Actress, fashion designer and socialite Gloria Vanderbilt died at her home on Monday after a battle with stomach cancer. She was 95.
Her son, CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper, confirmed the news to CNN.
“Gloria Vanderbilt was an extraordinary woman, who loved life, and lived it on her own terms,” Cooper said in a statement to CNN. “She was a painter, a writer, and designer but also a remarkable mother, wife, and friend. She was 95 years old, but ask anyone close to her, and they’d tell you, she was the youngest person they knew, the coolest, and most modern. She died this morning, the way she wanted to – at home, surrounded by family and friends.”
Vanderbilt was born on Feb. 20, 1924 as the only child to Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt, the grandson of railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, and Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt. When he was 45, Reginald died of cirrhosis of the liver leaving his 18-month-old daughter to be raised by her mother. Vanderbilt and her half-sister Cathleen Vanderbilt each inherited half of a $5 million inheritance.
Gloria Morgan was known to frivolously spend her daughter’s inheritance partying with her identical twin sister Thelma Morgan by her side. When Vanderbilt was 10 years old, her paternal aunt Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney stepped in to fight for custody of her niece. What followed was dubbed “the Trial of the Century” and Vanderbilt became the country’s “poor little rich girl.” The custody battle was tabloid fodder for months in 1934.
Whitney won the court case and Vanderbilt was sent to live on her aunt’s Long Island, N.Y. estate. Gloria Morgan received limited visitation rights.
In 1982, an NBC mini-series, titled “Little Gloria… Happy at Last,” aired based on the famous trial. It was nominated for six Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award.
At age 17, Vanderbilt moved to Hollywood to pursue acting. She married agent and alleged mobster Pat DiCicco in 1941. The couple divorced in 1945.
The same year she married conductor Leopold Stokowski. The couple had two children, Leopold Stanislaus “Stan” Stokowski, 68, and Christopher Stokowski, 66. Vanderbilt and Stokowski divorced in 1955.
In 1956, she married director Sidney Lumet but the couple divorced in 1963.
Vanderbilt married author Wyatt Emory Cooper in 1963. They had two children, Anderson, 52, and Carter. The couple remained married until Cooper’s death in 1978 from open heart surgery. Tragedy struck again when Carter committed suicide at the age of 23.
In between marriages she also had relationships with author Roald Dahl, filmmakers Howard Hughs and Gordon Parks, singer Frank Sinatra and actor Marlon Brando.
Vanderbilt spearheaded the movement of turning tight jeans into a women’s fashion staple in the 1970s. She partnered with Indian designer Mohan Murjani’s Murjani Corporation to create jeans known for having her signature and swan logo embroidered on the back. She would go on to release a line of perfume and home goods with her name.
In 2001 she opened up her first art exhibit which was considered a critical success.
Vanderbilt was also a bestselling author for her 2016 book “The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Loss and Love,” which she co-wrote with Anderson. She and Anderson also appeared together in the 2016 HBO documentary, “Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper.”
Anderson paid tribute to his mother with a special obituary that aired on CNN.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) June 17, 2019