Anderson Cooper Family History


Anderson Hays Cooper was born on June 3rd, 1967 to Wyatt Emery Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt in New York City.

He grew up in Manhattan and, as a Vanderbilt descendant, was in the spotlight from a very early age.  At eleven his father Wyatt died from a heart attack; at twenty-one he experienced his older brother Carter killing himself by jumping from the 14th-floor terrace of their penthouse apartment.  These events created a bond between Anderson and his mother Gloria (in 2017 they co-authored a memoir The Rainbow Comes and Goes on their past history).

These events also sparked in Anderson an interest in journalism.  He disappeared into SE Asia for a while, reporting from Myanmar and Vietnam, before returning to New York in 1995 to become a correspondent for ABC News.  Six years later, he left ABC to join CNN.  Since that time he has remained at CNN as their anchor and correspondent.

Anderson revealed that he was gay in 2012.

The Cooper Line

Anderson’s Cooper line is a Southern story.  The first Cooper here, William Jesse Cooper, married Annie Boykin from Georgia.  This Annie was the daughter of a slave owner Burrell Boykin who came to operate a plantation in Choctaw county, Alabama.  Burrell was killed in 1860 at the plantation by one of his slaves who was subsequently lynched by family members.

William and Annie’s line began with their son Burrell, born in Choctaw county, Alabama in 1837.  This Burrell fought with the Alabama Infantry during the Civil War, losing a finger and being partially paralyzed in the right arm.

Afterwards he moved across the state line to nearby Clarke county in Mississippi (both counties having been the habitats of the Choctaw Indians earlier).  There he married twice and had four children.  He died in 1891 and was buried in the Cooper family cemetery in Clarke county.

Later Coopers were to be found in both Clarke and Choctaw counties, but they would struggle to make a living.  In his 1975 book Families: A Memoir and a Celebration, Wyatt Cooper wrote affectionately about his boyhood there and of the relatives who helped to make him what he became.

Wyatt left his small Mississippi town of Pleasant Grove in the 1930’s, first to New Orleans and then to Los Angeles where he studied theater arts and began an acting career.  By the 1950’s he had become an established author and screenwriter.

Moving to Manhattan in the early 1960’s, he met and married the New York socialite Gloria Vanderbilt.  Afterwards, the couple frequently appeared on the national “best-dressed” list.  Wyatt died in 1978.

The Vanderbilt Line

The Vanderbilt line is well-known and much covered, including by Anderson himself in his 2021 book Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty.  Cornelius Vanderbilt the Commodore started the dynasty.  His son Billy increased the family’s wealth.  But then the many Vanderbilts that followed spent and wasted the inheritance.

Anderson’s own line was via Billy’s eldest son Cornell and Cornell’s fourth and youngest son Reginald who was born in 1880.

Unlike his older brother Cornelius who had wanted to make a contribution to society, Reginald dropped out of Yale University after two years and decided to devote his time and effort to equestrian sports.  Here he became a well-known figure around horse-riding clubs and shows.  He was also a playboy, an avid gambler at the racetrack, and a heavy drinker.

Reginald inherited $10 million in 1901 from his father at the age of 21 and a further $5 million from his brother Alfred who died aboard the Lusitania in 1915.

He had married Cathleen Neilson in 1903 and together they had a daughter named Cathleen. The marriage did not last.  After a few years of separation, the couple divorced in 1920.  He married a second time in 1923 to Gloria Morgan, a Swiss-born American socialite.

The couple had a daughter named Gloria who was born in 1924.  But a year later Reginald himself was dead at his Rhode Island country house at the age of forty-five.  He died of liver failure due to his alcohol abuse and left a paltry fortune.

Little Gloria – Happy at Last

Not even Hollywood in its heyday could have dreamed up a melodrama so electrifying as the one that swirled around 10-year-old “Little Gloria” Vanderbilt.  In 1934 she became the object of a scandalous custody battle between her beautiful but none too bright mother, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, and her rich and powerful aunt, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (whose private life included several lovers and a pseudonymous novel about lesbianism).

What a cast of characters there were – everything from royals (Thelma, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt’s twin, was the mistress of the Prince of Wales), grande dames, and a hideously possessive nurse – to the terrified little girl herself, told that her mother might kill her.

Little Gloria did survive.  She married four times, to the agent Pat DiCicco, the conductor Leopold Stokowski, the movie director Sidney Lumet, and the writer Wyatt Emery Cooper.

In her fifties she ventured into the fashion business.  In 1976 the Indian designer Mohan Murjani proposed launching a line of designer jeans carrying Vanderbilt’s name embossed on the back pocket.  Despite her shyness, Gloria was one of the first designers to make public appearances to promote her product.  And Gloria Vanderbilt jeans were launched.

More recently, she was the author of four memoirs, three novels and was a regular contributor to publications like The New York Times, Vanity Fair, and Elle.  She died in 2019 at the age of ninety-five.

Anderson Cooper’s Family Tree

  • The Cooper Line
  • William Jessie Cooper m. Annie Boykin from Georgia
  • – Burrell Cooper (1837-1891)
  • Burrell Cooper from Alabama m. Laura Bull (1846-1882) in 1864; rem. Narcissa Fleming (1850-1921) in 1882
  • – William Cooper (1864-1938)
  • – Alice Cooper (1879-1959) m. James Robinson
  • – Mary Cooper (1890-1969)
  • – Walter Cooper (1891-1959) m. Mary Hurst
  • William Preston Cooper from Mississippi m. Roxana (Roxy) Flowers (1865-1903); rem. Susan Reese (1874-1955) in 1905
  • – Luther (Luke) Cooper (1884-1941) m. Jennie Long
  • – Delia Cooper (1886-1971) m. James Belcher
  • – Emmett Cooper (1888-1945)
  • – Claudia Cooper (1891-1920) m. Jesse Rowell
  • – Sadie Cooper (1908-1987) m. Claude Downey
  • Emmett Cooper from Alabama m. Jennie Rixie Anderson (1895-1972) in Mississippi in 1911
  • – Grace Cooper (1915-2005) m. Allen Roby
  • – Helen Cooper (1920-2005) m. James Graham
  • – Wyatt Cooper (1927-1978)
  • – Elsie Cooper (1936-1974)
  • – William Cooper (1939-2000)
  • Wyatt Emery Cooper m. Gloria Vanderbilt (1924-2019) in 1963
  • – Carter Cooper (1965-1988), died by suicide
  • – Anderson Cooper (b. 1967)
  • Anderson Cooper and Benjamin Maisani co-parent two sons
  • – Wyatt (b. 2020) and Sebastian (b. 2022)
  • The Vanderbilt Line
  • Cornelius Vanderbilt the Commodore (1794-1877) m. Sophia Johnson (1795- 1868) in 1813
  • – Phebe Vanderbilt (1814-1878) m. James Cross
  • – Ethelinda Vanderbilt (1817-1889) m. Daniel Allen
  • – Eliza Vanderbilt (1819-1890) m. George Osgood
  • – William Vanderbilt (1821-1885)
  • – Emily Vanderbilt (1823-1896) m. William Thorn
  • – Sophia Vanderbilt (1825-1912) m. Daniel Torrance
  • – Maria Vanderbilt (1827-1896) m. Horace Clark; rem. Robert Niven
  • – Frances Vanderbilt (1829-1868)
  • – Cornelius Vanderbilt (1830-1882) m. Ellen Williams, died by suicide
  • – Mary Vanderbilt (1834-1902) m. Nicholas La Bau
  • – Catherine Vanderbilt (1836-1881) m. Smith Barker
  • – George Vanderbilt (1839-1863)
  • William (Billy) Vanderbilt (1821-1885) m. Maria Kissam (1821-1896) in 1841
  • – Cornelius (Cornell) Vanderbilt (1843-1899)
  • – Margaret Vanderbilt (1845-1924) m. Elliott Shepard
  • – William Vanderbilt (1849-1920) m. Alva Smith; rem. Anne Rutherfurd
  • – Emily Vanderbilt (1852-1946) m. William Sloane; rem. Henry White
  • – Florence Vanderbilt (1854-1952) m. Hamilton Twombly
  • – Frederick Vanderbilt (1856-1938) m. Louise Torrance
  • – Eliza Vanderbilt (1860-1936) m. William Webb
  • – George Vanderbilt (1862-1914) m. Edith Dresser
  • Cornelius (Cornell) Vanderbilt m. Alice Gwynne (1845-1934) in 1867
  • – William Vanderbilt (1870-1892), died of typhoid
  • – Cornelius (Nelly) Vanderbilt (1873-1942) m. Grace Wilson and disinherited
  • – Gertrude Vanderbilt (1875-1942) m. Harry Whitney
  • – Alfred Vanderbilt (1877-1915) m. Elsie French; rem. Margaret Emerson; died on the Lusitania liner
  • – Reginald Vanderbilt (1880-1925)
  • – Gladys Vanderbilt (1886-1965) m. Laszio Szechenyi
  • Reginald Vanderbilt m. Cathleen Neilson (1885-1927) in Rhode Island in 1903 (divorced in 1920); rem. Gloria Maria Morgan (1904-1965) in New York in 1923
  • – Cathleen Vanderbilt (1904-1944) m. Henry Cushing
  • – Gloria Vanderbilt (1924-2019)
  • Gloria Vanderbilt m. Pat DiCicco (1909-1978) in 1941 (divorced in 1945); rem. Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977) in 1945 (divorced in 1955); rem. Sidney Lumet (1924-2011) in 1956 (divorced in 1963); rem. Wyatt Cooper (1927-1978) in 1963
  • – Stanislaus (Stan) Stukowski (b. 1950) m. Ivy Strick; rem. Emily Goldstein
  • – Christopher Stukowski (b. 1952)
  • – Carter Cooper (1965-1988)
  • – Anderson Cooper (b. 1967)


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Written by Colin Shelley

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