Lower East Side neighborhood called "Alphabet City." It was here that Gerry Rivers finally became Geraldo Rivera, immersing himself in his Hispanic heritage and in social advocacy. While accompanying a Hispanic pride group called the Young Lords in their "occupation" of the First Spanish United Methodist Church, he committed himself to the cause of "poverty law," eventually serving as their attorney. While in law school, he had clerked for the Harlem Assertion of Rights and Community Action for Legal Services center. Now in practice, he extended this advocacy-based service. Though he defended poor clients, he still felt he was not making any real, lasting change for them.
Decides upon Career Change
The early 1970s was a time when federal jobs were opening up to underrepresented groups. During this period, Rivera gained the opportunity to become a television journalist. He had been considering a career change when the Federal Communications Commission started its initiative to get more minorities into broadcasting. As a bilingual social advocate, Rivera seemed like the ideal candidate when he applied for the position of newscaster for WABC-TV in New York City. He attended a crash course in graduate journalism at Columbia University at ABC's urging.
Rises to Investigative Reporter
In broadcast news, it is common for the new face on a team to be assigned fluff pieces, usually social events or human interest stories. Assuming this was part of moving up the ladder, Rivera accepted the assignments, but longed for the day when he could cover hard news. It was a chance encounter with a suicidal heroin addict, while Rivera was going to work one day in 1970, that catapulted him into the slot of "investigative reporter." He arranged for a news crew to film the desperate pleas of the addict's brother, and within days the piece was expanded into a series, "Drug Crisis in East Harlem." The series earned him the 1971 New York State Associated Press Broadcasters Association Award; he added to this early success, by winning the Broadcaster of the Year for 1971, 1972, and 1974.
As Rivera's fame grew, he was increasingly identified as a Hispanic role model. Nevertheless, detractors charged that he was culturally as well as ethnically Jewish, and that his emphasis on his Hispanic heritage was merely a vehicle to obtain an affirmative action job. To shore up their criticism, they pointed to Rivera's frequent name changes, his early attempts to downplay his Latino roots, and his suburban years in Long Island. They even viewed his inner-city apartment and association with the Young Lords as evidence that he was trying to become something he was not. Rivera met such criticism with commitment to minority stories, excellence in broadcasting, and the intellectual higher ground of silence, although privately the rumors irked him.
Marries Novelist's Daughter
Rivera remarried in 1971, this time to Edith Bucket Vonnegut (daughter of novelist. "Edie," as she preferred to be called, was an artist and designer, and as the child of a famous parent she was used to the very public life that was just then buffeting Rivera. Their marriage lasted several years, but eventually succumbed to Rivera's infidelity. Despite the problems in his personal life, Rivera was about to produce the expose that would launch him into the national spotlight.
The Willowbrook ReportNew York's mental institutions in 1972 were filthy, dangerous warehouses. At the Willowbrook State School for the Mentally Retarded on Staten Island, Rivera's investigative team found mentally impaired children living in conditions unsanctioned since the reform movement of the last century. Acting on a tip from a former employee, the news crew made an unannounced visit, gaining access in a possibly illegal manner. The resulting taped report "Willowbrook: A Report on How It Is and Why It Doesn't Have Be That Way" sickened America and initiated an institutional reform movement. Rivera himself gained national exposure and a promotion to national network television.
Hosts Late Night Show
Rivera became the host of the nationally broadcast late night program Good Night, America. The show featured a mixture of exposé and celebrity watch, which put Rivera's face before a wider audience but did not satisfy his journalist's hunger for hard news. After all, he was the man who had produced such exposes as "The Littlest Junkie," "Migrants: Dirt Cheap," and "Marching Home, Again." As a result, Good Night, America became a forum for Rivera's personal opinions on controversial subjects such as the legalization of marijuana and prostitution. His tendency to editorialize had gotten him into trouble at WABC, when he publicly announced his commitment to Senator George McGovern's failed 1972 presidential campaign.
Ruffled Feathers at ABC
In 1978, Rivera began a seven-year stint as a special correspondent for the ABC news magazine 20/20. Although he was back on track with "legitimate" journalists, he continued to interject his personal viewpoint into his stories. It was the sort of thing that unnerved seasoned TV journalists, but it made Rivera widely popular with audiences, who saw him as a reporter who cared about the people and issues in his stories. The downfall of Rivera at ABC was a matter of some speculation, but the spark that started it was generally acknowledged to be a story about Marilyn Monroe 's supposed romantic involvement with Senator Robert Kennedy, who was Attorney General of the United States at the time of her death. Rivera contended that the man in power at 20/20, Roone Arledge, killed the story due to his friendship with the Kennedys. Arledge countered that it was just the latest in a long line of stories bordering on sensationalism that Rivera had tried to bully 20/20 into airing.
Documentaries Propel Career
By 1985, Rivera had begun carving out a niche for himself in the field of syndicated documentaries. His hallmark documentary was a live broadcast of The Opening of Al Capone's Vault in 1985. Even though the sensational build-up over two hours resulted in an anti-climax when the vault yielded little more than old glass bottles, it received the largest audience ever for a recorded live broadcast. The high ratings propelled Rivera into several other like documentaries, including American Vice: The Doping of America , Murder: Live from Death Row, and Devil Worship: Exposing Satan's Underground. Although some of these productions resulted in lawsuits Rivera's camera crews filmed arrests live, ignoring the rights of innocent people who would later be released with charges droppedhis fame grew exponentially. In fact, he began to regard lawsuits, bad press, and physical confrontation as enhancements for his public image.
Second Marriage Ends
Rivera's tumultuous career throughout the 1970s and 1980s was matched by an equally rocky personal life. After his 1976 divorce from Edie, Rivera married Sherryl Raymond, a TV producer. This marriage resulted in a son, Gabriel Miguel, though Rivera admitted that he did not properly appreciate the joys of fatherhood during the early years of his son's life. The marriage ended in 1987, the same year Rivera's signature television show was launched.
Origins of Tabloid Television
The craze of tabloid television syndicated hour-long talk shows that take a peeping tom's look at various sensational subjectsstarted innocently enough. The forerunner of these shows was Phil Donahue's local program in Dayton, Ohio, in the 1960s. Donahue himself went on to host a national talk show, and in his wake followed Oprah Winfrey, Sally Jessy Raphael, Jerry Springer, and many others. However, no person would come to characterize this form of entertainment more than Geraldo Rivera. His constant striving for more unusual guests and topics earned him a reputation among journalists and critics that was less than complimentary. However, Rivera reveled in the infamy, even burlesquing his own image by playing himself on television dramas. Such self-deprecating humor made him a good-natured, easy target.
Sustains Injury During Show
Rivera was very serious about the quality of his show, however. He was accused of inciting guests to boost ratings, but he also became the unwitting victim of guests-gone-berserk. Perhaps the most famous of these incidents broke out during a show about teenage white supremacists. African American activist Roy Innis was called a racial slur by a White Aryan Resistance Youth Group member and a fistfight occurred. During the resulting fracas, a chair was hurled over the front of the stage and struck Rivera, breaking his nose.
No matter how controversial the Geraldo show became, Rivera remained extremely popular with the public. He won seven Emmy Awards and the presigious Peabody Award as well as many broadcast journalism citations and honorary doctorates. In addition, Rivera's family life appeared to stabilize after his 1987 marriage to TV producer C. C. Dyer. The couple tried to have children, undergoing several surgeries and experiencing two miscarriages. They finally had a daughter, Caitlin, in 1993. Mother and daughter have frequently appeared in the audience during tapings of Geraldo, and Rivera often held his daughter in his arms during commercial break lead-ins.
Publishes AutobiographySometimes lauded, sometimes criticized, Geraldo Rivera undoubtedly became a force to be reckoned with. His early triumphs have often been overlooked by those who decry his more controversial exploits. On the jacket of his autobiography, Rivera cited a former NBC News president who said "Geraldo Rivera should be arrested for exposing himself." To counter the remark, Rivera titled his 1991 book Exposing Myself. True to its title, the book provides a highly personal and sometimes shocking portrait of the complex and controversial television personality.
During the 1990s, Rivera made his way back from his King of Tabloid reputation and was once again perceived by the networks and by many viewers as a serious investigative journalist and reporter. His CNBC series Rivera Live, which explored court cases and legal matters was very successful. In 1997 Rivera was being wooed by the big networks when he signed a new six-year contract with NBC worth more than $30 million.
Brewer, Annie M., ed., Biography Almanac, Detroit: Gale, 1981.
Les Brown's Encyclopedia of Television, 3rd edition, Detroit: Gale, 1992.
Rivera, Geraldo, Exposing Myself, Bantam, 1991.
Ryan, Bryan, ed., Hispanic Writers, Detroit: Gale, 1991.
Carter, Bill, "Million Deal from NBC," New York Times News Service, 1997, accessed 8/26/99 online at http://www.latinolink.com
Detroit Free Press, September 19, 1994.
Esquire, April 1986.
TV Guide, April 18, 1987; March 26, 1988.
I post this only since the shameless self promoter is a shame for the Jews. Shep Smith is better on MidEast issues than is Rivera. Brit Hume and John Gibson are better and not fooled by Pallie BS>
Jerry was trying to get the old Terrorist to give up terrorism.
Funny as hell to watch!
Geraldo can kiss my "long and distinguished" member.
Jerry was trying to get the old Terrorist to give up terrorism.
Funny as hell to watch!
Saw it dude!!! Geraldo must be going senile just like his hero Yasser! Geraldo as a Jesse Jackson style "diplomat" !
LOLOLOLOL! The mountainous ego of this faker!
I did. I noticed that he let Yassir get away with the outrageous assertion that it was the Israelis who were "desecrating Christianity" by laying siege to the Church of the Nativity. If Geraldo were one-tenth the "professional journalist" he fancies himself, he would have pointed out to Arafat-head that it was Palestinian thugs who invaded the church at gunpoint -- and then proceeded to loot it, according to an Armenian monk who left the church a week or so ago.
Jewishness comes only from the mother. So Jerry is Jewish but his children are not unless their mother is Jewish
They assimilate and disappear.
We reproduce Jewish children and grandchildren.
Why? Because he parlays his heretofore "victim" status as Hispanic and Jew in a calculated bid to burnish his own image?
I'm surprised he doesn't roll his r's and sport a yarmulke why he's at it.
My point is
that we only have to deal with people like this
for one generation.
They assimilate and disappear.
We reproduce Jewish children and grandchildren.
we only have to deal with people like thisWell ... two generations if you count the traitor Jewess who married a Cuban in the first place.
for one generation.
Strange that clever media manipulators like Geraldo or political operators like Hillary! would have the Jews pegged as believing the slightest drop of blood made her somehow more acceptable to Jews.
Where do they get these nutty ideas?
We reproduce Jewish children and grandchildren.How come you didn't weigh on the Israeli population control thread?
So many threads, so little time, where is it ?
I'll tell you right now that I got outed as an "anti-semite" AGAIN on the thread.
Try to understand that (1) I feel very strongly about the issue of State-Sanctioned Genocide of the Unwanted and (2) given the crystal clear history of US targeting of Catholics, Jews, Hispanics, Eastern Euros and other undesirables for birth control, abortion and other "reproductive rights" to keep their WASPy selves from being overrun by dysgenic sorts, I cannot for the life of me understand why the State of Israel employs such a tactic.
While I may have been a little blown away by your last post, I actually do understand your sentiment. I'm a big proponent of Catholics rearing big Catholic families myself. I see no reason either of us should fall for the WASP agit-prop designed only to maintain what population differentials they believe are in their best interests.
You have called attention to the rift in Israeli society between secular Israelis and the religious Jewish population. The seculars have always controlled the government, but since they are ardent practitioners of "family planning" while the Orthodox raise large families, their control is slipping away as the religious parties grow larger.
Since the "intifada" the religious and secular Israelis have united together against a common enemy, but every once in a while some dispute or other will flare up.
With one exception, the secular Israelis are the ones who want to make concessions and compromises to the Palestinians, while the Orthodox are more "hard line." The one exception to the Orthodox support of Israel is an oddball fringe Orthodox group called Neturei Karta which shows up at pro-Palestinian rallies. However, they are a small minority of the religious Jews.
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