The CNN journalist is one of the most recognized figures in the broadcast news industry, with his white hair and piercing blue eyes an instant trademark. With a career spanning three decades, and a net worth of around $100 million as of 2019, the sad story of his upbringing might surprise you.
Anderson Cooper was not adopted. He was born to well-known American parents who were both in the entertainment industry. His mother was Gloria Vanderbilt, who was an actress, artist, author, and socialite (among many other titles), and his father Wyatt Emory Cooper was an author and actor.
Let’s continue diving into Cooper’s past, as well as his rise in the journalism ranks, and his personal life.
Cooper’s Mother and Father
Cooper was born in 1967 on the 3rd of June in the high-priced Manhattan area of New York City. His mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, was a renowned artist, writer, heiress, and fashion designer in America.
Due to her prominent stance in the entertainment industry, Anderson was immediately flung into the world of media. When he was an infant, his mother took him to be photographed for Harper’s Bazaar magazine by Diane Arbus.
At 3 years old, he went on The Tonight Show as a guest in 1970 alongside his mom. He appeared on the game show To Tell the Truth at 9 years of age, and modeled for various high-end brands, like Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, from 10 to 13 years old.
Despite all the glitz and glamour of the spotlight that surrounded Anderson, things weren’t always so bright.
Tragedy in His Childhood
In 1978, tragedy struck when his father died during open-heart surgery. Wyatt had been struggling with heart attacks and was only 50 years old when he passed away.
Speaking to Howard Stern on The Howard Stern Show in May 2020, Cooper opened up about his mother’s parenting after his father died:
“She was not the most parental person, and I wish some adult, after my dad died, had stepped in and just been like, ‘You know what? I’ll take you to a ball game,’ or ‘Let’s go out to lunch every now and then. Let’s just talk.’ No one ever did that.”
“And so I thought, ‘Well if something happens to me — or even if something doesn’t happen to me — if more people love my son and are in his life, I’m all for that.”
He did become quite close to his mother, though, and often posts images of her to his Instagram to reminisce on fond memories after she passed away in 2019.
In his post below on the one-year anniversary of her death, part of his caption wrote:
“My mom, @gloriavanderbilt, died one year ago today. She is alive in my heart and in the hearts of all who knew her and loved her. She had an extraordinary and indomitable spirit, grit, determination, passion, and vulnerability.”
What’s more, Anderson’s older brother Carter Vanderbilt Cooper committed suicide in 1988.
In the early 2000s, Gloria revealed that the deaths of Anderson’s father and brother helped influence his choice to enter journalism – shaping him to be the reporter he is today:
“Later, when he became a reporter, it enabled him to do this with compassion and maturity way beyond his years. I’ve always thought that TV is like an X-ray. And when you see Anderson on TV, what you see is what you get. He really is like that.”
Pursuing His Education & Becoming a Journalist
Despite the hardships Cooper faced in his younger years, he was still determined to get a stable education and make a name for himself, separate from his famous mother.
He went to Dalton School in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, before attending Yale University with political science as his major.
Without any formal kind of journalist education, Cooper worked his way up after graduating from Yale, starting with answering phones at the ABC, to becoming a correspondent for ABC News.
Making a Family of His Own
As an openly gay man, Cooper wanted to begin his own family with his partner, Benjamin Maisani. Unfortunately, the pair broke up in 2018, but that didn’t stop them from having a child.
Instead of adoption, they opted to have a child through a surrogate. On the 30th of April 2020, Cooper and Maisani’s son Wyatt Morgan was born.