Bobby Rivers, an acclaimed television host, radio personality and actor, has died at the age of 70. His death was announced by Milwaukee’s WISN 12 news station, where Rivers became the city’s first Black film critic on television in 1979. In the post, updated Wednesday, the outlet added that the Marquette University graduate “also contributed segments for the nationally syndicated PM Magazine, which he said helped Milwaukee go beyond stereotypes.”
His sister, Betsy Rivers, confirmed his death on Facebook Wednesday, writing, “Bobby passed away last night and is no longer in any pain.”
He also served as the host of Food Network’s Top 5 and VH1’s celebrity talk show Watch Bobby Rivers. Tributes from industry peers poured in following the news of the Los Angeles native’s death, includign Whoopi Goldberg and Katie Couric, who mourned the passing of their fellow TV host.
“All hail this pioneer Bobby Rivers… He brought SO much to the table. R I P Bobby,” The View cohost, 68, shared on Instagram with a photo of the two smiling together. “I am so sad to hear this. Bobby was a terrific guy and wonderfully warm, funny and smart,” the former Today cohost, 66, wrote on X.
Sex and the City actor Mario Cantone shared a black-and-white photo on X (formerly known as Twitter) of the journalist in his younger days. “Rest in peace Bobby. You were such a wonderful supportive intelligent insightful man. You will be missed,” the tweet read. Turner Classic Movies remembered Rivers’ impact as well.
“We are saddened to hear about the passing of trailblazing television personality Bobby Rivers,” the network said on X of the critic. “An enthusiastic and knowledgeable film fan at heart, we will miss him sharing his love of the classics with the #TCMParty community and his thoughtful essays on his blog.”
Milwaukee native and Fox 6 reporter Gino Salomone shared a special tribute to his late peer.
“Sorry to hear of the passing of #BobbyRivers His razor sharp wit and ability to come up with questions that celebrities had never heard before set him apart. One of the first African Americans to have his own show, Watch Bobby Rivers on VH1. He will be missed,” he tweeted.
According to WISN 12, Wisconsin LGBTQ History Project had interviewed Bobby earlier this year. The organization thanked him for his contributions.
“2023 has been a cruel, cruel year. Today, we say goodbye to Bobby Rivers (1953-2023.) We raise a martini to a pioneer who unapologetically broke all the rules — so that he (and we) could ALL #BeSeen. Thank you, Bobby, for everything,” the group’s tweet read.
A cause of death has not yet been announced.
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