I’m a huge Anderson Cooper fan and was thrilled to hear that he’d be interviewing his famous mom, Gloria Vanderbilt, on his new talk show, Anderson. That moment came on Monday and I am still absorbing one emotional scene in particular in which Cooper and Vanderbilt, 87, open up about a terrible family tragedy.
Back in 1988, Cooper’s 23-year-old brother Carter Vanderbilt Cooper, a Princeton graduate, committed suicide by flinging himself from the 14th-floor terrace of his family’s New York City penthouse apartment. Vanderbilt recalls that day in detail, telling her son, “When he went…I thought he was going to come back, but he didn’t. He let go, and there was a moment when I thought I was going to jump after him.”
“But then I thought of you and it stopped me from doing that,” she continues. At the time, Cooper was just 21 years old.
It’s quite unbelievable that this woman not only survived that fateful day but that here she is, 23 years later, discussing it with Cooper so openly. Not surprisingly, Cooper gets all teary-eyed while listening to his mother speak and, well, it’s just heart-wrenching. “You never get over it, but you learn to live with it,” Vanderbilt admits.
Cooper’s response is just as touching. “You have survived so many things: This custody battle when you were 10 years old, the loss of your father when you were an infant, the loss of Carter, of my dad [author Wyatt Cooper], your husband and so many others,” he says. “It hasn’t made you tough. It hasn’t hardened you. You’re still open to experience and open to new loss and open to new heartbreak and to new love.”
It’s a touching episode, to say the least, and one worth watching. Know that the episode is also filled with much humor and laughter, including an a surprise visit by Kathy Griffin (whom Vanderbilt calls her “fantasy daughter”).