Who Is Anderson Cooper?
Anderson Cooper is the son of Gloria Vanderbilt and a descendant of Cornelius Vanderbilt. He grew up in New York City, attending the Dalton School and later Yale University before pursuing a journalism career. He became a correspondent for ABC News in 1995, moving to anchor positions on CNN a few years later and hosting his own news program, Anderson Cooper 360°, beginning in 2003. Cooper has also served as the longtime host of CNN's annual New Year's Eve Live special.
Early Life and Family Tragedies
Anderson Cooper was born in New York City on June 3, 1967, to writer Wyatt Emory Cooper and designer and railroad heiress Gloria Vanderbilt. From an early age, Cooper was exposed to his mother's glamorous lifestyle and social circle, meeting the likes of Truman Capote, among others. As a baby, he was photographed for the cover of Harper's Bazaar by Diane Arbus, and later he enjoyed a brief career as a child model, appearing in ad campaigns for companies such as Macy's and Ralph Lauren.
In 1978, Cooper's father died during open-heart surgery, a tragedy that would influence the way Cooper lived his life. Tragedy struck his family again a decade later, when his brother, Carter, committed suicide by jumping to his death from the 14th-floor window of their mother's New York City apartment. As with his father's death, Carter's suicide fueled Cooper's drive, and he would later connect the event with his career as a news correspondent: "I became interested in questions of survival: why some people survive and others don't. ... Covering wars just seemed logical."
By the early 1980s, Cooper was enrolled at the Dalton School, an exclusive, private Manhattan institution. He graduated in 1985 and went on to attend Yale University, where he studied political science. During this time, Cooper also interned with the CIA, a fact that would make headlines some 20 years later.
News Correspondent and Anchor
After graduating from Yale with a bachelor's degree in 1989, Cooper began his news career as a fact-checker for Channel One, which produces news segments to be broadcast in schools around the country. Bored with his day-to-day job, he took a video camera with him to Southeast Asia, and his footage of strife in Myanmar and parts of Africa eventually landed him the job of chief international correspondent for Channel One.
Cooper's reports soon attracted enough attention that, in 1995, he was hired by ABC News as a correspondent and then a co-anchor of World News Now. Growing weary of the demanding schedule, he left in 2000 to host a new ABC reality show, The Mole. But after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Cooper was compelled to return to the news, and the following January CNN took him aboard as a correspondent and substitute anchor.
'Anderson Cooper 360°'
In 2003, CNN gave Cooper his own news show, Anderson Cooper 360°, on which he has examined the world's major stories for nearly two decades. The show was an instant success, and Cooper himself became a household name, propelled by his reporting on such events as Hurricane Katrina, the death of Pope John Paul II and the Boston Marathon Bombing, as well as much of CNN's political and election coverage.
In 2006, Cooper also began an ongoing affiliation with CBS's 60 Minutes, to which he has contributed reports on such topics the drug war in Mexico, rape in Congo and the dire condition of coral reefs off the coast of Cuba.
Awards and Memoir
Cooper's journalistic output has earned him numerous honors over the years, including a slew of Emmy Awards. In 2005 he won both Peabody and National Headliner Awards for his coverage of the Indian Ocean tsunami; in 2006 he won an Edward R. Murrow Award for his coral reef report; and in 2013 he received a GLAAD Media Award, to name just a few of his accolades. Finding similar success as a writer, his 2006 memoir, Dispatches from the Edge—about his experiences covering war and tragedy—became a New York Times best seller.
Talk Show and 'New Year's Eve Live'
In September 2011, Cooper debuted a daytime talk show, Anderson (later rebranded Anderson Live). However, the show failed to make a sizable impact with fans and was off the air less than two years later.
The newsman has enjoyed more success as the host of CNN's annual New Year's Eve Live special since 2002, with friend Andy Cohen joining him for coverage beginning in 2017. Normally tasked with explaining the actions of former co-host Kathy Griffin, Anderson found himself defending one of that night's segments in which a correspondent reported from inside a bus filled with people smoking marijuana.
In July 2012, Cooper confirmed that he is a gay man, after years of remaining private in regard to his sexual orientation. The news unfolded after his friend Andrew Sullivan, a writer for The Daily Beast, asked Cooper for his reaction to an Entertainment Weekly story. Cooper's response, which Sullivan later publicly posted online, was as follows: "The fact is, I'm gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn't be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud."
In March 2014, Cooper's personal life made headlines again after he revealed during a candid interview on Howard Stern's radio show that he would not inherit any of his mother's sizable fortune after her passing. A millionaire in his own right, Cooper went on to clarify that it was not an issue for him, saying, "I don't believe in inheriting money. I think it's an initiative sucker. I think it's a curse." He further praised his mother and credited her with giving him his drive to work hard and succeed.
Cooper's relationship with Vanderbilt was the focus of the HBO documentary Nothing Left Unsaid, which aired in early April 2016. Its release was accompanied by a joint memoir titled The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love and Loss. Vanderbilt passed away three years later, in June 2019.
In April 2020, Cooper became a father with the birth of son Wyatt Morgan via a surrogate.
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