Gloria Vanderbilt, a 20th-century icon who was an heiress, author, fashion maven and businesswoman, died Monday in Manhattan. She was 95.
Her death was confirmed by her TV journalist son, Anderson Cooper (b. 1967).
Born February 20, 1924, she was initially famous as the subject of a custody brawl between her mother and her father's sister, due to her Vanderbilt trust fund. Vanderbilt was taken from her mother, who was declared unfit in a sensational "trial of the century" that was the subject of the 1980 book Little Gloria ... Happy at Last.
As a student, Vanderbilt became known as a model, and for her art, but for several years in the '50s and '60s, she devoted herself to acting, mainly in the theater as a student of Sanford Meisner (1905-1997).
It was in the '70s that Vanderbilt seemed to find her ultimate calling, as the businesswoman behind an early line of pricy designer jeans with a distinctive swan logo. She also marketed a fragrance and other clothing and accessories before cashing out with the Murjani Group and continuing with her own brand, focusing on fragrances.
Her good fortune ended in the '80s amid a fraud trial against her partners.
Vanderbilt went on to create art and to write books about comfortable living. Notably, she also co-authored The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love and Loss in 2016, a memoir written with Anderson Cooper about the suicide of her son, his brother Carter Vanderbilt (1965-1988).
Anderson Cooper and his mother were also the subjects of Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper, a 2016 documentary.
Vanderbilt married four times — to mobster Pat DiCicco (1909-1978), conductor Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977), director Sidney Lumet (1924-2011) and author/actor Wyatt Emory Cooper (1927-1978). She divorced three times and was widowed when Cooper died during heart surgery.
She is survived by Cooper and two other sons.