Tragic Details About Anderson Cooper

The following article includes mentions of suicide.

One of America's most recognizable faces, Anderson Cooper, a renowned journalist and proud father of two, emerged from a life that was marked by tragedy despite his privilege. Born into the prominent Vanderbilt family, Cooper's youth was marred by the sudden death of his father and then his brother, leaving Anderson grappling with profound grief and questions with no answer.

The Vanderbilt family history is filled with tragedy. Anderson's mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, was born to Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt, the son of a railroad magnate who amassed a fortune during the Gilded Age. Reginald passed away when Gloria was just a baby, leaving her with a teenage mother who couldn't commit to raising her. Later in life, after three failed marriages, Gloria met Wyatt Cooper and had two sons, Anderson and Carter Cooper. The foursome lived a seemingly idyllic life until Wyatt's untimely death.

In an effort to cope with the deep-seated trauma resulting from the losses in his immediate family, Anderson launched a podcast, "All There Is With Anderson Cooper," in 2022, where he delves into different types of losses and how to deal with the grief left behind. He also regularly pens personal texts on the topic for various publications in hopes of shedding light on the often stigmatized conversation about loss and sadness. 

Anderson Cooper was forever changed by the loss of his father

In 1978, when Anderson Cooper was just 10 years old, his father, Wyatt Cooper, died of multiple consecutive heart attacks that occurred during open-heart surgery. This marked the beginning of Anderson's lifelong struggle to cope with grief. "After the shock of my dad's death, I withdrew deep into myself," Anderson shared on an episode of his CNN podcast, "All There Is With Anderson Cooper" (via The New York Post).

In a candid conversation on Sirius XM's "The Howard Stern Show" in 2023, Anderson opened up about dealing with the loss of his father, admitting that he never properly processed the grief but rather forged ahead with life. "It's only recently, in the last several months, that I've suddenly realized, 'Oh my God, there is an ocean [of what I have] pushed deep down,'" the journalist poignantly shared. When hosting CNN's special segment, "The Person Who Changed My Life," Anderson got personal about the experience, sharing that he believes he might have become a better person if his father had not passed away as early as he did (via HuffPost).

In 2023, Anderson penned an article for CNN announcing the second season of his podcast, delving into the unexplored depths of his lingering sadness. In the text, Anderson dissected his father's essay, "The Importance of Grieving," written decades ago, recognizing that his avoidance of grief had rendered him emotionally numb to both sorrow and joy. "I don't want to do that any longer. I want to feel all there is," Anderson concluded.

He never got over his brother's death

A decade after the death of his father, Anderson Cooper faced another heartbreaking tragedy within his immediate family. In 1988, Anderson's brother, Carter Cooper, aged 23, died by suicide. According to a New York Times report, Cooper jumped off of his mother's penthouse terrace in New York City, located on the 14th floor of the building.

At only 21 years old, Anderson was profoundly affected by the loss of his brother. In a 2005 interview with New York Magazine, Anderson shared that the losses of his father and brother played a pivotal role in steering him towards a career in journalism. That same year, he reiterated the sentiment in a heartfelt text for CNN, explaining that he sought solace in covering war-torn countries as a way to find external pain that mirrored the internal anguish he was experiencing.

In 2018, Anderson candidly shared his experience of losing Carter in another CNN piece, describing the close bond the brothers shared in their childhood. He admitted: "I didn't see the pain he was in. And when I did get a glimpse of it, it scared me so much I didn't know how to help." Reflecting on the anniversary of Carter's death in a poignant Instagram tribute in 2019, Anderson wrote: "It is still hard to imagine, hard to comprehend. Not a day goes by when I do not think of him and miss him terribly."

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The journalist was stalked twice by different men

Anderson Cooper is, unfortunately, no stranger to strangers harassing him, as the journalist experienced stalking on two separate occasions. The first incident occurred in 2007, when Alex Hausner, a man diagnosed with schizophrenia, began appearing at Cooper's doorstep and following him around town. Hausner continued to do this for six years until his arrest in 2013. During court testimony, the man claimed he believed someone else orchestrated the chance meetings. "Stalker is the furthest thing from what I am," he said (via Hello!). "I'm sorry that he feels that way. He was never in any danger. I would die for him."

Hausner entered a guilty plea in 2014 and managed to avoid incarceration by receiving credit for time served. Instead, he was placed on a five-year probation and required to undergo mandatory psychiatric treatment.A year later, he accused Cooper's then-partner, Benjamin Maisani, of orchestrating online harassment, but the allegations were never substantiated.

Seven years later, Cooper was subjected to stalking and harassment yet again. According to the New York Post, a man named Gerald Hurt repeatedly attempted to break into Cooper's NYC home between August and December, even after a restraining order had been issued against him. Hurt was sentenced to 30 days in jail, along with a five-year restraining order.

The loss of his mother hit Anderson Cooper hard

In 2019, Anderson Cooper's mother, fashion designer and artist Gloria Vanderbilt, died at the age of 95 from stomach cancer. Cooper, who had been exceptionally close to her since childhood, especially after the loss of his brother in 1988, was by her side during her final moments. In a heartfelt tribute confirming his mother's death on CNN, Cooper shared that the nine days spent with his mother after her cancer diagnosis were the most cherished of his life. He poignantly added: "She was . . . the last person who knew me from the beginning. They're all gone, and it feels very lonely right now. I hope they are at least together."

The mother-son duo had a special connection, with Vanderbilt's motherly love knowing no boundaries. During an appearance on "The Howard Stern Show," Cooper shared that Vanderbilt, 85 years old at the time, wanted to serve as a surrogate for his child. While the plan never materialized, Cooper and Vanderbilt continued to nurture their bond, with Cooper providing his mother with dating advice well into her old age. "My mom was extraordinarily unique, and I miss that uniqueness in my life," he shared in an interview with People.

Cooper often shares heartwarming homages to Vanderbilt on his Instagram account, reminiscing about their time together. To honor his mother a year after her death, Cooper wrote, "She is alive in my heart and in the hearts of all who knew her and loved her."

Anderson Cooper is determined to overcome his sadness for his two children

After seven years of dating, Anderson Cooper and Benjamin Maisani, a nightclub owner, called it quits for good in 2018, according to a Daily Mail report. Although the specific reasons for their breakup remain undisclosed, Cooper shared in a statement, "We remain the best of friends and will continue to share much of our lives together." While the relationship may not have lasted, the ending wasn't all tragic; the duo continued to live together and even welcomed a child together in 2020, a boy named Wyatt Morgan.

While the former couple couldn't get on the same page about having children when they were together, when Maisani expressed interest in being a dad, Cooper felt inclined to include him, People reported. A year later, Cooper opened up to the outlet about their unconventional arrangement, explaining that the duo sees each other as family, so the co-parenting step wasn't weird for them. "I would want Wyatt to be surrounded by love," Cooper noted. In 2022, they expanded their family with another baby, a boy named Sebastian Luke.

Despite the grief he still lives with, Cooper is dedicated to being the best version of himself for his two children. Cooper welcomed his first child just one year after his mother's death, and her memory serves as an inspiration for his own parenting. "I used to see this sadness behind my mom's eyes. I want my kids to not see that behind my eyes," he told The New York Times. He added, "I don't want it to be behind my eyes anymore."