Wednesday, April 21, 2021

This Day in TV History: Geraldo vs. Al Capone's Vault

35 years ago tonight, in a live television extravaganza, Geraldo Rivera explored the long-untouched vaults of notorious gangster Al Capone and found some dusty bottles. The flop was a huge embarrassment but a ratings success if a constant joke that followed Rivera around for years.

The Mystery of Al Capone's Vaults was a two-hour syndicated special that took viewers into the bowels of Chicago in search for Capone's lost treasures. A team of experts went in with Rivera, including personnel designed to deal with possible dead bodies! Tribune Entertainment distributed the show, and I remember my beloved Channel 11 in New York airing it. One of the producers was Doug Llewelyn from The People's Court.

For further reading, this Mental Floss oral history is fun, and Noel Murray provides perspective on the event at The AV Club. He references the Floss story and adds detail on Rivera's status at the time (looking for a comeback after a highly publicized exit from ABC) and the impact of the event.

Let's take this opportunity to squash one persistent but false rumor: This gentleman was not involved with this special in any way, shape, nor form:

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