Forty years of investigative journalism doesn’t come without its rewards. In the case of Geraldo Rivera, those rewards come in the form of a net worth that might leave some of his colleagues at Fox a little green around the gills. These days, the 77-year-old New York native is worth an astonishing $20 million. How’d he make it? Prepare to find out.
Who is Geraldo Rivera?
Before we get too caught up in the how’s and why’s of Rivera’s fortune, a quick word about the man himself. For those who never caught his talk show, Rivera is the former host of “Geraldo at Large.” Even if you did manage to catch an episode or two, you might not be familiar with the length and breadth of what turns out to be a very long (not to mention, varied) career. We’ll get into the detail in a little more depth shortly, but as a quick synopsis, Rivera is (or at some point, has been) an attorney, a journalist, an author, a political commentator, and a talk show host. His rise to fame came with the tabloid talk show “Geraldo” and the TV special “The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults.” Having found fame, he clung to it with the news magazine program “Geraldo at Large.” These days, he still regularly pops up on our screens in the likes of “The Five” on Fox.
So, we know who Rivera is, but how exactly did he get to be famous, let alone accrue such a vast wealth? To find out, we’d have to revisit his early years. Born to a Puerto Rican father and a mother of Russian descent, Rivera was raised in Brooklyn and West Babylon, New York. After high school, he spent 2 years at the State University of New York Maritime College before completing his business administration degree at the University of Arizona. After graduating, he spent a couple of years taking any job he could before returning to school to complete his J.D. With his law degree in hand, Rivera quickly began attracting attention for his work with the Puerto Rican activist group, the Young Lords. In 1969, WABC-TV interviewed him about the group’s occupation of a church in East Harlem. Impressed by his screen presence, the network’s news director, Al Primo, offered him a job as a reporter.
From Attorney to Reporter
Rivera’s transition from attorney to reporter couldn’t have gone better. Within just two years, he’d won a Peabody Award and national acclaim for his report on allegations of abuse at Staten Island’s Willowbrook State School. Regular appearances on ABC programs like “20/20” and “Nightline” followed, as did a hosting job on the late-night news magazine “Good Night America.” Over the next decade, Rivera became known for breaking new ground with his news reports. In addition to tackling topical issues like marijuana use and draft dodgers during the Vietnam War, he became the first reporter on TV in the 1980s to mention “AIDS” by name. In 1985, a bust-up with ABC’s Roona Arledge over his decision to pull a report on the relationship between Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy led to Rivera getting fired from ABC. It was by no means the last we’d see of him.
Talk Show Host
Rivera’s reluctance to keep his opinions to himself may have put an end to his career as a reporter at ABC, but it would go on to prove his making at Fox. In 1987, he was offered the opportunity to host and produce his own talk show on the network. “Geraldo” ran for a total of 11 years, earning a reputation for its diverse (and divisive) range of guests and subject matters. From 1994 to 2001, Rivera also hosted the weeknight CBBC news and interview show “Rivera Live.” Since then, he’s served as a Fox News war correspondent during the Iraq War; as a weekday radio talk show host on WABC (770 AM) and KABC (790 AM); as the host of the talk show “Geraldo at Large”; as a regular commentator on the Fox News Channel; and as a contest on both the 22nd season of Dancing With the Stars and the 14th season of The Celebrity Apprentice.
While Rivera may be best known for his broadcasting career, he’s also achieved considerable success as an author. According to Wikipedia, his catalog of work extends to include:
- “Willowbrook: A report on how it is and why it doesn’t have to be that way.” (1972)
- “Miguel Robles—So Far.” (1973)
- “Puerto Rico: Island of Contrasts.” (1973)
- “A Special Kind of Courage: Profiles of young Americans.” (1977)
- “Exposing Myself.” (1992)
- “HisPanic: Why Americans fear Hispanics in the U. S.” (2008)
- “The Great Progression: How Hispanics Will Lead America to a New Era of Prosperity.” (2009)
- “The Geraldo Show, A Memoir.” (2018)
Rivera’s personal life has been almost as busy as his professional one. To date, Rivera has been married a total of 5 times. The current Mrs. Rivera is Erica Michelle Levy, who he married in 2003. They share one daughter together, although Rivera also has four other children from his previous marriages. According to Celebrity Net Worth, the couple has something of a real estate habit: in 2015, they splashed out $5.6 million on an apartment in New York, only to sell it the following year for $6.1 million. That same year, they made a small profit on another apartment they owned in the same building. In 2017, the couple returned to Erica’s hometown of Cleveland where they stumped up $2.8 million on a 13,000 square foot mansion that sits on what The Daily Mail calls “one of the truly iconic estates in Shaker Heights.” They also own a waterfront home in Edgewater, New Jersey.
Whether Rivera’s often controversial antics float your boat or not, there’s no denying the fact he’s had an extremely long, extremely prolific career on TV and radio. For the past 40 years, he’s been a regular face on our screens, not to mention a constant presence on some of our bookshelves. As his fame increased during the 1980s and 1990s, so too did his paychecks. At the age of 77, he’s still pulling in the jobs, still making controversies, and still bringing home the bacon. Hardly surprising then, that his fortune is as big as it is.