The younger generation may know her only as Anderson Cooper’s mother, but Gloria Vanderbilt had quite a life of her own prior to her son’s celebrity.
She was a media star from an early age.
Born to Reggie and Gloria (yes, she named her after herself!), Little Gloria was passed from family member to family member via the courts after a nasty, nasty, nasty custody battle.
Her Aunt, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney ended UP with her most of the time, since Mama was a tad nuts! And frankly, Aunt Gertrude wasn’t much better.
Big Gloria was a socialite, only concerned with her own celebrity and hedonistic life. Little Gloria was subjected to many scenes which a child should never see. So, Aunt Gertrude ended up with her.
A member of one of the wealtihest families in America, one of her ancestors built the Biltmore House in North Carolina, she was a child of privilege and had the best of everything, except family life. Shuttled between and educated in top notch private schools, Little Gloria took off for Hollywood at 17 where she promptly married Pasquale DeCicco. It lasted less than four years. It was the first of four marriages. Her last husband was Wyatt Emory Cooper, the father of Anderson and his brother, Carter who committed suicide by jumping from their 14th floor New York City apartment.
Her career coverd the theater, movies, scents, and fashion. She She is the Queen of Designer Jeans, and is credited with starting the designer jean onslaught of the late 1970s and 1980s. She even did some of her own ads.
She became known for her artwork, giving one-woman shows of oil paintings, watercolors, and pastels. This artwork was adapted and licensed, starting about 1968, by Hallmark and by Bloomcraft, and Vanderbilt began designing specifically for linens, china, glassware and flatware.
During the 1970s, she ventured into the fashion business, first with Glentex, licensing her name for a line of scarves. In 1976, Indian designer Mohan Murjani’s Murjani Corporation, proposed launching a line of designer jeans carrying Vanderbilt’s name embossed in script on the back pocket, as well as her swan logo. Vanderbilt appeared in a series of television ads promoting her products, and the line flourished. After Murjani, she began her own company, “GV Ltd.”, on 7th Avenue in New York.
She also wrote a very trashy novel, Obsession: An Erotic Tale, which is not fit to read and should never have seen the first drop of ink. It involves sado-maschoism with all the trimmings and includes kitchen herbs and vegetables. There’s a Unicorn as well, but he remains in the background, and is never brought into the plot. Whew!
Today, Vanderbilt is not involved in the fashion or home furnishings business and is in no way affiliated with the clothing and accessories company that uses her name.
She’s 85 today.
Maybe she is Happy At Last!