Famed heiress and jeans designer, Gloria Vanderbilt, the mother of CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, has died from stomach cancer at 95, he revealed on air. Learn more about Gloria and her extraordinary life.
Gloria Vanderbilt, the “poor little rich girl” who became a NYC icon and fashion designer, is dead at 95, according to her son, famed CNN journalist Anderson Cooper. Anderson broke the news on air with a touching obituary. “What an extraordinary life. What an extraordinary mom. And what an incredible woman,” he said during the six-minute tribute to his beloved mother. “Earlier this month, we had to take her to the hospital. That’s where we learned she had very advanced cancer in her stomach and that it had spread.” Here’s what you should know about Gloria and her remarkable life:
1. She became famous at 10 years old as the “Poor Little Rich Girl.” She was the center of a famed custody dispute between her mother and aunt, as both wanted control over her $4 million trust fund (about $65 million in today’s dollars). The money was left to her when her father, railroad fortune heir Reginald Vanderbilt, died when she was only 18 months old, to be accessed when she turned 21. Her paternal aunt claimed Gloria’s mom overspent, partied too hard, and was unfit to raise her daughter. Her aunt won custody, but the press gave little Gloria the sad nickname.
2. She was married four times. Her first marriage came at 17 years old to Hollywood agent Pasquale diCicco, 32, whom she left after he became physically abusive. At 21, she married famed conductor Leopold Stokowski, who was more than 40 years older than her. She divorced him in 1955 to marry 12 Angry Men director Sidney Lumet. When that marriage ended, she wed author Wyatt Cooper, who she was with until his death during open heart surgery in 1978. Wyatt is the father of her son, Anderson Cooper.
3. Gloria’s son Carter committed suicide in front of her. Her son, Carter Cooper, then 23, jumped to his death off a 14th-floor terrace of her Manhattan apartment in July 1988. Gloria was on her knees begging him not to do it, but he took his life anyway.
4. Gloria was a wildly successful jean designer. In the late 1970’s, her Gloria Vanderbilt line of skin-tight designer jeans were all the rage. She successfully ventured into other apparel, as well as jewelry and perfumes before selling her name rights to the brand to a corporation in India.
5. Gloria won’t be leaving any of her fortune to Anderson, at his request. Anderson has admitted that he doesn’t want to inherit any money from his mom when she passes, revealing in 2014 that, “From the time I was growing up, if I felt that there was some pot of gold waiting for me, I don’t know that I would’ve been so motivated. She made more money on her own than she ever inherited. We believe in working.”