Bobby Rivers, a distinguished figure in entertainment journalism renowned for his insightful movie critiques and charismatic hosting on the Food Network and VH1, has passed away at the age of 70. His death was confirmed on Tuesday, December 26, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, leaving a legacy of groundbreaking work in television and film criticism.
A graduate of Marquette University in the 1970s, Rivers broke barriers as Milwaukee's first African American film critic on television in 1979. His career trajectory saw him ascend to national fame, hosting shows such as VH1's "Watch Bobby Rivers" and the Food Network's "Top 5".
His tenure at VH1 in the late 1980s was marked by memorable interviews with luminaries like Paul McCartney, Meryl Streep, and Mel Gibson. Rivers' journey through the world of entertainment didn’t stop at hosting and critiquing.
He also made notable appearances in popular TV shows including "The Equalizer", "The Sopranos", and contributed to "The Onion News Network's" video podcast "In the Know", according to his IMDB profile.
Industry Mourns Rivers
The news of Rivers' passing has sparked an outpouring of tributes from colleagues and fans alike.
Many remember him as a trailblazer and a vibrant presence in the industry. Writer Gregory G. Allen, a close friend of Rivers, expressed his grief on Facebook, highlighting Rivers' exceptional qualities as a person - his humor, kindness, and encyclopedic knowledge of film and TV.
Allen reminisced about their decade-long friendship, shared projects, and the unfinished book they planned to publish together, describing Rivers as a "warm, wonderful man." Film critic Stephen Whitty also shared his condolences on Twitter, acknowledging Rivers' humor, expertise, and advocacy for diversity in classic film criticism.
He mentioned Rivers' significant work on racial themes in cinema, particularly citing his analysis of "It’s a Wonderful Life." Rivers' early work at WISN, a Wisconsin television station, laid the foundation for a career that would make him a beloved and influential figure in entertainment journalism.
His sister, Betsy Rivers, confirmed his passing in a Facebook post, stating, "Bobby passed away last night and is no longer in any pain," a sentiment echoing the thoughts of many who knew him as a bright, pioneering spirit in the industry.
Rivers' legacy endures, remembered for his contributions to journalism, television, and the diversity he championed throughout his career.