Geraldo Rivera: Highly Unauthorized Biography of a Survivor

There’s a nasty rumor out there that the program “Geraldo at Large” is going to be cancelled as of September.

Bunk! You can never cancel Geraldo. Rivera is, and I say this in a flattering sense, media herpes. He’ll always be bouncing back where and when you least expect him.

A glance at his unauthorized biography (I tried to find him to authorize it, but he was nowhere to be found in the bowling alley last night) tells the story of a survivor — a man who will not be kept down, even if involves risking harm to a swagger that oozes three words: Damn I’m handsome!

Here’s little more on the life of Geraldo:

Geraldo Rivera was born in New York City in 1943. Being a child of Jewish and Puerto Rican descent wasn’t easy. Besides getting extremely nervous whenever he got on an elevator with himself, he was constantly picked on by his elementary school contemporaries for his mixed heritage and thick mustache. The mustache would become one of Geraldo’s trademarks, but it was also was a burden. The kids would laugh at the little 8 year old boy with the funny mustache, and when he got older, it even gave then President Clinton a giggle — most likely because it tickled his ass.

By the early 1960’s, Geraldo was studying to become a lawyer. He was thinking ahead. He knew that if he ever reached his dream of becoming a reporter, being a lawyer would lend him even more credibility. After years of hard work and no doubt hours of self congratulatory conversation with family and friends, Geraldo was to finally achieve his dream of becoming a reporter.

As a member of the Latino activist group called the Young Lords, he appeared on the evening news as a spokesperson for the group so often that local station WABC hired him as a temporary reporter. They figured they could force him into less air time that way.

After a reporting stint at WABC, Geraldo then went on to continue a successful investigative journalism career on such shows as “Good Night, America,” “Good Morning, America,” “Hey There, America,” “Geraldo, Live At Budokan,” and “20/20.” Rivera was also a regular guest on the Barbara Walters interview show “What The Hell Did You Just Say?”

Geraldo was on top of the world. As Barbara often said, he knew exactly what kind of “twee” he wanted to be. That high flying feeling wouldn’t last for long though, because Geraldo was dismissed from ABC in 1985, and in his first attempt to rekindle his career went down like Rex Reed at Barney Frank’s birthday party. 

Yes indeed, Geraldo was about to open Al Capone’s vault.

The 1986 special “The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vault” was a ratings winner up to the point where the vault was opened, which is when the networks noticed a large albeit temporary rise in the ratings for “Life With Lucy.” Geraldo was expecting to open the vault up and find a stash of guns, bootlegged liquor and cash, but instead only saw his panicked reflection at the other end of it. The vault turned out to be almost as empty as the expressions on the faces of viewers. Geraldo’s planned follow-up special, “The Mystery of Whitney Houston’s Stash Drawer,” never got the green light from network executives.

After the Capone disaster, Geraldo’s credibility had been slapped down to the level of Phil Donohue and Sally Jesse Raphael, so he did what every self respecting journalist would have done; he decided to directly compete with them and started his own show, creatively titled “Geraldo.”

With heavy hitting show topics like “Elvis: Dead or Alive” and “Satan’s Black Market” (which, by the way, sells VHS copies of “Geraldo”), Rivera was able to find enough objects in Darwin’s recycle bin to sustain the show from 1987 until 1998. Most agree that the highlight of that show’s run was when Geraldo was hit in the face by a chair thrown by a white supremacist. The white supremacist later apologized to the chair, and Geraldo was suffering from a broken nose and more exposure than he could have ever hoped for.

“Dat guy broke by doze. I’b gonna get hib for dat” said Geraldo as he left the hospital with his proboscis wrapped like a non FDA approved deli sandwich.

After “Geraldo” ended, Rivera was quickly hired by NBC to sit at a desk and host a nightly Alan Dershowitz dis-infomercial. If Neilson released their ratings in audio form, with a high rating being the sound of a marching band playing the Notre Dame fight song, Geraldo’s CNBC show would have scored an average household ratings of “crickets.” Geraldo claimed he had a lot of viewers, but if he did, they were in the governments highly secret Viewer Protection Program.

Then things picked up for Geraldo. He’s left CNBC for the FOX News network and was sent to Afghanistan, Somolia and other violent places as a war correspondent where he provided Americans with a nightly report about secret U.S. troop movements. FOX News executives called Rivera’s deployment “Operation: ‘Get Geraldo Killed’.”

Last year, Rivera went to New Orleans post-Katrina to cover the devastation and to perform his now famous “Moses of the Media“ one-man-show at the Louisiana Superdome.

Now, Geraldo has his new show, “Geraldo at Large.” What does the future hold for Rivera? I have one guess that would make for a fitting full-circle conclusion to Rivera’s career that the late great Rod Serling himself may enjoy.

Geraldo has said that if he ever sees Osama bin Laden, he’ll “shoot him myself.” We hope he does, but if the luck Geraldo’s had in the past continues, he’ll run into a cave with his gun cocked and loaded, and standing there holding the cash, guns and booze from Capone’s vault will stand bin Laden, laughing his ass off.

What does the future hold for Geraldo? The sky’s the limit


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Author: Doug Powers

Doug Powers is a writer, editor and commentator covering news of the day from a conservative viewpoint with an occasional shot of irreverence and a chaser of snark. Townhall Media writer/editor. alum. Bowling novice. Long-suffering Detroit Lions fan. Contact: