Today is the 94th birthday of Gloria Vanderbilt. Heiress, fashion designer, artist, jet setter, and Anderson Cooper’s mother. Her life is huge, we can all take a couple notes from her. The world is a better place because she is in it.
BEST KNOWN FOR: Known for her fashion design and tumultuous personal life, actress, writer and artist Gloria Vanderbilt became an iconic figure in American popular culture during the 20th century.
Gloria Laura Vanderbilt (born February 20, 1924) is an American artist, author, actress, heiress, and socialite most noted as an early developer of designer blue jeans. She is a member of the prominent Vanderbilt family of New York and mother of CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
At 17 years old, Vanderbilt went to Hollywood where she married agent Pasquale (“Pat”) DiCicco in 1941; they divorced in 1945.
Her second marriage, to conductor Leopold Stokowski in April 1945, produced two sons, Leopold Stanislaus “Stan” Stokowski, born August 22, 1950 and Christopher Stokowski, born January 31, 1952; they divorced in October 1955.
On August 28, 1956, she married director Sidney Lumet; they divorced in August 1963.
She married her fourth husband, author Wyatt Emory Cooper on December 24, 1963. They had two sons: Carter Vanderbilt Cooper (born January 27, 1965 – July 22, 1988) and CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper (born June 3, 1967). Wyatt Cooper died in 1978 during open heart surgery in New York City. Carter Cooper committed suicide at the age of 23 by jumping from the family’s 14th floor apartment as his mother tried in vain to stop him. Vanderbilt believed that it was caused by a psychotic episode induced by an allergy to the anti-asthma medical prescription drug Proventil.
She has three grandchildren by her eldest son, Stan: Aurora, born in March 1983 and Abra, born in February 1985, both to author Ivy Strick, and Myles, born in 1998 to artist Emily Goldstein.
Gloria is very close friends with comedienne Kathy Griffin, and while appearing as a guest on her son Anderson Cooper’s talk show, Anderson on September 19, 2011, referred to Kathy as her “fantasy daughter.” Kathy refers to Gloria as “Glo”, as did her third husband, Lumet.
During the 1970s, she ventured into the fashion business, first with Glentex, licensing her name for a line of scarves. In 1976, Indian designer Mohan Murjani’s Murjani Corporation, proposed launching a line of designer jeans carrying Vanderbilt’s name embossed in script on the back pocket, as well as her swan logo. Her jeans were more tightly fitted than the other jeans of that time. The logo eventually appeared on dresses and perfumes as well. Along with her jeans, Vanderbilt also launched a line of blouses, sheets, shoes, leather goods, liqueurs, and accessories.
Vanderbilt is the author of four memoirs and three novels, and is a regular contributor to The New York Times, Vanity Fair, and Elle.