Bobby Rivers Death: Trailblazing TV Host and Film Critic, Dies at 70

Bobby Rivers Death

Bobby Rivers, a charismatic and humorous TV host and film critic who broke barriers as one of America’s first black and openly homosexual television stars, died on December 26, 2023, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was seventy years old.

A Pioneer in Entertainment Journalism

Rivers began his career as a radio DJ and film critic for WISN-TV in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he graduated from Marquette University and became the city’s first Black televised film critic.

In 1985, he relocated to New York City and began working as a VJ for VH1, where he quickly received his own celebrity chat program, Watch Bobby Rivers. With his characteristic wit and charm, he interviewed some of the biggest stars of the period, including Paul McCartney, Meryl Streep, Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, and Liza Minnelli.

He was also a regular contributor to WPIX-TV, WNBC-TV, and WNYW-TV and presented two syndicated game shows, Bedroom Buddies and Trivia Track.

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A Versatile and Talented Performer

Rivers was a competent interviewer and reporter, as well as an actor and performer. He appeared in various theater productions, including The Wiz, Dreamgirls, and The Rocky Horror Show.

He also appeared as himself in the hit HBO series The Sopranos. He was the entertainment editor and co-host of Lifetime Live, an ABC News and Lifetime TV weekday magazine show where he collaborated with Deborah Roberts and the late Dana Reeve. He also hosted Top 5, a Food Network show that ranked various food-related issues.

A Beloved and Respected Figure

His contemporaries and admirers universally admired and revered Rivers’ professionalism, charisma, and fearlessness.

In the 1980s and 1990s, he was one of the few openly gay celebrities, and he frequently utilized his platform to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and visibility. He was also a mentor and friend to many young and aspiring journalists and entertainers, particularly those of color who identified as queer.

For his efforts, he garnered various prizes and distinctions, including a GLAAD Media Award, a CableACE Award, and a New York Emmy Award.

Rivers’ sister, Barbara, and nephew, Michael, survive him. His family, friends, coworkers, and admirers will all miss him terribly. In the entertainment world, he will be remembered as a trailblazer, a pioneer, and a legend.

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