The Stunning Transformation Of Anderson Cooper

For a lot of us, the name Anderson Cooper is practically synonymous with "the news." The celebrated CNN news reporter has been with the network for decades, and has become a familiar face that many turn to at times of great joy, fear, or even national and international sadness. When one considers Anderson's life, it's really not too surprising that he's well-known in such a global way; after all, he was born into the Vanderbilt family, one of the United States' most famous and wealthiest clans (per Biography). 

While much of Anderson's life has seemed charmed, there have also been great periods of enormous loss. He was only 10 when his father, Wyatt Cooper, unexpectedly died during open heart surgery; ten years later, his brother, Carter Cooper, leapt to his death outside their mother's New York City apartment. Anderson lost his mom, famed socialite, designer, and author Gloria Vanderbilt, in 2019 (via Biography).

Anderson's personal life hasn't been completely tragic, though. In 2020, he achieved a long-time dream and finally became a dad, welcoming Wyatt Morgan Cooper into the world in late April. In February 2022, he announced that his second son, Sebastian Luke Maisani-Cooper, had joined the family. These days, Anderson is quite busy balancing his intense work commitments with his robust family life, but it seems to be a role he cherishes.

Anderson Cooper was born into a famous family

Since he has built his own illustrious career as a journalist and broadcast news reporter, it might be easy to forget that Anderson Cooper was famous from the moment he was born. While his father, Wyatt Cooper, was a successful author and actor, his mother Gloria Vanderbilt was a member of one of the most famous socialite families in the history of the United States. 

As such, it makes sense that Anderson had a childhood that many would not describe as typical. While speaking to People, Anderson explained that his mother's famous friends were often around the house, and he and his brother were never made to feel that they weren't part of the conversation. As he put it, "If famous people were coming over to the house, like Charlie Chaplin or Truman Capote, we would be sitting at the table next to them."

While the two children weren't banished to another part of the home, Anderson adds that there were some expectations put into place. After all, if you're going to spend a lot of time around adults, it's probably a good idea to know how to behave like one — at least a little bit. He said, "We would be expected to kind of learn about who was coming and watch their movies and be able to converse with them."

His father died when he was 10 years old

Sadly, as much as Anderson Cooper's childhood was filled with incredible opportunities, conversations, and experiences with several distinctive guests, it was also marked by extreme tragedy. When Anderson was only 10 years old, his father Wyatt Cooper passed away while undergoing heart surgery.

In an interview with WebMD Magazine, Anderson later explained that he didn't talk about how the loss of his father made him feel — not even with his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt. When he began building a career reporting on the pain and tragedy of others, he realized that by doing so he was able to tap into his own loss. As he told the publication, "I had cauterized my feelings. I wanted to feel — to match my pain with what I was witnessing ... at first, I didn't even realize why I was always covering war. I just felt like a shark that had to stay in motion in order to live" (via Family Lives On).

In 2016, Anderson and his mother co-wrote a book about loss and grief, titled "The Rainbow Comes and Goes." In interviews promoting the book, Anderson directly addressed the topic at hand. He told CNN that the death of his father closed him off in some ways. He explained, "Loss changes you ... The person I was before my father's death, the person I was meant to be was far more open, more interesting than the person I've become."

Anderson Cooper was very close to his mom

After losing his dad so early in life, Anderson Cooper naturally formed a strong connection to his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt. While speaking to People in 2016, Cooper explained that even though his mom wasn't a "typical" kind of mother, she was an incredible mom to him. Still, that doesn't mean that he didn't have moments where he wished his mom was more like his friends' mothers — but only to a point.

As Cooper told the magazine, he would sometimes feel envious when he spent time at his friends' houses, but it wasn't long before he wanted to be back home where he belonged. He said, "[The] idealization of other people's moms would last a very short time. I would start to feel smothered and would be eager to go back to my house because my mom was much more creative and interesting and unconventional."

Cooper also told People that while his childhood might seem unconventional to many, he didn't realize how different it was while he was in the thick of it. As he put it, "And it's only until later on that you realize, 'Oh, wait a minute, not everybody has this. This is an amazing privilege and it was an incredible experience.'"

Anderson Cooper's brother died 10 years after his dad

Tragedy continued to weave its way through Anderson Cooper's incredible life as he grew up. In 1998, his brother Carter Cooper died by suicide, jumping off of the wall of his mother's 14th-floor apartment in New York City. Over 30 years after his brother's death, Anderson revealed that he still thinks about his brother's passing every single day, and admits that it's entirely possible he will never completely understand why it happened.

Anderson has also recounted the day in an essay for CNN, sharing that his brother died on a day that was bright and warm. In the essay, Anderson admits that while he believed he and his brother shared a strong bond, he had no idea that Carter was hurting as deeply as he must have been. He says that not knowing what led to his brother's decision to take his own life is the most haunting aspect of it all, writing, "But many more times there is no clear answer, or not one single reason. Learning to live without knowing why is one of the many things I continue to struggle with."

It seems that Anderson and Carter's mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, was just as surprised by Carter's suicide. As Anderson told People, "Till the day she died (in 2019), we were both still stunned by what happened."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

His first journalism job was with Channel One

When Anderson Cooper made the move into journalism, he did so in a big way. His first job in the role was for Channel One, where he started out as a fact checker. One day, he grew bored with his role and took a camera to Myanmar. The trip was totally on a whim, Cooper later recounted to an audience at American University in 2013, and in order to pull it off he shared that, "I actually made a fake press pass, and I borrowed a camera and I decided to start going to wars by myself" (via the Washington Post). The footage he captured landed him a new role at Channel One as its Chief International Correspondent. The position saw him reporting from countries such as Myanmar, Haiti, and Russia (per Biography and CNN).

In 1995, Cooper took a role at ABC as a news correspondent. He also spent his time at the network hosting its reality show The Mole, as well as serving as the anchor for World News Now (per CNN).

The 9/11 attacks inspired Anderson Cooper to return to the news

The terrorist attacks that took place in the United States on September 11, 2001, were a pivotal moment for a lot of people, and Anderson Cooper was no exception. In fact, he soon felt called to return to his original job in news. Within two years, the network allowed Cooper to launch his own news show called "Anderson Cooper 360," and he has been loyal to CNN ever since. 

As Cooper told Howard Stern in May 2020, there is literally nothing that could pull him away from CNN at this point. This was true even back in 2016, when many believed Cooper might jump ship to come on board as Kelly Ripa's permanent co-host on "Live With Kelly." Before the move could be made, CNN struck a deal with Cooper that will reportedly keep him there for a long time (via CNN).

While the exact amount of his paycheck isn't known, Variety estimates that Cooper is paid $12 million a year from CNN, in addition to any income he earns outside his duties there. With that in mind, it's definitely not too hard to understand why he's so loyal!

In 2002, Anderson Cooper began hosting a popular New Year's Eve show

In 2002, Anderson Cooper began ringing in the New Year with viewers of CNN, and his good friend Andy Cohen joined him in 2017. Viewers have loved watching the pair banter and exchange tidbits on "CNN's New Year's Eve Live" (per CNN Press Room).

In more recent years, Cooper has added quite a few programs and shows at CNN to his roster. He is the host of a twice-weekly digital show called "Full Circle" that airs on CNN+, as well as the host of "Parental Guidance with Anderson Cooper." The latter will draw from Cooper's own experiences as a father of two, and the press release issued by CNN explains that the host will spend much of his time meeting with "experts on how to navigate life as a working father and confront everyday parenting challenges from sleep schedules to screen time." The show also airs on CNN+.

His long career in journalism has definitely resulted in recognition from his colleagues and the world of reporting in general. As shared on his IMDB page, he has earned numerous awards throughout his career, often for his work on his various shows for CNN. These have included Daytime Emmys, GLAAD Media Awards, and more.

The news anchor met Benjamin Maisani in 2009

In 2009, Anderson Cooper met a man who would go on to have a profound impact on his life: now ex-boyfriend and co-parent Benjamin Maisani. The Sun notes that the two didn't go public with their relationship until 2015, (which was three years after Cooper came out as gay publicly, per USA Today), and many were surprised when Cooper revealed they had broken up in 2018. 

Despite ending their romantic relationship, Cooper and Maisani have continued to be very close. In 2018 they were photographed leaving their home together despite being clear they were no longer in a partnership, and Cooper eventually explained to "Entertainment Tonight" that they still had a friendship, saying, "Benjamin and I separated as boyfriends some time ago, we are still family to each other, and love each other very much."

Though the two would fend off rumors that they had resumed their relationship in the years that followed the split, with a source telling Us Weekly that following the birth of Cooper's son Wyatt, the pair reunited. The friend told the magazine, "They very quietly got back together and are planning ahead. Ben is selling one of his clubs and cutting back on how much he does at night so he can spend more time at home with Anderson and the baby."

Anderson Cooper lost his mother in 2019

In 2019, Anderson Cooper's mother Gloria Vanderbilt passed away at the age of 95 following a fight against stomach cancer. Cooper announced the news himself on CNN, eulogizing his mother for the world. He shared that her death came fairly quickly, as he had taken her to the hospital earlier that same month. Once there, the family learned her cancer had spread extensively.

Despite her loss, Cooper went on to explain that his mother received the gift of being able to go out on her own terms with the people she loved most in the world. He explained, "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 and most modern. She died this morning the way she wanted to — at home, surrounded by family and friends" (via YouTube).

Vanderbilt's story was a remarkable one. As her son said, she was thought of as "coming from a time and place that doesn't exist anymore." After a childhood spent estranged from her own mother, Vanderbilt went on to marry four men (and did not remarry after Cooper's father's death in 1978). She gained further notoriety as a fashion designer in the late 1970s, and wrote several books before her passing (per NBC).

Anderson Cooper became a dad in 2020

In May 2020, Anderson Cooper once again took to CNN to deliver some very personal news, but this time around the news was thrilling: He had just welcomed his first baby, a son he named Wyatt Morgan Cooper. Wyatt's birth happened toward the beginning of the pandemic, and Anderson seemed thrilled to be able to offer a little light to a world that was collectively in a dark place.

It was clear that Anderson had entered into a new, happier, more peaceful place as he delivered the news of Wyatt's birth. He explained, "I've never actually said that before, out loud, and it still kind of astonishes me. I am a dad. I have a son. And I want you to meet him" (via YouTube). 

Anderson also shared the news on Instagram and lamented the fact that his mother, father, and brother were not alive to meet little Wyatt, but he added that he believed they were all very happy about is son's arrival, explaining, "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." His son's birth was especially poignant for Anderson, as he also shared that he never believed he would be able to become a father as a gay child. 

His second son was born in 2022

In February 2022, Anderson Cooper once again took to CNN to share some delightful news: He and his ex-boyfriend and co-parent Benjamin Maisani had welcomed their second child, a boy named Sebastian Luke. Cooper took an opportunity on "Anderson Cooper 360" to tell viewers about the newest member of the family, explaining that while he and Maisani are not together romantically, they have chosen to build a family together.

Cooper said that Maisani is currently making sure Wyatt is his son legally, as he has been co-parenting the almost two-year-old for his entire life. As he explained, "Wyatt calls me 'daddy' and Benjamin 'papa.' We're a family. Benjamin is also in the process of adopting Wyatt, whose last name will be changed to Maisani-Cooper as well" (via YouTube).

Following his announcement, Cooper explained that this time around, he's not nearly as worked up about welcoming a baby into his life. He also added that Sebastian has a lot more hair than Wyatt did, and that Wyatt is thrilled to have a baby brother (per People). Little Sebastian has already been introduced to Cooper's longtime friend Andy Cohen, who described the baby as "a peaceful beauty" on Instagram.

Co-parenting isn't a problem for Anderson Cooper and Benjamin Maisani

As is clear from the glimpses of their co-parenting relationship that Anderson Cooper has revealed, the CNN anchor and his ex-boyfriend Benjamin Maisani don't seem to have a difficult time co-parenting their two children at all. While speaking to Ellen DeGeneres in February 2021, Cooper explained that while the arrangement might not work for everyone, it does for the two of them. He said, "We actually still live in the same house because we get along really well and, yeah, it's weird but it works out" (via Oprah Daily).

Fascinatingly, Cooper also revealed that one reason he and Maisani ended their relationship in 2018 was because his ex-boyfriend wasn't sure he wanted to have kids at all, but he's now grown into a tremendous father. In fact, Maisani is emotionally completely invested in their sons, with Cooper adding that while he and Wyatt handled the infant's first vaccinations well, Maisani fell apart. Cooper said, "But I turned around when Wyatt got his first shot, and Benjamin is weeping! He's become this, like, big softie. It's really sweet to see."

Cooper also elaborated on the relationship to People, admitting that the two do have disagreements — but never about anything too major. As he put it, they argue about "silly, minor" things, and always make sure to put their sons first.