Gloria Vanderbilt, a famous model and socialite who was often a subject of fascination in the worlds of fashion and media, has died at 95, according to a report on CNN, where her son, Anderson Cooper, is an anchor.
Vanderbilt led a tumultuous life, with a heated custody battle over her and her inheritance when she was young, and filled with marriages and business ventures as she grew older. "She lived her entire life in the public eye," Cooper said in a video obituary that aired on CNN Monday.
Vanderbilt was the only daughter of railroad magnate Reginald Vanderbilt and his second wife. She and a half-sister, Cathleen Vanderbilt, each stood to inherit a share in a trust after the executive died when Gloria was just 18 months old. Her paternal aunt would eventually win custody over the girl and her share in the trust. The trial around who would take control of young Vanderbilt's life and finances was a tabloid sensation at the time.
But her life of adventure had only just begun. She studied acting and art and also became a top international fashion model.
In the 1970s, she was among the first to grab hold of the trend for designer jeans, launching a line with her signature stitched onto one of the back pockets. She later went on to market dresses, perfumes, dresses, accessories -- even liqueurs. She also turned to the literary world, writing novels and memoirs.
Vanderbilt first married in 1941 to Pat DiCicco, an actors' agent with a rough reputation. The marriage lasted just four years, and within weeks of its end, she married conductor Leopold Stokowski. They had two sons, Leopold and Christopher, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1955.
Vanderbilt was married to film director Sidney Lumet between 1956 and 1963. On Christmas Eve, 1963 she married author Wyatt Cooper who died during heart surgery in 1978.
The couple had two children: Anderson Cooper and Carter Cooper; the latter died in 1988 after jumping from the terrace of his mother's 14th-floor Manhattan apartment as Vanderbilt watched.
"Gloria Vanderbilt was an extraordinary woman, who loved life, and lived it on her own terms," Cooper said in a statement. "She was a painter, a writer and designer but also a remarkable mother, wife, and friend." He added, "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 and most modern."
Australian Associated Press