- Rivers’ sister announced his death Wednesday on Facebook
- He broke barriers as Milwaukee’s first black television film critic
- Rivers then began hosting shows on VH1 and Food Network
Bobby Rivers, the famous film critic turned talk show host, has died at the age of 70.
Rivers broke barriers as Milwaukee’s first black film critic to have a regular presence on television, and he went on to have high-profile gigs on Food Network and VH1, including his self-titled talk show Watch Bobby Rivers .
WISN revealed that Rivers died Tuesday in Minneapolis.
His sister confirmed his death Wednesday in a Facebook post that was later deleted or made private, writing that “Bobby passed away last night and is no longer in pain,” via Variety.
The late host was honored on social media by his friends and admirers, including The View co-host Whoopi Goldberg, Katie Couric and Sex And The City’s Mario Cantone.
“Let’s all salute this pioneer Bobby Rivers…He brought SO much to the table. RIP Bobby,” Goldberg shared on Instagram alongside a years-old photo of her and Rivers beaming next to each other.
Couric wrote that she was “so sad to hear this” in a post on X (formerly known as Twitter).
“Bobby was a great guy and wonderfully warm, funny and intelligent,” she added.
Cantone’s post on X included a black and white photo of a young Rivers.
“Rest in peace Bobby. You were such a wonderful, intelligent and insightful man. We will miss you,” he shared.
Legendary Village Voice columnist Michael Must referenced Rivers’ status as an LGBTQ icon.
“Bobby Rivers was an openly gay pioneer. He was funny, campy, knowledgeable and revolutionary,” he exclaimed on social media.
Film critic Stephen Witty focused on Rivers’ history as a film critic while praising him for X.
“A mutual friend just told me @BobbyRiversTV has passed away. Bobby was a very funny and knowledgeable journalist, and a tireless advocate for greater diversity, particularly in the world of classic cinema,” he wrote.
Witty pointed to Rivers’ writings on “race and “It’s a Wonderful Life” as a “keeper,” adding, “I already miss him.”
Theater chain Turner Classic Movies tweeted: “We are saddened to learn of the passing of pioneering television personality Bobby Rivers.
“An enthusiastic and knowledgeable film buff at heart, he will be missed for sharing his love of classics with the #TCMParty community and his thoughtful essays on his blog.”
Rivers grew up in South Central Los Angeles and later attended Marquette University in Wisconsin.
He got his start in broadcasting at Milwaukee radio station WQFM, where he became a popular figure after establishing himself in a morning news spot.
He was fired from the station in 1978, only following three petitions signed by more than 1,000 people calling for his reinstatement, according to Variety.
Public support helped the rising host renegotiate his contract and return to the station for another year.
He became the first black film critic to have a regular television gig in Milwaukee in 1979 for WISN-TV, and he also contributed to the nationally syndicated PM magazine.
In 1984, he began co-hosting a daytime talk show on WISN, but it was canceled the following year.
He moved to VH1 in 1987 and made enough of an impression to get his own television show, Watch Bobby Rivers, in 1988.
The platform helped him interview some of the biggest music stars of the era, including Paul McCartney, as well as movie superstars like Meryl Streep and Mel Gibson.
Rivers also worked as a music video veejay with Rosie O’Donnell until 1990.
In the early 1990s, Rivers moved into entertainment reporting for several New York stations.
In 2000, he became the on-camera entertainment editor for ABC News and Lifetime TV’s Lifetime Live.
After the short-lived series was canceled, Rivers jumped to Food Network, where he hosted the show Top 5.
In 2011, he shared his love and knowledge of film and television on his blog Bobby Rivers TV.
Although Rivers is best known for his hosting work and reviews, he also had a small role on The Sopranos and The Onion News Network’s video podcast In the Know.
Gn En enter