Anderson Cooper opens up about brother, fathers’ deaths

Anderson Cooper is getting candid about two major events that transformed his life.

The broadcaster, 55, took a tour of his late mother Gloria Vanderbilt’s New York City apartment during a recent episode of his CNN podcast, “All There Is with Anderson Cooper,” and looked back at some painful memories.

The news anchor shared how the passing of his father, Wyatt Cooper, in 1978 and the suicide of his older brother Carter a decade later, both had a profound impact on him.

“Both of their deaths really changed me forever,” Cooper explained about losing his family. “I feel like a shadow of the person I was or was meant to be. After the shock of my dad’s death, I withdrew deep into myself. And 10 years later, when my brother died, I went deeper still.”

“This place has a lot of memories for me,” he said while walking through his mother’s home. “A lot of memories of people who are no longer here. Just coming here, frankly, is hard.”

Carter was just 23 when he died — by jumping from the 14th-floor terrace of Vanderbilt’s Manhattan penthouse apartment.

Wyatt Emory Cooper and his wife Gloria Vanderbilt Cooper sit with their sons, Carter and Anderson Cooper in 1972.
Getty Images

Anderson was just 10 years old when his father passed from a fatal heart attack.

He added that his mother — who died in June 2019 at 95 — tried to remain optimistic despite all the death and trauma surrounding her.

The journalist looked to Vanderbilt many times for strength and recalled her being strong-willed.

“My mom, she never asked, ‘Why me?’ ‘Why did this happen to me?’ She would always say, ‘Why not me?’ Why should we be exempt from the pain of living and losing?’” he said.

 CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt attend the premiere of "Nothing Left Unsaid" at the Time Warner Center in New York. Vanderbilt, the "poor little rich girl" heiress at the center of a scandalous custody battle of the 1930s and the designer jeans queen of the 1970s and '80s, died on Monday, June 17, 2019, at 95, according to her son, Cooper. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)
Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt attend the premiere of “Nothing Left Unsaid” at the Time Warner Center in New York in 2016.
Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

The father of two went on: “That term ‘survivor’ to me always implies that brassy ballsy cabaret singer belting out ‘I’m still here, damn it!’ and yet that wasn’t her. She was a survivor but that’s not how she survived at all. It didn’t morph her into something harder.”

In order to help cope with his losses, Anderson decided to change his surroundings.

LONG ISLAND, NY - MARCH 30: Socialite and heiress  Gloria Vanderbilt poses for a portrait session with her sons Anderson Cooper (left) and Carter Vanderbilt Cooper on a bed in their home on March 30, 1972 in Southampton, Long Island, New York. (Photo by Jack Robinson/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Gloria Vanderbilt poses for a portrait session with her sons Anderson Cooper and Carter Vanderbilt Cooper in their home on March 30, 1972, in Southampton, Long Island.
Getty Images

“I felt like I couldn’t speak the same language as other people, and I ended up heading to Somalia and Bosnia and South Africa and Rwanda, places where the language of loss was spoken and the pain that I was feeling inside was matched by the pain all around me,” he noted.

“I think that’s how I learned how to survive, but still I find it hard to talk about my dad and my brother. It’s been 34 years since Carter’s suicide and the violence of it, the horror of it, it stuns me still.”

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