The youngest of twelve children (hence, the nickname "Bebe" meaning "Baby" in Spanish) of Cuban immigrants to Tampa, Florida, Matias and Carmen, Rebozo owned several businesses in Florida, including a gas station and a group of laundromats, before starting his own bank, the Key Biscayne Bank & Trust, in Key Biscayne, Florida in 1964. Rebozo regularly attended Key Biscayne Community Church, sometimes accompanied during later years by Richard Nixon.
Rebozo first met then-U.S. Representative Nixon in 1950 through Florida Representative George Smathers. Smathers had recommended Key Biscayne as a vacation destination to Nixon, who eventually established a residence there which was later nicknamed the "Winter White House" by journalists. While Nixon was vacationing in Key Biscayne, Smathers had Rebozo take Nixon deep sea fishing. Rebozo and Nixon then started a friendship that endured 44 years.
Rebozo quickly became best friend and financial and real estate advisor to Nixon. In 1968 Rebozo changed his party from Democratic to Republican.
According to Rebozo, the two men were swimming together at Rebozo's home in June 1972 when Nixon was first informed of the Watergate Hotel break-in. And he was with the president on the night that Nixon resolved to resign from the presidency. John Dean, Nixon's lawyer, testified before the House Judiciary Committee he was ordered to covertly direct government agencies to punish a journalist who called Rebozo "Nixon's bagman." Rebozo was investigated for accepting covert payments of $100,000 on behalf of Nixon.
Rebozo received a letter threatening his life in 1974.
In 1976, Rebozo was the subject of a bank fraud investigation. The loan application Rebozo filed with Hudson Valley National Bank (Yonkers, New York) stated that the loan was for residential real estate when it was actually used for business. Rebozo repaid the loan with interest, and the bank did not file a complaint.
Following his graduation from Miami High School, class of 1930, Rebozo married his high school sweetheart Claire Gunn. Both of them were 18 years old and the marriage was annulled three years later. In 1946 they remarried but divorced four years later. He later married Jane Lucke who survived him.
It was Bebe Rebozo who sequestered several of the "smaller" gifts, meted out in $50,000 increments.
r am also aware of the fact that after an at-ticle was published on Mr. Rebozo I got instructions that one of the authors ol that article should have some problems. I did not know how to deal directly with the situation. I discussed it with Mr. Caulfield. I was reluctant to call Mr. Walters, who was the head of the Internal Revenue Service and suggest that he do anything about this.
The men remained fast friends after Nixon left office. Mr. Rebozo continued to defend his friend, though he himself was not untouched by the scandals. He was investigated by a congressional committee for accepting a $100,000 cash donation from the mysterious industrialist Howard Hughes for a Nixon campaign.
Now that Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox has been removed, the true test of the Justice Department's handling of the investigation into the strange finances of President Nixon's friend Bebe Rebozo.