Geraldo's moms tell all!
No, this isn't the topic du jour of a talk show about the flamboyant Geraldo Rivera. These revelations were gathered like sea shells from a sunny morning visit to the condos of Lilly Friedman Rivera (the mother of Geraldo) and Peg Dyer (mother-in-law No. 4). Both in their 70s, they live about a mile apart on this exclusive island adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico.Lilly, a pleasant woman, sits on her patio and chats about Geraldo with great ease and candor, and then shows off a condo full of photographs of her five children and grandchildren. Peg, fresh out of a shower after a vigorous game of tennis, conducts her interview during a walking tour of the beautiful compound where she lives, breaking off a gardenia to hand to her guest at the conclusion of the visit.
The two don't see each other daily, but they express fondness for one another. Lilly says of all the mother-in-laws Geraldo has brought into her life, she likes Peg best. Peg adds, "Lillian is a sitter; I'm a doer," and that's the only reason they don't get together more often. But when the talk show host is in town, dinner plans always include these two caring women in Geraldo's life.
Here's the scoop on TV's own prodigal son from the women who know the incorrigible Geraldo best:
Rivera's nose smashed by wife!!! That broken nose incident when Rivera got bopped with a flying chair in November 1988 during a fracas between white supremacists and studio guests may have drawn big ratings and lots of media attention, including a Newsweek cover picture showing his schnoz covered with gauze bandages. But Lilly can one-up that story.
Lilly discloses, "His wife broke it again during racquet ball. They were playing and she swung too hard. So Geraldo said, `This is the way it's going to be, let it be.' So he didn't get it fixed again."
Gerald undergoes a name change operation!!! Born 47 years ago on the Lower East Side to a Puerto Rican father, Cruz Rivera, and the Jewish Lilly, Geraldo's real name is plain ol' Gerald; his school chums called him Gerry.
Lilly explains that when her son joined Eyewitness News at WABC-TV in New York in 1970: "He said, `Mom, nobody will remember Gerald. I'm going to give it the Spanish pronunciation, Geraldo. They'll remember that.' Believe me, they did."
The heartbreak of single women dating married men. Playboy Geraldo met wife No. 4 when he was married to wife No. 3. He's sweet on producers.
His third wife was ABC producer Sheri Raymond, and they have a son, Gabriel Miguel Rivera, now 11. His fourth and current is C.C. (stands for Cynthia Crookshank, Peg's maiden name), whom he married in 1987. C.C. worked on ABC's 20/20.
C.C.'s mom, Peg, provides the dirt: "He and my daughter fell in love many years ago, when they were working at 20/20 (he left ABC in 1985 after 15 years, following a protracted tiff with the network). I thought it was leading to something, so I told her, `Don't get involved with a man who's still married.' She was hurt plenty during their courtship, but C.C. didn't come crying around or see a therapist. She handled it. She has a great bravado and strength equal to him. So she can handle him."
I want Geraldo's baby!!! Geraldo recently bought The Two River Times, a newspaper where he lives in Red Bank, N.J. The media quickly dubbed him, "Citizen Rivera." His byline and photo are splashed all over the seven-column-wide weekly.
Rivera said that he purchased the newspaper because, "I have no desire to grow old on television," he told the New York Post. So he wants to make his mark in print journalism.
But the real reason, agreed the moms, is so C.C., 34, can start a family, run the newspaper and not commute into the studio anymore as a producer of Geraldo.
But alas, no child has thus far been conceived that Peg and Lilly know of. "They've had hardships," sighs Peg, "because of wanting to have a baby. C.C.'s brothers and sisters breed like rabbits and her mother certainly had no trouble." Peg, like Lilly, also has five children.
When asked if they were still trying, Lilly smiles and says, "As far as I know."
Geraldo goes straight - to moms for advice. After broadcasting an endless stream of schlock and shock, Gerald, er, Geraldo, decided last year he'd done enough of the stories about topless doughnut shops, teen-age prostitutes, nyphomaniacs and the men of Chippendale's.
In a widely touted image change, the new Geraldo, declared Newsday, is "at times serious-minded, wholesome, prosaic and even dull." A show last week reunited Geraldo with the pretty cherleader he had taken to the prom in 1961, back when he was called Gerry.
Peg says, "I don't care for menage a trois (as a show topic). He's best with news reports. I tell him that all the time. I say, 'Geraldo, I hate that junk.' I know there's a seamy side of life, but I don't want to hear about it."
"When I read about his `sleazy' show," adds Lilly, "I get so angry. Donahue's doing the same thing right now, so's Oprah. So why don't they (the media) call their shows `sleazy'? It's just that they have given him a reputation and he's really outgrown it. Give him the credit now."
A man in a bushy moustache only a mother could love. Critics sneered in 1986 when the highly theatrical Geraldo opened Al Capone's vault - live - only to find dusty bottles instead of secret treasures. Then the public was outraged when his special "American Vice: The Doping of America" put live drug busts on the air, showing those involved on TV before their guilt was legally established. After that, he almost self-destructed when his talk show, launched in 1987, ravaged the airwaves with garbage. Advertisers pulled their commercials, and stations carrying the show protested.
"I watch the show all the time," says Lilly proudly. "I check to see if he has circles under his eyes. I check his haircut."
King of TV tabloid talk shows - shut up, already. Lilly describes herself as a quiet person. Still, she has no problem bragging about her son to her buddies in the butterscotch-stucco building where she lives. The one problem she does have with rapid-fire Geraldo is keeping up with him in conversation.
"I talk slowly on the phone," she says, "and he talks . . . (she snaps her fingers). I say, `Geraldo, give me a break. Let me get my thoughts here.' "
Geraldo hates pests. Sensational-style reporter Geraldo was tied up for almost a decade in a lawsuit where a woman he interviewed for 20/20 sued because a hidden TV camera and recorder were used without her permission (the case was dismissed).
What's Geraldo really like? "He always has patience and time for his family," says mother-in-law No. 4.
But Geraldo's mom can't resist griping mildly. "He was always pushing for everything as a child. I had to lay it on the line when we disagreed, and say, 'Look, I'm your mother'," recalls Lilly sternly.
Then she relaxes, and adds with a smile, "I have to express myself. When I don't think he's taking my advice, suddenly on one of his shows, he'll say, `My mom said this.' "
Lilly's face breaks into a smile and she says with great satisfaction, "So he is listening."