Gloria Vanderbilt Dead at 95

Gloria Vanderbilt, the girl who amazed the nation during a scandal-tinged custody trial in the 1930s and became one of the biggest socialites from her era. She had various careers such as a painter, model, actress, poet, author, and mass-marketer of designer jeans. 

Custody Battle

The heiress was just ten years old when she became the subject of a sensational custody battle in 1934. It gave the Depression-era America a window into the lives of the wealthy. The press stuck Ms.Vanderbilt with the name ‘Poor little rich girl’ left her with an aura of mystery she never escaped.

Headlines

Gloria was always making headlines with her romantic liaisons with people such as Frank Sinatra, Howard Hughes and Gordon Parks, among others. After four husbands, four sons, and more than forty years after the courtcase that made her famous, Gloria took the spotlight by merchandising her celebrity. She took her name, Gloria Vanderbilt and turned it into a label that displayed on the backside of form-fitting blue jeans for women.

Creative Drive

Her creative drive was often said, caused by a need to make order out of her chaotic childhood.

Painful Memory

The most painful thing Gloria endured was witnessing the suicide of her 23-year-old son, Carter Vanderbilt Cooper. In 1988, Carter leapt from the fourteenth-floor terrace of her Manhattan apartment, causing Gloria to write a book, titled, “A Mother’s Story” in efforts to cope with the grief.

February Baby

Gloria was born on February 20, 1924, in New York City. She was the only child of Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt and his second wife, Gloria Morgan, who was only a teenager, half his age.

Gloria as a toddler became one of two heirs to $5 million trust fund. The other was a half-sister from her father’s first marriage.

Marriages… Custody… Cut Off

Gloria married Pat di Cicco but divorced in 1945. The day after her divorce she eloped with Stokowski. At the time she was 21 and he was 63. Together they had two sons but halfway through their 10 years together she had a nervous breakdown. By the time she was thirty, she left her husband encouraged by a fling with Frank Sinatra. She battled Stokowski for custody of their sons after their divorce and won, not allowing her children to testify. Her next marriage was in 1956 to Lumet. The marriage ended in 1963, that same year she married Wyatt Cooper, who sadly died in 1978 after a heart attack, leaving her widowed. Gloria never married again.

Survived By

Gloria is survived by her two sons, Anderson Cooper and Stan Stokowski.

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