We use the word legend far too often in referring to non-legendary thing and people. However, when using legend in regard to describing Gloria Vanderbilt, it is truly fitting.
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?”
Her life was chronicled in sensational headlines from her childhood through four marriages and three divorces.
She married for the first time at 17, causing her aunt to disinherit her. Her husbands included Leopold Stokowski, the celebrated conductor, and Sidney Lumet, the award-winning movie and television director.
In 1988, she witnessed the suicide of one of her four sons.
She was a fabric designer who became an early enthusiast for designer denim.
The dark-haired, tall and ultra-thin Vanderbilt partnered with Mohan Murjani, who introduced a $1 million advertising campaign in 1978 that turned the Gloria Vanderbilt brand with its signature white swan label into a sensation.
At its peak in 1980, it was generating over $200 million in sales. And decades later, famous-name designer jeans – dressed up or down – remain a woman’s wardrobe staple.
“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.”
Watch Anderson Cooper’s tribute to his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, below.