Gloria Laura Morgan Vanderbilt (born February 20, 1924) is an American artist, author, actress, heiress, and socialite most noted as an early developer of designer blue jeans. She is a member of the prominent Vanderbilt family of New York and mother of CNN's Anderson Cooper.
Vanderbilt was born in New York City, the only child of railroad heir Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt (1880–1925) and his second wife, Gloria Morgan (1904–1965). She was christened in the Episcopal church as Gloria Laura Vanderbilt (and after her father's death, christened in the Catholic Church, to which her mother belonged). From her father's first marriage to Cathleen Neilson, she had a half-sister, Cathleen Vanderbilt (1904–1944).
She became heiress to a half share in a five million dollar trust fund upon her father's death from cirrhosis when she was 15 months old. The rights to control this trust fund while Vanderbilt was a minor belonged to her mother, who traveled to and from Paris for years, taking her daughter with her. They were accompanied by a beloved nanny young Gloria named "Dodo", who would play a tumultuous part in the child's life, and her mother's identical twin sister Thelma, who was the mistress of The Prince of Wales during this time. As a result of frequent spending, her mother's use of finances was scrutinized by the child Vanderbilt's paternal aunt Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. Whitney, a sculptor and philanthropist, wanted custody of the young heiress and soon a famous custody trial became the lead story of 1934. The trial was so scandalous that at times, the judge would make everyone leave the room so as to listen to what young Vanderbilt had to say without anyone influencing her. Some people heard weeping and wailing inside the court room. Testimony was heard depicting the mother as an unfit parent; Vanderbilt's mother lost the battle and Vanderbilt became the ward of her Aunt Gertrude.