Raul De Molina has been a fixture on television for almost three decades. He is a time honored veteran of red carpet reporting at the Latin Grammy Awards, a host of Times Square’s New Year’s Eve Ball Drop, a guest judge on Iron Chef America and most famously – a co-host of Univision’s hit entertainment talk show, ‘El Gordo y la Flaca.’
For 21 years, devotees of the show have faithfully tuned in five day a week to watch the lovable host along with his with his glamorous co-star Lili Estefan energetically regale viewers with the latest headlines from the celebrity entertainment industry.
Though long before Raul De Molina became one of the most recognizable faces on television, he worked as an award winning photo journalist throughout Miami during a time when celebrity glamour clashed against the backdrop of a city steeped in racial tension, riots, violence and drug trafficking.
Italian film actress Sophia Loren at a gala on Williams Island, Miami, where she served as the spokeswoman for a luxury resort opening. For many years, Sophia Loren along with her producer husband Carlo Ponti lived in a secluded home on Williams Island in South Florida to raise their children
American boxing legend Muhammad Ali gets his gloves fitted ahead of a match at Miami’s legendary 5th Street Gym. ‘At that point it was almost at the end of his career in the 1980s because he was going to retire, but to me that’s one of my favorite photographs,’ said De Molina to DailyMail.com. The 5th Street Gym became a world-wide boxing attraction thanks its famous owner and trainer Chris Dundee, who turned Carmen Basilio, Willie Pastrano, Sonny Liston and Muhammad Ali into champion fighters
Princess Diana soaks up the sun with a young Prince Harry on Sir Richard Branson’s private Caribbean retreat: Necker Island. De Molina was on assignment for The National Enquirer when he took this shot
Michael Jackson performing at his Victory Tour at the Miami Orange Bowl, 1984
De Molina’s interest in photography started young after his mother purchased his first camera for a trip to Paris when he was 13- years-old. They were living in Spain at the time where they had fled from Cuba just a few years before. When De Molina was 10-years-old, his father was imprisoned by Fidel Castro for allegedly working as a spy with the CIA.
‘I always loved photography so when I was 16-years-old and moved to the United States for high school, I already knew how to take pictures. So I started taking them for the yearbook and the newspaper,’ said De Molina to Dailymail.com.
Upon graduating from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale with a degree in art and photography in the 1980s; De Molina snagged a job as a freelance photographer for the Associated Press. The AP became a stepping stone to other news outlets insatiable for De Molina’s keen eye like Time, Newsweek, USA Today, The Chicago Tribune and U.S. News & World Report.
He was sent all over the Caribbean and South America on assignment. ‘I probably went to Haiti 25 times,’ said De Molina. He covered countless hurricanes, the assassination of Colombian presidential candidate, Bernardo Jaramillo and the U.S. invasion of Panama and the removal of Manuel Noriega from power. He was also one of the only reporters able to get into Trinidad and Tobago when the Jamaat al Muslimeen staged a violent yet unsuccessful coup d’etat.
President George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States fly fishing in South Florida after his 1989 Presidential win. De Molina was on assignment for the Associated Press when he captured this shot of President Bush bonefishing while visiting a friend in Palm Beach, Florida. ‘That picture was widely published and I won an award for Best News Photography of the Year at the National Association on Hispanic Journalists in Washington D.C.’ said De Molina
Actor and boxer Mickey Rourke heading to the boxing ring at the Miami Beach Convention Center. At the height of his Hollywood fame in 1991, Mickey Rourke, left acting to pursue a career in professional boxing because he said that he: ‘was self-destructing … and had no respect for himself as an actor’
De Molina was working as a pool photographer for the Associated Press when Pope John Paul II visited Miami in 1987
At the height of Miami Vice the television show, De Molina snapped this picture of Miami’s real undercover police detectives. He said: ‘They were in plain clothes. They don’t look like police officers, they were undercover officers and I got them in front of the Port of Miami where there is a bridge that faces the skyline.’ He continued: ‘This is also one of my favorite photographs’
At the same time, De Molina trawled around Miami when the city descended into riots after four white police officers were acquitted of all charges for the senseless death of Arthur McDuffie, an African- American salesman and former Marine who was a victim of police brutality. De Molina patrolled the city in the grips of a drug war, often wearing a bullet proof vest while snapping photos that would accommodate front page headlines.
‘Miami, especially in the late ’70s and early ’80s, was very dangerous,’ said De Molina to Dailymail.com ‘There were a lot of drug deals were going bad, people were being shot, riots were all over the city.’
‘On the other hand, the Miami Dolphins – which is the football team, was doing great. They were on their way to the Super Bowl and the University of Miami won the National Champions more than once so it was a very colorful time in the city of Miami,’ said De Molina.
It was during this time that De Molina also started working as a paparazzi for the National Enquirer, covering events like the first time Princess Caroline was seen in public after the tragic death of her husband in a boating accident, or the time Princess Diana visited Sir Richard Branson’s private island in the Caribbean.
TJ Albert takes three seats on a Bahamas Air flight departing from Miami International Airport, at the time Albert was known as the largest man in the world at 898 pounds
De Molina snapped this rare photo of a U.S. Army soldier in the office of Panamanian politician, Manuel Noriega’s after he was removed from office
Miami child learning how to shoot a pistol in the Tamiami Miami neighborhood, 1988
Gloria and Emilio Estefan at the entrance of their home on Star Island. Raul De Molina co-hosts El Gordo y la Flaca on Univision with Lili Estefan who is the niece of Gloria and Emilio. ‘She’s an icon in Miami,’ said De Molina
The distraught wife of a police shooting victim. ‘The city in the late seventies and early eighties was especially dangerous, there were lots of drug deals going bad, people being shot and riots throughout Miami,’ explained De Molina to DailyMail.com
‘I started doing paparazzi because those pictures paid a lot better but I also liked doing those assignments because I was sent all over the Caribbean,’ he explained. But as it would turn out, these assignments would be kismet for De Molina.
The National Enquirer recommended De Molina to various television producers who were looking for somebody to appear in short celebrity driven segments on Geraldo Rivera, Maury Povich and Joan Rivers. This inevitably got De Molina noticed by somebody at Telemundo – one segment turned into two, which turned into three and eventually he had his own show on Univision. El Gordo y la Flaca aired its first episode in 1998 and since then it has dominated the ratings for the 4pm time slot with more viewers than ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox combined.
‘I never thought that I was going to work on TV. I truly was not interested in doing that,’ said De Molina to Dailymail.com. ‘But by luck I got on TV and have been doing that for a lot longer than when I was a photographer, almost half of my life now and I love it.’
‘It all started with art and photography for me,’ said De Molina who hosted 300 people at his Miami condo for a party celebrating the opening night of Art Basel 2019. For De Molina, it was also a chance to showcase his brilliant archive of photos to a group of friends and associates that only know of him in the context of television. ‘It was something I always wanted to do,’ he said.
When he’s not filming, Raul De Molina enjoys spending his free time travelling: ‘I’ve been lucky enough go to 107 countries around the world on my own.’ And while he always packs a host of cameras in his suitcase he said: ‘But to tell you the truth, I mostly just use my iPhone now.’
Riots in Bogota, Columbia after the assassination of Columbian presidential candidate, Bernardo Jaramillo
Four men arrested during the Miami 1989 Riots in Liberty City, in the background is a grocery store that had been completely looted. Two different versions of this photograph ran in U.S. News & World Report and Time Magazine, ‘This is one of my top two favorite photographs,’ said De Molina to DailyMail.com
Actor and boxer Mickey Rourke ahead of his match at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Rourke trained at the same ring (5th Street Gym) as other legendary boxers such as Muhammad Ali
Madonna posing during a photoshoot on top of a building on Golden Beach for a calendar
Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas tape a scene of NBC’s Miami Vice on the roof of a building along Ocean Drive, Miami Beach. Miami Vice the television show mimicked many of the real-life newsworthy problems that De Molina covered throughout the city
Miami-Dade County police officers posted up against a CNN van during the 1989 Riots
Actress and Socialite Zsa Zsa Gabor attending a match at the Boca Raton Polo Club
University of Miami quarterback Vinny Testaverde celebrates his number one ranking with his parents following the school’s defeat against Oklahoma at the 1986 Orange Bowl. Testaverde won the Heisman Trophy that year
Miami River Cops in July 1985 fishing out a body after pursing six drug dealers who drowned while attempting to escape corrupt police officers who stole $9 million in drugs
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Cuban American and Latina elected to Congress, celebrates her win with her father and husband in 1989. Ileana was the first Republican in the House to support same-sex marriage, serving in Congress for 30 years
G. Gordon Liddy, who served a prison sentence of 52 months for his role in the Watergate scandal formed a SWAT team of Israeli forces. Here, Liddy poses with them in South Miami
Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas filming a scene on the set of NBC’s American TV drama, Miami Vice
Source: Daily Mail