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Geraldo Rivera Struck Out with Al Capone's Vault 35 Years Ago Today

  • On April 21, 1986, Geraldo Rivera hosted a hugely-publicized, hugely-rated live syndicated event entitled The Mystery of Al Capone's Vaults. Rivera and a crew of workers broke into a secret vault underneath Chicago's Lexington Hotel, where the famous gangster used to run his criminal organization, in hopes of finding a stash of his ill-gotten gains or maybe even dead bodies. Famously, the two-hour special wound up uncovering virtually nothing.

    In this clip from the end of the special, Rivera sheepishly admits "It seems, at least up to now, that we struck out with the vault. I'm disappointed about that, as I'm sure you are. This is one time in my life that a pot of gold would have been a lot more fun than chasing the rainbows." He also half-heartedly held up his promise to his critics to sing a song if he didn't find anything, tossing off the first line of Frank Sinatra's "Chicago." Years later, Rivera claimed that once the show was over, he immediately went across the street and got "tequila drunk" before retreating to his hotel room and putting a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door.

    Rivera had recently been fired from ABC for bad-mouthing the network after its news division had quashed his colleague Sylvia Chase's report on the affair between John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, but this stunt raised his profile due to the audience of approximately 30 milliion viewers watching his failure. The next year, he started up his infamous daytime tabloid talk show that would see him get embarrassed further in 1988 when he was hit in the face with a chair, suffering a broken nose during an on-set brawl between white supremacists and black and Jewish activists — another humiliation that spiked his ratings.

    Andy Hunsaker has a head full of sitcom gags and nerd-genre lore, and can be followed @AndyHunsaker if you're into that sort of thing.

    TOPICS: Geraldo Rivera, The Mystery of Al Capone's Vaults