Fashion designer, artist, author, and socialite Gloria Vanderbilt died Monday morning at home surrounded by friends and family. She was 95.
Her son, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, announced her passing in an emotional on-air tribute to his mother, explaining that his mom learned she had terminal stomach cancer just earlier this month after hospital tests. “Gloria Vanderbilt died as she lived, on her own terms,” Cooper said in his heart-wrenching segment, which takes viewers through Vanderbilt’s very public life.
“The last few weeks, every time I kissed her goodbye, I’d say, ‘I love you, Mom.’ She would look at me and say, ‘I love you, too. You know that.’ And she was right,” Cooper said, as he fought back tears. “And in the end, what greater gift can a mother give to her son?”
Vanderbilt was the daughter of financier Reginald Vanderbilt, the heir to a railroad fortune. After her father died, she was raised by her aunt. She worked as an actress and painter but was best known as a fashion designer who created the It Jean of the 1980s. She was also an accomplished author who wrote poetry and two memoirs. At the age of 85, she published an erotic novel, Obsession. Her relationship with her CNN anchor son was memorialized in the 2016 HBO documentary Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper.
“She was 95 years old, but ask anyone close to her and they’d tell you she was the youngest person they knew—the coolest, the most modern. She died this morning the way she wanted to, at home, surrounded by family and friends.”
While Cooper spoke from the heart, he also spoke for Vanderbilt’s many fans and admirers when he said in his on-air tribute, “What an extraordinary life. What an extraordinary mom. And what an incredible woman.”