Emmy-Winning Univision Host Raul De Molina Pays Tribute to Joan Rivers for Starting His TV Career

Joan Rivers ABC - H 2014
AP Images/Invision

Joan Rivers ABC - H 2014

He appeared on 'The Joan Rivers Show' when he was a paparazzo

Raul De Molina, the co-host of Univision's talk show hit El Gordo y la Flaca, credits Joan Rivers with more than an acerbic wit and a tantalizing style of covering red carpets. He credits her with launching his television career.

"The reason that I'm on TV and have been on TV for over 23 years is because of Joan Rivers," he tells The Hollywood Reporter.

The comedienne, who died Thursday at 81, had De Molina on The Joan Rivers Show when he was a paparazzoHe remembers being invited to chat about his photography of Delta Burke's 1989 wedding, including a shot he'd snapped from a police car while being escorted from the event.

Rivers asked him how he knew he'd gotten a photograph of Burke. "I said, 'I didn't. I thought I might have gotten this white tent. Finally I realized it was not a white tent. It was Delta Burke's wedding dress,'" he recalls. "And Joan started laughing."

Rivers herself was one celebrity he couldn't manage to photograph, he says. Immediately after shooting the show," she would say, 'I'm sorry, guys. I have to go to Atlantic City!'" he remembers. "I would say, 'She's leaving so fast I didn't even have a chance to get a photograph with her!'"

His appearances on The Joan Rivers Show, which ran from 1989 to 1993 and won Rivers a Daytime Emmy, brought him to the attention of Spanish-language programs. That turned into co-hosting El Gordo y la Flaca (he's "El Gordo"), which airs weekdays and will hit its 16th anniversary this month. His work on other television has won him three Suncoast Regional Emmys.

His hosting is indebted to Rivers — "there was nobody better" at interviewing celebrities with comedic flair, he says — as is his red carpet coverage of events such as the Latin Grammys. "I ask them questions that nobody else asks, but I do so with a smile on my face, so it's hard for them to get angry," he says. "I think its exactly the same thing she does."

He only met Rivers once after appearing on The Joan Rivers Show, backstage at one of her stand-up performances in Miami. "I said, 'I was on your show!' and she said, 'Oh, yeah, I remember,'" De Molina recalls. His wife had surprised him with tickets to the performance for his birthday. "She knew how big a part Joan Rivers was in my life," he says.

Email: Austin.Siegemund-Broka@THR.com
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