- Anderson Cooper learned the hard way that being a famous person’s kid wasn’t enough to earn him recognition in his own right.
- Cooper’s experience as a waiter taught him humility and the importance of working in the service industry.
- Despite his mother’s wealth, Gloria Vanderbilt did not believe in leaving an inheritance, wanting her children to make their own way in life.
Anderson Cooper is one of the most well-recognized names in journalism today, but it wasn’t always like that. Despite growing up with a famous mom — none other than Gloria Vanderbilt — Anderson had to learn the hard way that being a famous person’s kid wasn’t enough to earn him recognition — especially when he was at work and wearing a uniform.
Anderson’s mother rubbed elbows with plenty of famous people during her career as an actress, fashion designer, heiress, and “socialite,” but her son didn’t always benefit from it. Anderson related his experiences as a teen to Stephen Colbert during an interview and revealed something that was surprising to him, but not to people of non-celebrities.
Anderson Cooper Was Once Snubbed By Brooke Astor
Because Anderson Cooper’s late mother was one of the rich and famous, Anderson Cooper grew up around other celebrities. Long before he was embarrassed by pop icon Madonna, Cooper explained to Stephen Colbert, he once met Brooke Astor at a restaurant called Mortimer’s.
Anderson recalled that his mother didn’t like Brooke Astor; his mom apparently explained that she “never grabbed me,” calling the socialite “understated and waspy.” What’s more, Cooper’s late mother also called Brooke’s husband Vincent Astor “dreadful.”
However Anderson’s mom felt about the rich folks, her son was still a “scion of the Vanderbilts,” as Colbert explained; the family was known for its money and scandals. Yet that didn’t work out so well for him once he got a job as a waiter in his teens.
Anderson had met Brooke “several times” by the time he greeted her while working at Mortimer’s one day, and while she seemed about to smile, the expression dropped off her face as soon as her eyes moved to Anderson’s waiter’s outfit.
Anderson reflected that he had already known he was essentially a nobody unless he was next to his famous mom, and he and Stephen both reflected that working in the service industry was a great thing for everyone to do for the experience — AKA learning humility.
Stephen And Anderson Shared Their Waiter Experiences
Stephen Colbert is also a mega-name in late-night TV these days, but like Anderson, he also got his start in the service industry. Stephen shared that he was a waiter for five years back in his day, spinning a tray and stacking plates to show his prowess during the interview.
Anderson confessed that he was a terrible waiter who was disorganized and therefore couldn’t get things done quickly. He also related that he worked the patio service and that he would be horrendously sweaty while running around trying to keep his customers happy.
He still looked back fondly on the experience, but Anderson did note that he would probably be a better waiter today, having learned time management over the years. Of course, Cooper never had to work, so it’s unclear why he was working at a high-end establishment when he was the son of one of the most famous actresses of the time.
Anderson Cooper’s Family Was “Old Money”
By the time Anderson Cooper was born, his mother was already a millionaire, but not due to her talent or fame. Rather, Gloria Vanderbilt inherited a trust fund as a child that was worth the equivalent of about $73 million today.
Unfortunately for her children, Gloria reportedly did not believe in leaving an inheritance, though she was worth around $200 million at the time of her death in 2019. In one interview, Anderson himself told Howard Stern that there was “no trust fund,” and that his mother had made it clear enough.
Yet Anderson’s mom didn’t withhold an inheritance because she didn’t love her four children (Anderson has siblings; the late Carter Vanderbilt Cooper, Leopold Stanislaus Stokowski, and Christopher Stokowski).
I don’t believe in inheriting money… I think it’s a curse… From the time I was growing up, if I felt like there was some pot of gold waiting for me, I don’t know if I would have been so motivated. – Anderson Cooper
Rather, Gloria had struggled so much in life due to her family’s wealth that she wanted her children to make their own way. Anderson also had the traumatic experience of losing his father at a young age, so didn’t have other parental support.
One of Gloria’s sons (Carter) committed suicide in 1988, and another (Christopher) was estranged from the family, which left Anderson and Leopold potentially receiving some of their late mom’s money.
Despite Vanderbilt’s wishes not to leave an inheritance, it’s been reported that Anderson did receive about $1.5 million from his mother’s estate.
Still, Cooper was left with positive memories of his mother — and wrote her a eulogy to suit — including the fact that Gloria Vanderbilt offered to become a surrogate for her son had he not been able to have children.
Vanderbilt was, however, 85 already at the time, but the fact that she wanted Anderson to have children so badly inspired her offer. Regardless of how fame impacted Anderson’s early years, it clearly did not harm his relationship with his mother, and not having her money set him up to work hard in life.