Food Network host Bobby Rivers dies at 70

 December 29, 2023

Bobby Rivers, the well-known host for Food Network and VH1, has died at the age of 70. 

Rivers' passing was first announced by the local Milwaukee outlet WISN 12. Rivers does have a connection to the outlet. It is where he, in 1979, became the city's first Black film critic on television.

Then, Rivers' sister, Betsy Rivers, confirmed Rivers' passing in a Facebook post, writing, "Bobby passed away last night and is no longer in any pain."

Betsy Rivers has further revealed to Fox News Digital the cause of her brother's passing - or at least two of the factors that contributed to his death, namely cancer and strokes. Betsy Rivers told the outlet that her brother's "cancer had spread to his lungs" and that "he suffered a few mini strokes, according to the MRI."

Who was Bobby Rivers?

As mentioned at the outset, Rivers is probably most well-known for his hosting gigs on VH1 and Food Network. On VH1, Rivers hosted Watch Bobby Rivers and, on Food Network, he hosted Top 5. He also hosted the late-night dating show Bedroom Buddies. 

Rivers's career, however, started in journalism, specifically with the Wisconsin television station referred to above - WISN. There, he became the city's first Black film critic on television.

According to the New York PostRivers was heralded as "Milwaukee's Black, queer media pioneer" by Our Lives Wisconsin, an LGBTQ news outlet in Wisconsin. Rivers did once reveal that he often faced racist and homophobic attacks, according to The Post. He, nonetheless, remained a strong advocate for LGBTQ rights throughout his life.

Rivers has several other television credits to his name, in addition to those listed above.

These include credits for The Equalizer, The Sopranos, and In the Know. 


Following the news of his passing, many in the television industry have taken to social media to offer tributes to Rivers.

Among those to do so was actress and The View cohost Whoopi Goldberg. Goldberg posted an Instagram post in which she wrote, "All hail this pioneer Bobby Rivers…He brought SO much to the table. R I P Bobby." Goldberg included, with the post, a photograph of herself with Rivers.

Katie Couric also posted a tribute to Rivers via her X account. She wrote, "I am so sad to hear this. Bobby was a terrific guy and wonderfully warm, funny, and smart."

Rivers is survived by his sister, Betsy Rivers, and his brother, Tony Rivers.

At the time of this writing, funeral arrangements, for Rivers, have yet to be announced.

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