Bobby Rivers Dies: Film Critic and Food Network Host Was 70

Bobby Rivers (Credit: IMDb)

Bobby Rivers, a film critic and host of shows on VH1 and the Food Network, has died. He was 70.

Rivers passed away on Tuesday, Dec. 26, at a hospital in Minneapolis, his sister Betsy Rivers told The Hollywood Reporter. He had been battling lung cancer and suffered a series of mini-strokes, she said.

Milwaukee news station WISN 12, where Rivers worked early in his career, also announced his death.

Rivers graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee in the 1970s, and joined WISN 12 in 1979 as the city’s first Black film critic on television.

He had a long career in front of the camera. He moved to New York City in the 1980s, and worked as an entertainment reporter for WPIX-TV. Rivers also hosted the Top 5 program on the Food Network, and the primetime celebrity talk show Watch Bobby Rivers on VH1.

Rivers went on to host the syndicated game show Bedroom Buddies. He worked as a lifestyle/entertainment reporter at WNBC-TV and WNYW-TV, and reviewed films for Whoopi Goldberg’s national radio show from 2006-08.

Goldberg posted a tribute to Rivers on Instagram, writing: “All hail this pioneer Bobby Rivers… He brought so much to the table. RIP Bobby.”

Turner Classic Movies also remembered him on social media.

“We are saddened to hear about the passing of trailblazing television personality Bobby Rivers,” TCM posted on X/Twitter. “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.”

According to WISN 12, the Wisconsin LGBTQ History Project interviewed Rivers earlier this year. The organization posted a tribute to Rivers on its website, describing him as “Milwaukee’s queer media pioneer.”

Rivers was born in 1953, and grew up in Los Angeles. He is survived by his sister and his brother, Tony.