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Gloria Vanderbilt, fashion designer and socialite, dies at 95

By Annie Martin
Gloria Vanderbilt, fashion designer and socialite, dies at 95
Gloria Vanderbilt, pictured in a photograph for a 1959 acting role on "The United States Steel Hour" in February of that year, died Monday at age 95. Photo by the United States Steel Corporation/Wikimedia Commons

June 17 (UPI) -- Heiress and fashion icon Gloria Vanderbilt has died at age 95.

Vanderbilt's son Anderson Cooper confirmed to CNN the fashion designer and socialite died at her home Monday morning with friends and family by her side.

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"Gloria Vanderbilt was an extraordinary woman, who loved life, and lived it on her own terms," Cooper said in a statement. "She was a painter, a writer and designer but also a remarkable mother, wife and friend. 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."

Cooper, a journalist and television personality who anchors Anderson Cooper 360, honored Vanderbilt in a video obituary that aired Monday on CNN. He said Vanderbilt was battling cancer at the time of her death.

"Earlier this month, we had to take her to the hospital. That's where she learned she had very advanced cancer in her stomach, and that it had spread," Cooper shared.

"What an extraordinary life. What an extraordinary mom. And what an incredible woman," he said.

Vanderbilt was born to Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt, the heir to the Vanderbilt railroad fortune, and Gloria Morgan in February 1924. Her father died the next year, and when Vanderbilt was 10, she was dubbed "poor little rich girl" during "the trial of the century" where her mother lost custody to her paternal aunt Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney.

Vanderbilt modeled and studied acting, and married agent and movie producer Pat DiCicco at age 17 in 1941. She wed conductor Leopold Stokowski in 1945 after divorcing DiCicco, and had two sons, Christopher and Leopold, with Stokowski, who was 42 years her senior.

Vanderbilt pursued acting during her marriage to Stokowski, appearing on Playhouse 90, Studio One in Hollywood and other shows. She married director Sidney Lumet in 1955, and had two sons -- Anderson and Carter, who died by suicide in 1988 -- with her fourth husband, Wyatt Cooper.

Vanderbilt started a career as a fashion designer in the 1970s. Her successful line of designer jeans helped launch her Gloria Vanderbilt collection of clothing, perfumes, accessories and home goods.

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In recent years, Vanderbilt appeared on Cooper's show Anderson Live and in the HBO documentary Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper. She also collaborated with her son on the 2016 book The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love and Loss.

"I'm fascinated by Anderson's interpretation of what [the title] means," Vanderbilt said in an interview with Charlie Rose in 2016. "The rainbow comes and goes -- he believes it goes, that's the end of it. My interpretation is it comes back again."

Notable deaths of 2019

Jerry Herman listens to remarks by U.S. President Barack Obama as the president and First Lady Michelle Obama host the 2010 Kennedy Center Honorees at a reception in the East Room of the White House on December 5, 2010. The Tony-award winning composer died on December 26, 2019, at the age of 88. File Pool Photo by Gary Fabiano/UPI | License Photo

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