Gloria Laura Vanderbilt (B. February 20, 1924) is a member of the prominent United States Vanderbilt family. She is an accomplished artist, actress, and socialite most noted as a spokeswoman for designer blue jeans.
Vanderbilt is the only child of American railroad heir Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt (1880-1925) and his second wife, Gloria Laura Mercedes Morgan (1904-1965).
She became heiress to a four million dollar trust fund on her father's death, when she was two years old. The rights to control this trust fund while Vanderbilt was a minor belonged to her mother. The child, therefore, became the subject of a custody battle in a famous and scandalous trial in 1934. Testimony was heard depicting her mother as an unfit parent. The testimony included charges of her mother's intention to marry a German prince. A maid testified to seeing the glamorous widow Vanderbilt bathing her feet in Champagne and gave evidence of an apparent lesbian relationship with a member of the British royal family (the Marchioness of Milford Haven (née Nadjeda, Countess Torby). Vanderbilt's mother eventually lost custody to her sister-in-law Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney but litigation continued.
Vanderbilt married Hollywood agent Pasquale DiCicco (""Pat"" DiCicco) in 1941; they divorced in 1945. Her second marriage, to conductor Leopold Stokowski on April 21, 1945 produced two sons, Leopold Stanislaus Stokowski (born 1950) and Christopher Stokowski (born 1955); they divorced in October 1955. Her third marriage took place on August 28, 1956 to director Sidney Lumet; they divorced in August 1963. Her final marriage to author Wyatt Emory Cooper took place on 1964; they had two sons, Carter Vanderbilt Cooper (1965-1988), and CNN reporter and news anchor Anderson Cooper (born 1967). She also has had close relationships with the photographer Gordon Parks and the cabaret singer Bobby Short, as well as Frank Sinatra and numerous other prominent figures, according to her several candid memoirs.
Vanderbilt studied art at the Art Student's League in New York City. She became known for her artwork, giving one-woman shows of oil paintings, watercolors, and pastels. This artwork was adapted and licensed, starting about 1968, by Hallmark (a manufacturer of paper products) and by Bloomcraft (a textile manufacturer), and Vanderbilt began designing specifically for linens, china, glassware and flatware. During the 1970s, she licensed the use of her own name on lines of fashion eyeglasses, perfume and clothing. Initially, her involvement in clothing consisted of putting her name (in place of the previous brand name, ""Lucky Pierre"") on a line of blouses produced by the Murjani Corporation. In 1979, Murjani proposed launching a line of designer jeans carrying Vanderbilt's brand. They were more tightly fitted than other jeans of the time, with the heiress's name in script on the back pocket. Vanderbilt appeared in a series of television ads promoting the product. The designer label flourished, with the Gloria Vanderbilt swan logo eventually appearing on dresses and perfumes as well.
She is a great-granddaughter of Union general Hugh Judson Kilpatrick and a niece of Thelma Morgan, Viscountess Furness, who was the mistress who preceded Wallis, Duchess of Windsor in the affections of Edward VIII of the United Kingdom.