1925: A 5 million dollar baby
Gloria Vanderbilt (with full name Gloria Laura Madeleine Sophie Vanderbilt) was born in New York on 20 February 1924, into the wealthiest family in America, whose Patriarch Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877), her great-great grandfather made his enormous fortune from steamship and railroad and left behind about 200 million dollars.
Her father, Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt (1880–1925), unfortunately, was a gambler and an alcoholic, who died of liver disease when Gloria was not yet 2 years old, and left her with 5 million dollar in trust fund (67 million dollar in today's value).
1925-1933: A movable feast in Europe
Her mother, Gloria Mogan(1904-1965), the twin sister of Thelma Furness(who was ex-lover of Edward VIII when he was Prince of Wales), took Little Gloria to Paris to live. And from then on, they(or rather her mother Gloria Mogan) live like wealthy Gypsies, in a permanent movable feast, from Paris to London to Cannes and back to Paris again, and Little Gloria stayed with her loyal nanny Emma Sullivan Kieslich more than with her own mother.
1934: Trial of Century
The idyllic life as an European exile came to a halt for Gloria Mogan, when her mother was upset about the social life of her daughter and concerned about the future of her granddaughter little Gloria, and decided to enlist the help of the latter's aunt, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, thus triggering the most scandalous war of custody of the 20 century.
The testimony would become so off colour that the judge had to close the door of the courtroom to the public, but the damage has been done. Gloria Vanderbilt would be forever called "The poor little rich girl".
When it finally ended, Gloria Mogan lost the custody of her daughter who would be living with her aunt Gertrude for the next seven years in the latter's Long Island Estate.
1941: From Long Island to Hollywood
It seems that deep in her heart, Gloria Vanderbilt was her mother's daughter, aspiring for life and freedom, and her aunt Gertrude's way of raising her up was perhaps too much for her.
At age of 17, she decided to leave her aunt to go to Hollywood. There, she met the very handsome and very rich Howard Hughes. she wanted to marry him.
But instead she married his press secretary, Pasquale DiCicco, and her aunt Gertrude was so angry about the news that she disinherited Gloria.
And the marriage was not a happy one, full of physical abuses and violence from her husband. So four years later, Gloria divorced him, walking out of the marriage not only happier, but richer, as she came into her $5 million trust fund.
And she was in love.
The new man in her life was Leopold Stokowski, a man of music, a British conductor of Polish origin. Although more than 40 years older than her, he was also a man of passion, and they got married just a few weeks after Gloria's divorce.
And it was thanks to him, Gloria Vanderbilt discovered her love in art and decided to nurture her talent by painting, writing poetry and studying at The Art Students League of New York, then embarked on a short career in acting, on Broadway as well as in television dramas, she also became mother of two sons: Stan Stokowski and Christopher Stokowski.
After 10 year of marriage with Leopold Stokowski, Gloria decided to divorce him after a short affair with Frank Sinatra.
And she did not stay divorced for long.
1956: third time in a row
In 1956, Gloria Vanderbilt Married Sidney Lumet, a television then film director. Their marriage lasted for 7 years but they remained friends all their life.
1963: love of her life
Then Gloria met screenwriter Wyatt Cooper.
They married in 1963, and Gloria would stay in this marriage until death took her husband away.
To Gloria Vanderbilt, Wyatt Cooper was the love of her life, her soul mate.
And the father of her children.
Gloria had longed to become mother again, and Cooper made her dream come true by giving her two beautiful sons: Carter Cooper and Anderson Cooper. It also made Gloria Vanderbilt discover another wonderful side of Cooper:
“We had the family life that I’d always wanted,” Vanderbilt said. “He made me understand what it would have been like to have had a father – he was a most amazing father. I’d never experienced anything like it.”
The marriage was also very inspiring for Gloria's sense of creativity. She got the idea of designing her own brand of jeans, by making the high-end Italian jeans she herself wore more affordable and fit better. It was huge success, so successful that she became "the duchess of denim" or "queen of jean", and later would branch out into other areas including scarves, shoes, table and bed linen and even china.
While life gave her glory, it was also waiting to bring her tragedy. After 15 year of happy marriage, in 1978 Gloria lost her husband Wyatt Cooper to heart attach on operating table.
She never married again.
Ten years later, in 1988, she would have to live through another devastating tragedy: her first son with Wyatt Cooper, Carter Cooper would jump out of her apartment, killing himself.
She survived again, and wrote a book to deal with her pain years later.
2000s: warrior of society
After living so much and seeing it all, Gloria Vanderbilt continued to live more fully: she dined and danced and designed, she painted and exhibited her works, and she wrote, and wrote, and wrote. Nothing seemed taboo for her, not even erotica. In 2009, she wrote an erotic novel Obsession, and she was not shamed about it, either.
“I don’t think age has anything to do with what you write about. The only thing that would embarrass me is bad writing, and the only thing that really concerned me was my children. You know how children can be about their parents. But mine are very intelligent and supportive."
2016: The rainbow comes and goes
Anderson Cooper, Gloria Vanderbilt's younger son she had with her last husband Wyatt Cooper, had always had close relationship with her mother. But as a prominent journalist and news anchor for CNN who had extremely busy schedule and a public figure who was private about his personal life, there are things mother and son either do not have time to talk or choose not to talk.
Until one day, Anderson Cooper decided that he wanted to ask his mother things he did not ask before, tell her thing he did not tell her before. They sat down, talked, and it opened the door to his mother's memory. They made the conversations into written word, to record, to remember, to love.
Gloria Vanderbilt died at her home in Manhattan on June 17, 2019 of stomach cancer earlier in the month. She would be buried next to her son Carter Cooper and last husband Wyatt Cooper.