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Geraldo Rivera: 10 Things You Didn't Know About Him

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 03/28/2012 10:43 am Updated: 03/28/2012 5:04 pm

Geraldo Rivera

Fox News journalist Geraldo Rivera sparked outrage this week after he made controversial comments about slain teenager Trayvon Martin’s death.

On Friday, Rivera made headlines when he suggested that Martin, who was unarmed when he was shot dead by self-appointed neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, was partially responsible for his own death because he was wearing a hoodie when killed.

"I'll bet you money, if he didn't have that hoodie on, that nutty neighborhood watch guy wouldn't have responded in that violent and aggressive way," Rivera said.

“I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was,” Rivera said on Fox & Friends.

But this isn’t the first time the half-Puerto Rican journalist finds himself in hot water.

In 1986, Rivera shot a two-hour special broadcast, "The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults,” which got a lot of attention and was one of the biggest disappointments in television history.

When he finally opened the infamous gangster's secret vault, there were only empty bottles and dirt. Now, the failed stunt became a pop culture landmark, and “Al Capone’s vault” is now synonymous for a heavily hyped event that amounts to absolutely nothing, according to Politico.com.

In 2001, while in Afghanistan, Rivera claimed in a Dec. 6 dispatch to have choked up after saying the Lord's Prayer over the "hallowed ground" in Afghanistan where "friendly fire took so many of our, our men and the mujahedeen yesterday", according to The Baltimore Sun, who first reported Rivera was actually hundreds of miles away from the friendly fire incident.

Fox News Channel claims it was an honest mistake.

How Rivera could have blamed the “fog of war” for an event near Kandahar with one where he actually was in Tora Bora is beyond us, especially since the Tora Bora incident occurred three days after Rivera’s report.

One thing is for sure, Geraldo Rivera's "mistakes" and mishaps definitely bring in the crowd.

Here are ten things you didn’t know about controversial journalist Geraldo Rivera:

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  • He Found Nothing

    In Rivera's "The Mystery of Al Capone's Vaults," special broadcast he went on the hunt for the infamous gangster's treasure only to come up very short with a bunch of dirt and empty bottles. The special received a lot of attention and was one of the biggest disappointments in television history.

  • He Has Been Attacked

    During a 1988 taping of his show, a brawl erupted between John Metzger, a 20-year-old guest representing the White Aryan Resistance Youth, and Roy Innis, the chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality. Rivera, who got involved in the scuffle, was hit in the shoulder with a chair and then punched in the nose. <a href="http://gawker.com/5655245/geraldo-rivera" target="_hplink">The rumble left Geraldo with a broken nose.</a>

  • He Has Claimed To Be 'On The Scene'

    In 2001, while in Afghanistan, Rivera claimed in a Dec. 6 dispatch to have choked up after saying the Lord's Prayer over the "hallowed ground" in Afghanistan where "friendly fire took so many of our, our men and the mujahedeen yesterday", <a href="http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2001-12-15/features/0112150161_1_geraldo-rivera-tora-friendly-fire" target="_hplink">according to The Baltimore Sun</a>, who first reported Rivera was actually hundreds of miles away from the friendly fire incident. Fox News Channel claims it was<a href="http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2001-12-27/features/0112270154_1_geraldo-rivera-friendly-fire-honest-mistake" target="_hplink"> an honest mistake</a>.

  • He Has Gotten A Face Lift

    There's never a dull moment when it comes to Geraldo Rivera and that was especially true in <a href="http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20143711,00.html" target="_hplink">1992 when the journalist submitted to a facelift in front of a studio audience.</a> Fat from his rear end was used to fill in wrinkles on his face.

  • He Has Been Kicked Out Of Iraq

    In 2003, Rivera, who was traveling with the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq, was <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2003/mar/31/Iraqandthemedia.broadcasting1" target="_hplink">de-accredited by the U.S. military</a> for reporting on the position and movements of United States troops and compromising "operational security."

  • He Changed His Name

    Geraldo's father's last name was Rivera, but his mother put down the name "Riviera" on his birth certificate because it sounded less Hispanic. <a href="http://gawker.com/5655245/geraldo-rivera" target="_hplink">She also gave him the first name Gerald - not Geraldo.</a> But Gerald changed his name to Geraldo in the late '60s after a news director at WABC suggested a more ethnic-sounding name would be a plus.

  • He's On His Fifth Marriage

    Rivera <a href="http://gawker.com/5655245/geraldo-rivera" target="_hplink">has been married five times in four decades!</a> In 1965, he married Linda Coblentz. After they divorced, he married Edith Vonnegut in 1971 and a year later, he married Sherryl Raymond. Fifteen years later, Geraldo married C.C. Dayer in 1987, but that relationship ended in 2000. In 2003, Rivera tied the knot for the fifth time with one of his employees, Erica Levy, who is 32 years his junior.

  • He's A Self-Proclaimed Ladies Man

    In his 1991 autobiography entitled "Exposing Myself," Rivera wrote that his policy with women was to keep "one steady and one on the side." The self-proclaimed ladies man - who later called the book "the colossal error" of his adult life- <a href="http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20143711,00.html" target="_hplink">also claimed to have had flings, flirtations or affairs with Bette Middler, Liza Minnelli, and Marian Javits</a>, as well as countless production assistants and groupies.

  • He's Jewish

    Many people know that Geraldo's father is of Puerto Rican descent, but not everyone knows that his mother, Lilly Friedman, is Jewish. Orthodox Judaism holds that the faith is carried down through <em>matrilineality</em>, meaning anyone born to a Jewish mother are themselves Jewish. However, matrilineality is still contested in the greater Jewish community. Geraldo says he was raised <a href="http://www.wnd.com/2006/03/35052/" target="_hplink">"mostly Jewish" and had a bar mitzvah as a boy.</a>

  • He Has Helped Others

    In 1972, WABC-TV sent Geraldo to Staten Island <a href="http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20143711,00.html" target="_hplink"> to infiltrate the Willowbrooke State School (a Staten Island, N.Y., mental hospital). </a>What Rivera uncovered at Willowbrook won him the Peabody Award, but more importantly, his expose on the degrading conditions children lived in at the mental hospital led to an immediate government inquiry. Willowbrook closed its doors in 1987.

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