Cooper also pointed out to Stern that his father, who died following a heart attack in 1978 at the age of 50, had proved this point. Wyatt Emory Cooper hadn’t come from money, but he had made a success of his life nonetheless. “My dad grew up really poor in Mississippi,” Cooper said. “I paid attention to that because I thought that’s a healthier thing to pay attention to than, like, some statue of a great-great-great grandfather who has no connection to my life.”
And perhaps it was also the actions of those forefathers that made Cooper dubious about the concept of inherited wealth. In 2014, the newsman was featured on the PBS genealogy show Finding Your Roots. And Cooper was not pleased by what he found. It turned out that his family tree had a particularly unpleasant branch – a man who owned slaves.