Gloria Vanderbilt, American Heiress and Fashion Icon, Dies at 95
On Monday, American socialite Gloria Vanderbilt, who lived multiple lives as an actress, model, fashion designer and artist, died at 95 in her New York home.
Her son, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, announced in an on-air obituary that the cause of her death was stomach cancer.
“What an extraordinary life. What an extraordinary mom. What an incredible woman,” Cooper said.
What a life indeed. She was a descendent of Cornelius Vanderbilt, a railroad magnate who became one of the richest men in American history. But while Vanderbilt was born into tremendous privilege, her childhood was fraught with tabloid fodder.
Her father died soon after she was born in 1924, while her mother was too busy living as a socialite in Europe to care for her daughter. In 1934, Vanderbilt became the centre of a bitter custody battle between her aunt and mother.
But when she came of age, she was determined to make a name for herself. Vanderbilt moved from New York to Los Angeles, where she became a socialite, actress and model. She went on to have four marriages and a series of affairs with notable men including Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando and Howard Hughes.
In the 1970s, Vanderbilt turned her family name into a US$100 million fashion empire with her eponymous jean line. She then lent her name to fragrances, accessories and bed linens. She was also a painter and writer, publishing short stories, poetry and four memoirs throughout her life.
Above all, her friends and family will remember her most as a hopeful romantic.
"My mom's an eternal optimist,” Cooper said in a 2016 interview. “Even at 92, she believes the next great love, the next great adventure, is around the corner."