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Friday, January 27, 2017

The Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson Cooper

I've always liked Anderson Cooper's reporting, but it was only recently that I discovered that he was Gloria Vanderbilt's son. In his book, The Rainbow Comes and Goes, are featured intimate and candid e-mails between him and his ninety-one year old mother about their childhoods, thoughts and fears. We often see the lifestyle of wealthy people and think they "have it all", but it is often far from the truth. Born of an alcoholic father (who died when Gloria was just over a year old) and a young lesbian mother who had no desire to be a parent, Gloria Vanderbilt spent a lonely childhood and the object of a bitter custody battle between her mother (wanting access to her daughter's trust fund) and the Vanderbilt family. She was known as "The Poor Little Rich Girl" a newspaper heading during the custody trial.
Anderson also lost his father and at a young age and was confused by the Vanderbilt family. When it was pointed out to him, as a young boy, a statue of his great-great-great grandfather Cornelius Vanderbilt outside Grand Central Station, he immediately thought that all grandfather's became statues when they died - Cornelius Vanderbilt was once the richest man in the U.S. Anderson's brother, Carter Cooper, also died at a young age - he committed suicide at age 23, jumping from his mother's 14th floor balcony.
Despite four marriages, her exposure to Hollywood and the rich and famous in her teenage years (she dated Frank Sinatra and Howard Hughes and her mother's twin sister was the mistress of Edward, Prince of Wales whom she introduced to her friend Wallis Simpson) Gloria Vanderbilt has become a name in her own right as an author, artist, fashion designer and actress.

I've noticed that Anderson Cooper has a great deal of empathy when interviewing people. On one occasion, according to the book, he was in a war torn country where people were selling their belongings. He tried to offer someone money which was refused. Instead, he bought a broken watch from the man. He is very different from his mother who seems to have a selfish/victim/entitlement mentality whereas Anderson was more concerned with making his way on his own without the Vanderbilt name. Gloria Vanderbilt refused to read a letter from Catholic Charities written on behalf of her loyal nanny "Dodo," fearing it was bad news that might upset her. The "beloved nanny" had wanted to see Gloria one last time before she died at Catholic Charities. Gloria later received a letter from them saying that the woman whom she had described as more of a mother than her own mother, had died alone in the care of Catholic Charities.

There was a 1982 miniseries - Gloria Happy at Last about Gloria Vanderbilt.

You can watch some of an interview with Anderson Cooper and his mother here


Joanne said...

I need to read this book. I also like Anderson a lot and he gave an excellent talk at UTA. Very funny and self-deprecating.

K9friend said...

I always enjoy a good biography. Thanks for the suggestion, Ann!


So many books, so little time said...

Sounds really good, how sad though for that young man, you wonder how families can come back from some grief.

Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net