Anderson Cooper’s Brother’s Death Changed His Life ‘Trajectory’ & Left ‘Questions’

The Vanderbilt family was thrown into a state of mourning in 1988 after their loved one, Carter Vanderbilt Cooper, died after jumping off a building. His passing changed TV Personality Anderson Cooper’s life. 

American Broadcast Journalist Anderson Cooper, 54, sadly lost his brother, Carter Vanderbilt Cooper, over 33 years ago on July 22, 1988. In an interview with People, the icon revealed how losing his brother changed his life’s trajectory at a young age.

Carter’s death at the time was ruled as a suicide after he jumped from the fourteenth-floor terrace wall of their mother, Gloria Vanderbilt’s Manhattan apartment. 

Anderson Cooper and Carter Vanderbilt Cooper with their mother Gloria Vanderbilt on Gloria’s bed in their NY apartment, 1976 [left]. TV personality Anderson Cooper carrying his son, Wyatt [right] | Photo: Getty Images || instagram/andersoncooper

Speculations regarding the reason for Carter’s suicide made the rounds. Anderson speculated that Carter took his own life because he was depressed over the breakup with a girlfriend. 

On the other hand, the deceased’s mother believed that a new allergy medication, which her son took, might have caused a psychotic reaction.

None of these facts were proven to be accurate, and the world was left in the dark, wondering about the possible cause of Carter’s suicide decision. At the time of his death, the young man was only 23 years old.

Gloria Vanderbilt and her two sons, Carter Vanderbilt Cooper and Anderson Cooper in New York in March 1976 | Photo: Getty Images


As children, Anderson and Carter shared a very close bond, spending a lot of time together. The latter was fascinated with military history and always led their childhood campaigns. 

Anderson was disappointed when Carter died. He felt the incident was strange and questioned his bond with the deceased. Carter regularly confided in Anderson, so not revealing the source of his depression broke his brother’s heart.


His departure was a double blow to the family since it occurred on the tenth anniversary of their father, Emory Cooper’s death. Anderson later struggled with living longer without his brother than he had with him. He added:

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about what he would be doing.”

Gloria Vanderbilt poses for a portrait session with her sons Anderson Cooper and Carter Vanderbilt Cooper in their home in circa 1969 in Southampton, Long Island, New York | Photo: Getty Images

Furthermore, the television personality admitted that he still thought about Carter’s death and questioned it. He also said his mother, until her death in 2019, found it difficult to come to terms with Carter’s death.

Anderson revealed they were both still stunned until the day she died. The star confessed that he had to find a way to carry on living, even though there were things that had gone unanswered.


Sadly, Anderson’s mental health was not the only thing his brother’s death affected. The sad incident also accelerated the news anchor’s career as a journalist. Following Carter’s death, Anderson visited various new places.

While he traveled, he tagged along with him a home video camera and a fake press pass. Anderson visited Thailand, Vietnam, Bosnia, Rwanda, Somalia, and Burma. He captured his experiences and turned them into video journals.

The video journals were transformed into reports in no distant time and sold to a close circuit classroom news network called Channel One. Although the experiences were adventurous, Anderson was filled with pain, hence his decision to travel to countries suffering or experiencing conflict.

The star has suffered significant losses in his life and has lost all his immediate family members. Despite the tragedy he has gone through, Anderson started his own family. 

The CNN journalist has a son, Wyatt, almost two years old, born via surrogate. The toddler is co-parented by Anderson and his ex-boyfriend Benjamin Maisani, 48. 

Like many celebrities, the star has spoken candidly about how he plans to raise Wyatt and instill morals and discipline. In September, Anderson was a guest on “The Morning Meeting Podcast.” During his appearance, he relayed that he would not be leaving his son an inheritance. 

The broadcaster, who has an estimated net worth of 200 million dollars, noted that he did not believe in passing on huge amounts of money to children.

According to Anderson, his interest in money was minimal. However, he had no intentions of leaving a “pot of gold” for Wyatt. The father of one said he would pay for his son’s college fees, and after that, Wyatt would move on with his life and work for his money.

From Anderson’s confessions, his surprising decision was a part of his family’s standards. His mother, Gloria, made it clear to him as a child that there was no trust fund waiting for him. 

Anderson said having that thought in his mind kept him motivated. According to the star, if he had grown up with the thoughts of having a fortune in store for him, his life would have panned out differently.

The anchor has since written a book titled “Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty.” The book, co-written by Katherine Howe, came out on September 21, and it tackles the story of how Anderson’s ancestors were wealthy and lost it all. 

Being a Vanderbilt, Anderson was born into a famous family. His great great great grandfather Cornelius “The Commodore” Vanderbilt was a transportation magnate. At the time of his death in 1877, The Commodore was America’s richest man. 

Upon his demise, Cornelius left behind a hundred million dollars. The succeeding generations became obsessed and squandered the fortune rather than put a huge amount into good use. 

Due to the nature of his family history, Anderson was bent on disassociating himself from it. He worked hard personally and professionally to make a name for himself and be recognized for his impact.

Anderson has revealed that he is not obsessed with money like his ancestors. But he understands the drive to make a name for oneself, try to create something in one’s chosen field, and do things that feel important. 

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