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HOME > Biographical > 100 New Yorkers of the 1970s > WESTSIDER GERALDO RIVERA
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Broadcaster, author and humanitarian


>From hundreds of local television stations across the nation, many personalities have risen up through the ranks to become national figures on network, but few have risen to far or so fast as Geraldo Rivera.

In 1969, the year he graduated from Brooklyn Law School, Rivera decided to become a poor people's lawyer, and over the next 12 months he took part in 50 trials, most of them in criminal courts. Then his career took an abrupt turn: in June 1970 he was offered a job at WABC-TV's Eyewitness News, and Rivera quickly accepted. His aggressive, probing style, matchless reportorial skills, and charismatic presence gained him the Associated Press' first-place citation as top newsman of 1971 — an award he received three more times in the next four years.

In 1975 he became the traveling co-host of Good Morning America on ABC network; in the 20 months that followed, his assignments took him to more than two dozen countries. Continuing his upward climb, he was next transferred to the ABC Evening News with Barbara Walters and Harry Reasoner. Finally in 1978, he was named to his present position — as special correspondent for 20/20, ABC's weekly hour-long news magazine show.

Over the past nine years, Rivera's special reports have earned him virtually all the major awards in broadcast journalism, including several Emmys. It was one of his earliest documentaries, however, that brought him the most recognition. Titled Willowbrook: The Last Great Disgrace, the 1972 expose focused on the conditions at Staten Island's Willowbrook institution for the mentally retarded. The broadcast resulted in an unprecedented response from viewers. So many offers of assistance poured in that Rivera was able to set up a national organization known as One to One, whose goal is to give ongoing, individualized attention to retarded persons. Since 1973, One to One has raised more than $2 million, and helped to build almost 60 group homes throughout the New York metropolitan area, each housing approximately 12 retarded persons of the same general age range.

On June 6 from 8 to 10:30 p.m., One to One will present a TV special that will combine top entertainment with personal accounts of retarded people, their parents, and the role of the media in helping to shape public awareness. The entertainers include Paul McCartney and Wings, Neil Sedaka, Debby Boone, Ed Asner, Angela Lansbury and the Captain & Tennille. Geraldo Rivera shares the emceeing chores with his ABC colleague John Johnson.

"The show wil............
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