Anderson Cooper Is More Than Just A Reporter

Almost every night, the general public can tune into CNN and watch Anderson Cooper on his news show Anderson Cooper 360°. When Cooper broadcasts the news he makes sure that what he’s saying is honest, trustworthy, and accurate. While he is best known for his on-air coverage of current events, there’s a lot more to him that happens behind the scenes. His early years, past relationships, and strong personal beliefs have shaped him into the man he is today. This is everything you need to know about Anderson Cooper.

The Family That Came Before Cooper

Hugh Judson Kilpatrick (1836-1881). American soldier black and white portrait
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Before Anderson Cooper was born there were several people in his family who had already made a name for themselves. His lineage dates back to the Civil War, being related to Major General Hugh Judson Kilpatrick, who marched with General William T. Sherman through Georgia.

His great-great-great-grandfather Cornelius Vanderbilt amassed a vast fortune after becoming a successful business magnate. Cornelius passed his wealth down to the future generations including Cooper’s grandparents, equestrian Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt and socialite Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt. This was then passed down to his mother Gloria Vanderbilt.

Gloria Vanderbilt Was The Mother Cooper Always Wanted

gloria vanderbilt reading a script on the radio
Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

Throughout his life, Cooper always spent a great deal of time talking about how much he admired his mother Gloria Vanderbilt. During her life, she worked as an artist, fashion designer, and writer, and was one of the richest heiresses of the 20th century.

During the 1930s she was part of the “trial of the century” as both of her parents fought for custody in order to control her trust fund. She married Cooper’s father, her fourth and final husband, in 1963. Gloria had four sons, with the youngest being Anderson.

Born Into Stardom

baby anderson cooper with his mom and brother
Jack Robinson/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Jack Robinson/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Anderson Cooper was born on June 3, 1967, in Manhattan, New York to Gloria Vanderbilt and actor/writer Wyatt Emory Cooper. His first step into the entertainment media was being a baby model for Harper’s Bazaar magazine and he was a part of various TV and modeling gigs throughout his childhood and teen years.

When Cooper was still a young man he lost his father and brother on two separate occasions. His brother Carter Vanderbilt Cooper experienced a psychotic episode after using an asthma inhaler. Sadly, the event led to his death. The experience caused Cooper to develop an interest in journalism.

A Stop In Africa Almost Ended Everything

anderson cooper and friends in africa
The Television Academy
The Television Academy

After Cooper graduated from high school he decided to spend a few months in Africa on what he called a “survival trip.” He had trekked the Rockies and gone backpacking in Mexico, so he thought Africa would be a fun adventure. When he arrived in Kenya he contracted malaria and had to be taken to the hospital immediately.

Luckily, Cooper survived the disease and went on to attend Yale University, majoring in political science. During his time at Yale, he spent a couple of years interning for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

How He Got His Start In Journalism

cooper on channel one in the 90s
Anderson/YouTube
Anderson/YouTube

Even though Cooper had no formal journalism training in college he still decided to pursue it after he graduated. He was quoted as being “a news junkie since he was in utero,” so he first turned to the American Broadcasting Company (ABC). He started by answering phones and doing other menial tasks, but it didn’t get him anywhere.

With the help of a friend, he created a fake press pass and became a fact-checker for Channel One. Now, he was ready to travel the globe. His first stop as a reporter was in Myanmar.

Traveling The World For The Right Reasons

anderson cooper wearing a blue shirt and hat
thecoolestguyonearth/Reddit
thecoolestguyonearth/Reddit

In Myanmar, Cooper met with students who were opposed to the Burmese government and he sent his footage to Channel One. Later, he went to Vietnam for a year to learn the language and film scenes of daily life. He made similar reports in war-torn parts of the world including Somalia, Bosnia, and Rwanda.

Cooper admitted he started to become desensitized by all the wrongdoings happening around him. After he was caught taking a photo of decomposing bodies he realized that there was a negative side to what he was doing. He decided that he wanted to bring back some good news to the mainstream media.

He’s Ready For His Close-Up

cooper co-hosting world news now in the late 90s
ABC News/YouTube
ABC News/YouTube

In 1995 Cooper became a correspondent for ABC News, eventually working his way up to being a co-anchor of World News Now. After a few years, he got tired of working almost 24/7 and decided to switch to reality TV and talk shows.

After a much-needed break with light-hearted entertainment, Cooper was ready to return to broadcast journalism. His decision was prompted by the events of 9/11 and he couldn’t think of a better place to report than CNN.

Cooper Can Now Call CNN His Home Away From Home

close-up portrait of cooper
Mark Mainz/Getty Images
Mark Mainz/Getty Images

His first position at CNN was to co-anchor American Morning with Paula Zahn and within a year he became the weekend prime-time anchor. In 2002 he got the opportunity to host CNN’s New Year’s Eve special and has been doing it every year since.

The following year he was given his own show called Anderson Cooper 360°, which has become one of the most trusted news reports on TV. In 2005 he covered numerous top stories such as Hurricane Katrina, the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, and more. This led to the expansion of his show and a multi-year contract with CNN.

The Other Projects In His Life

cooper and gloria vanderbilt posing for a photo
Jenny Anderson/WireImage/Getty Images
Jenny Anderson/WireImage/Getty Images

While Cooper spends the majority of his time focusing on the news, that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing he does. He’s worked on documentaries, had his own talk show, moderated presidential debates, performed on Broadway, written several articles and books, and collaborated with friends on creative endeavors.

One of his favorite projects was co-authoring the novel The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love, and Loss with his mother Gloria Vanderbilt shortly before her passing. It centered on Cooper’s relationship with his famous mother and her troublesome past.

Cooper Didn’t Want To Hide This Any Longer

cooper wearing glasses on a red carpet
J. Countess/Getty Images
J. Countess/Getty Images

Cooper built a career for himself without relying on others to help him succeed. His mother even mentioned that she would not leave a cent for Cooper or his brothers because she thought inheritances were an “initiative sucker.” With all the accolades he’d been receiving, Cooper felt it was time to come clean about a secret he had kept hidden for years.

In a 2012 email exchange between Cooper and political writer Andrew Sullivan, Cooper revealed his true colors, “…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.”

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

benjamin maisani and cooper holding hands
Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images
Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

Anderson Cooper and former boyfriend Benjamin Maisani started their relationship in 2009 and were happy together for the majority of it. In early 2018 Cooper confirmed that he and Maisani had gone their separate ways after there was speculation that things were not going well between them.

The main issue was Cooper’s work. He had told various news outlets that Maisani was constantly annoyed at how much he had to travel and didn’t have much time for the relationship. He ended it saying, “Benjamin and I separated as boyfriends some time ago. We are still family to each other and love each other very much…”

Things Didn’t Work Out With His Next Boyfriend

maisani with his arm around cooper
T B/Pinterest
T B/Pinterest

Most people caught on to Cooper’s breakup with Maisani when he was seen with a new man. He started dating Victor Lopez, a doctor from Dallas, Texas, sometime in 2018. This was confirmed when Lopez posted a photo of the pair on his Instagram account.

About a year later it was announced the two had split. Cooper’s mother had passed away and Lopez was nowhere to be seen, which prompted entertainment outlets to confirm their breakup. As of right now Cooper remains single and is taking a break from relationships.

Cooper Almost Dated Andy Cohen

andy cohen and cooper in times square
Manny Carabel/FilmMagic/Getty Images
Manny Carabel/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Before Cooper became good friends with Bravo personality Andy Cohen, the two were actually set up on a blind date. One of Cooper’s rules for finding a boyfriend is that they cannot mention his mother on the first date and Cohen practically blurted it out when they met.

Many of their friends want them to be together, but the pair feel it would be a bit awkward and uncomfortable as they prefer to remain just friends. During an interview, they actually found out they had dated the same guy at different points in their lives.

Cooper Became A Father In 2020

Cooper and baby
andersoncooper/Instagram
andersoncooper/Instagram

On May 30, 2020, Anderson Cooper made an exciting announcement: he had become a father! He shared this photograph along with a message. “This is Wyatt Cooper. He is three days old. He is named after my father, who died when I was ten. I hope I can be as good a dad as he was.” Cooper added that the baby’s middle name, Morgan, has history on his mother’s side of the family.

He also stated that he was sad that his father and brother Carter weren’t physically present to meet Wyatt but said that he was sure they were watching. “I imagine them all together, arms around each other, smiling and laughing, happy to know that their love is alive in me and in Wyatt, and that our family continues,” he wrote.

He’s Been A Silver Fox For A Long Time

cooper wearing glasses at a movie premiere
Steven Ferdman/Getty Images
Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

When people think of Anderson Cooper it’s hard not to imagine his physical appearance. Although he’s now at an age where it’s expected for his hair to turn grey he didn’t think it would happen as early as it did.

Cooper’s hair started going grey when he was only 20 years old and had turned completely silver by the time he reached 35. He was quite shocked when it happened, but learned to embrace his natural hair color, now known as one of Hollywood’s most famous silver foxes.

He Had A Childhood Learning Disability

cooper with his brother and mother reading in a bed
Jack Robinson/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Jack Robinson/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

When he was a young boy, Cooper started to notice that he wasn’t like the other kids. When his brother would read books Cooper could only pretend to do it. This was because he suffered from the common learning disability called dyslexia.

He revealed this to both Oprah Winfrey and Jay Leno when he was promoting one of his books, talking about how far he’d come since childhood. He stated, “I had trouble reading and making sense of words, in particular letters.”

Give This Man An Award

cooper getting an award
John Shearer/Getty Images
John Shearer/Getty Images

Over the course of his career, Cooper has won several awards for his reporting, including Emmy Awards, GLAAD Media Awards, Peabody Awards, and the National Order of Honour and Merit. This has come from his coverage of events such as the crisis in Haiti, Hurricane Katrina, and Princess Diana’s funeral.

Cooper doesn’t do his job for the recognition, but to make sure the world is aware of what’s really happening around them. These awards prove that his reporting is making an impact on how the public digests news.

He Grew Up In A New York City Mansion

cooper with his brother in their childhood mansion
Horst P. Horst/Getty Images
Horst P. Horst/Getty Images

Many people would do anything to grow up in Cooper’s childhood home. He lived there with his brother Carter Vanderbilt Cooper, mother Gloria Vanderbilt, and father Wyatt Emory Cooper. It was located on 67th Street in New York City and the mansion was a whopping five stories tall.

Vanderbilt’s childhood townhouse in New York City was put on the market for the hefty amount of $50 million. It’s currently divided into three separate units, but can be bought all together. It includes 12 bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, three powder rooms, and a 1,500-square-foot rooftop terrace.

He Was Friends With Charlie Chaplin

charlie chaplin in a movie still from The Gold Rush
Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

Since Cooper’s parents were well known in the New York social scene, they held and attended numerous parties with celebrity guests. He and his brother Carter got to meet some of Hollywood’s most famous faces. One of their good friends was silent filmmaker Charlie Chaplin.

Some of the other people he got to meet included actress Lillian Gish and journalist George Plimpton. Cooper’s father mentioned that their friends treated Cooper and his brother like adults because it belittled them to not be taken seriously.

He Needs Security At All Times

cooper posing at a red carpet event
Mike Coppola/Getty Images
Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Cooper’s rise to fame definitely hasn’t been easy and not everyone is able to respect his privacy. Sometimes when fans see their favorite celebrity in person they go to great lengths to make sure they get their attention. Unfortunately, this has led to some scary circumstances for Cooper.

One day when he was leaving the subway, a fan approached him and started grabbing him so that he’d turn around and talk to her. Another time a fan was upset with Cooper for not responding to her after sending him a teddy bear dressed like him, so she showed up in front of the Time Warner Building where he works.

A First Job To Remember

cooper with his mom and brother
Ron Galella/Getty Images
Ron Galella/Getty Images

Early on in his life, Cooper was told not to rely on an inheritance and to work for his money instead. Other than a little bit of acting and modeling he knew he could make some cash in the food service industry.

He was one of those kids who had a lemonade stand and as he got a bit older he became a waiter at a hip New York restaurant called Mortimer’s. This was where prominent intellectuals, fashion designers, politicians, lawyers, and socialites gathered, so it’s almost guaranteed he earned great tips.

His Net Worth Is Staggering

cooper posing on a red carpet
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Being one of the top TV news anchors in the world does come with its perks. Cooper’s current net worth is estimated to be $100 million, with an average of $12 million per year. Even though his mother said he wouldn’t get an inheritance, about one and a half percent of his net worth comes from his inheritance.

The estate that Vanderbilt left behind after her passing was estimated to be around $200 million and it’s rumored that Cooper will get a large chunk of the money once her affairs are settled.

Long-Time Friend Kathy Griffin Is Out Of The Picture

kathy griffin and cooper in times square
Noam Galai/FilmMagic/Getty Images
Noam Galai/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Fans first noticed Cooper and Kathy Griffin’s friendship after watching them host the CNN New Year’s Eve Live Celebration for at least 10 years in a row. The two almost always had each other’s backs until the day where Griffin decided to post something seemingly off-limits to Cooper online.

Griffin’s post caused major outrage across the United States and even led to a federal investigation. Cooper later tweeted how disgusted he was with what she did and didn’t contact her for at least two months afterward. Without the support of her so-called friend, Griffin decided to end the friendship.

He Saved Someone’s Life

cooper wearing a medal
Thony Belizaire/Getty Images
Thony Belizaire/Getty Images

In 2010 Cooper traveled to Haiti to cover the aftermath of the huge earthquake. While he was reporting, citizens were running around and looting causing major chaos in the streets. When he looked up he saw one of the looters throw a concrete block from the roof of a tall building and hit a young boy in the head.

Cooper was about 100 feet away, but rushed over to the boy and took him over a barricade that was blocking the other looters. He passed him over to a stranger in hopes they could give him immediate medical attention.

His Music Taste Is On Point

jake shears and cooper at a glaad event
Kevin Tachman/WireImage/Getty Images
Kevin Tachman/WireImage/Getty Images

Cooper admitted that one of his favorite music groups of all time is glam-rock band Scissor Sisters. Lead singer Jake Shears briefly dated Cooper in the early 2000s as Shears was set to graduate from college. They lost touch for a bit, but recently connected after Shears’ band became more popular.

After college, Shears was focused on his music and becoming a famous singer, but Cooper wanted him to get a more “realistic” job. Years later Cooper shared that he’s glad Shears didn’t listen to him.

He Had A Silly Childhood Belief

cornelius vanderbilt statue
Collegiate Images via Getty Images
Collegiate Images via Getty Images

When Cooper was a young kid, his mother took him to visit a statue of his great-great-great grandfather Cornelius Vanderbilt at Grand Central Station. Vanderbilt acquired most of his wealth in the railroad and shipping industries, so a statue was erected in his honor.

After looking at the statue, Cooper believed that when any of his relatives passed away they would turn to stone and become statues. He revealed this silly thought in one of his autobiographies called Dispatches from the Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival.

His Father Grew Up Poor

wyatt emory cooper and gloria vanderbilt holding hands
Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

While most know about his heiress mother Gloria Vanderbilt, they sometimes forget about his actor/writer father Wyatt Emory Cooper. His father grew up in a lower-class family in Mississippi and moved to New Orleans when he was a young boy. He attended both UCLA and UC Berkeley, majoring in theater arts and screenwriting.

He later moved to New York City to work as a magazine editor and met his future wife Gloria Vanderbilt. The two married on Christmas Eve 1963. When Anderson Cooper was 10 years old his father underwent open-heart surgery following a heart attack and sadly, didn’t survive.

He Hasn’t Spoken To His Brother In Decades

stan stokowski at a red carpet event
Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic/Getty Images
Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Cooper, unfortunately, lost one of his brothers when he was in his early 20s, but he still has two other half-brothers from his mother’s previous marriages. Leopold Stanislaus “Stan” Stokowski and Christopher Stokowski are far apart in age from Cooper and he didn’t see them much when he was growing up.

Cooper manages to stay close to Stan, but hasn’t seen or heard from Chris since 1978. After an incident with his therapist, he wanted to step away from the family to get some privacy.

He’s A Picky Eater

anthony bourdain and cooper posing for a photo
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Even though Cooper has traveled all over the world and has been exposed to many new cultures it hasn’t affected his diet. He’s actually a very picky eater, preferring to eat only plain-tasting foods. When he was interviewed by the late Anthony Bourdain he said, “Eating is a waste of time.”

Instead, Cooper turns to foods such as oatmeal, salad, salmon, and sushi. He also prefers waffles, but can’t stand pancakes. It took him to his middle-age to finally try what he considered strange foods, including spinach and coffee.

His Acting Credits Will Make You Green With Envy

cooper in a still from batman v superman
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

The camera was ready for Cooper while he was still in diapers. He made his first television appearance as a guest on The Tonight Show when he was three years old. At age nine, he was on a show called To Tell the Truth as an imposter.

Most of his acting credits as an adult have him playing a fictional version of himself in shows such as The Simpsons and movies including Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, The 33, and Chappie. He also played the narrator in the 2011 Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

A Typical Day In The Life For Anderson Cooper

big bird and cooper posing for a photo
Clint Spaulding/Getty Images
Clint Spaulding/Getty Images

In a 2018 article for the Hollywood Reporter Cooper admitted that he doesn’t “really have a life off-air.” He spends almost every day, including weekends, working as a news correspondent for CNN, CBS, and more. “I’d rather be working than doing anything else. It’s like riding the breaking wave of history,” he said.

His typical routine at the office includes going over stories for the broadcast, picking out a Ralph Lauren suit, drinking the meal alternative drink Soylent, and catching up with his friends. When he finally returns to his West Village firehouse, he spends time with his dog and watches TV until at least one or two in the morning.