Gloria Vanderbilt, Heiress Turned Jeans Designer, Dies At 95 – CBS New York
Vanderbilt was the great-great-granddaughter of financier Cornelius Vanderbilt. Her life was chronicled in sensational headlines from her childhood through four marriages and three divorces.
“Gloria Vanderbilt was an extraordinary woman, who loved life, and lived it on her own terms. 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. She died this morning, the way she wanted to – at home, surrounded by family and friends,” Cooper said in a statement released by CNN.
Vanderbilt died at home with friends and family at her side.
Born in New York in 1924, Gloria Laura Morgan Vanderbilt grew up in France. Her father, financier Reginald Vanderbilt, the heir to a railroad fortune, died when she was a baby.
Young Gloria was the focus of media attention at an early age, dubbed “the poor little rich girl” amid an intense custody battle between her mother and her father’s enormously wealthy sister, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. The latter prevailed in court proceedings.
“As a teenager she tried to avoid the spotlight, but reporters and cameramen followed her everywhere,” Cooper said. “She was determined to make something of her life, determined to make a name for herself, and find the love she so desperately needed.”
Her first marriage was to Hollywood agent Pat DiCicco in 1941, when Vanderbilt was 17.
At 21, she took control of a $4.3 million trust fund her father had left her. She divorced DiCicco two months later, promptly remarried — this time, to conductor Leopold Stokowski — and began pursuing her passions, beginning with her artwork, which she first put on exhibit in 1948.
She had two sons with Stokowski: Leopold Stokowski was born in 1950, and Christopher Stokowski in 1952.
In 1954, she made her stage debut in a production of the romantic drama “The Swan” at the Pocono Playhouse in Mountainhome, Pennsylvania. She published a book of poetry the following year.
She found another avenue for her creativity in the years that followed. Tapping her artwork as a muse, she produced fashion and textile designs that would earn her the 1969 Neiman Marcus Fashion Award, before opening the door to a line of ready-to-wear garments in the mid-1970s.
Under her GV Ltd. brand, she’d go on to sell millions of pairs of jeans bearing her trademark swan logo.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)