Me: “Do you know Gloria Vanderbilt?”
Mich Dulce. “No. Is she from Gossip Girl?”
Me: “She’s the mother of Anderson Cooper.”
Mich: “Really? So Anderson Cooper is rich???? Vanderbilt sounds mayaman….”
During the ’70s, I came to know of Gloria Vanderbilt as a brand of designer jeans with the swan logo. Not for me, but for moms and titas. Remember this?
Through the years, I came to know more of her from reading books like Once Upon A Time (about her lonely—she was raised by her yaya—and the great custody battle known then as “the trial of the century); A Mother’s Story (where she talks about the suicide of her son Carter Cooper); It Seemed Important at the Time (a memoir of past romances and ex-husbands); and even the Gloria Vanderbilt Book of Collage (which I purchased second hand at the Strand bookstore in New York).
During the ’90s, I tagged along with gay friends to visit the Vanderbilt Mansion in New York (it has a planetarium!))
Maybe more of you would know her better through he son, Anderson Cooper, who famously visited Tacloban after Typhoon Yolanda.
She looks amazing by the way. Here she is at 91 years with son Anderson, 48, taken last year.
Now Gloria Vanderbilt and her son Anderson Cooper look back at the American heiress’ life via a full-length documentary entitled Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper.
The documentary, directed by Liz Garbus, premieres April 9 on HBO.
The documentary puts together archival footage and previously unseen home videos with present-day scenes to paint an intimate portrait of one of America’s most fascinating families.
Cooper and Vanderbilt tell the story of their past and present, loves and losses, and show how life sometimes repeats itself in the most unexpected ways.
Vanderbilt and Cooper go through a private archive of letters, home movies, photos and artwork created by her over the years, as well as vintage news footage and newspaper clippings in Nothing Left Unsaid, a journey through life.
“She’s got this public face, but the reality of her life is so different,” said Cooper.
Now 92, Vanderbilt still pursues art, painting every day as a means of self-expression and as a way of coping with what she calls “the grief for the lost places of your past.”
The daughter of Reginald Vanderbilt and his teenage wife Gloria Morgan, Gloria Vanderbilt experienced major loss at 15 months when her father died at age 45. She was raised primarily by a beloved nurse, known as Dodo, since her mother was largely absent.
In 1934, when she was 10 years old, Vanderbilt became the object of a bitter and very public custody battle, with her mother on one side and her aunt, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, on the other. The press demonized her “absent” mother and her “gay” Paris lifestyle, and the court awarded custody of little Gloria to her aunt.
By age 15, she had been photographed for Harper’s Bazaar. By 17, she was leading a largely unsupervised life in Hollywood and dating stars like Errol Flynn and Ray Milland. A marriage to 32-year-old, physically abusive agent Pasquale Di Cicco was short-lived.
Vanderbilt married 63-year-old conductor Leopold Stokowski when she was 20. The union lasted 12 years and produced two sons: Stan, who is interviewed in the documentary, and Chris.
Following a romance with Frank Sinatra and a court battle with Stokowski for custody of the boys, which she won, Vanderbilt married prominent movie director Sidney Lumet. They divorced after seven years.
Today, she reflects that a lifelong fear of abandonment would lead her to end a relationship before the other person did.
Vanderbilt finally found a measure of the domestic tranquility when she married writer-actor Wyatt Cooper in 1963, with whom they had two sons: Anderson and Carter.
“For the first time, I understood what it was like to be a parent and to have a family,” she said.
That family suffered a devastating blow in 1978 when 50-year-old Wyatt Cooper died during heart bypass surgery. After her husband’s death Vanderbilt rebounded with the launch of a hugely successful line of designer jeans.
Vanderbilt experienced an even greater loss in 1988 when her 23-year-old son Carter committed suicide, jumping from the terrace of her Manhattan penthouse as she pleaded with him not to. She still struggles daily to understand what happened and to wonder what she could have done to prevent it.
Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper premieres Saturday, April 9, only on HBO.
To know more, click HERE