Anderson Cooper, 50, is a familiar face on U.S. television screens, working as a respected broadcast journalist for satellite news channel CNN. But, if you knew of his family’s wealth, you might be surprised he decided to work at all. The eponymous host of Anderson Cooper 360° is descended from the fabulously wealthy Vanderbilt family. In fact, Cornelius Vanderbilt, who made a vast fortune in the rail and shipping industries during the 19th century, is his great-great-great-grandfather. His mother, Gloira Vanderbilt, was an heiress who later added to her riches by becoming a fashion designer. Millions upon millions of dollars are in play in Cooper’s family. But, as it turns out, he won’t see a dime of it.
Anderson Cooper was born on June 3, 1967, in New York, to Gloria Vanderbilt and the author Wyatt Emory Cooper. Vanderbilt, who is now a stately 93 years old, has led the most amazing life. The socialite was a model from age 17, before finding a lucrative and creative role in the fashion industry. She helped popularize blue jeans as a trend, and designer jeans bearing her name are still sold today.
Naturally, Vanderbilt moved in some pretty exclusive circles. She was friends with – and it was whispered also a lover to – some very famous men. Author Roald Dahl, eccentric millionaire film producer Howard Hughes, photo-journalist Gordon Parks, acting legend Marlon Brando and singer Frank Sinatra were among them. Rumor has it that she was Truman Capote’s inspiration for the larger-than-life Holly Golightly in his novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It was later turned into an iconic film starring Audrey Hepburn as the Golightly gal.