“Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper” is a documentary film that premieres on HBO on April 9, 2016. The mother and son duo have lived much of their lives in the headlines. The film, directed by Liz Garbus, is a candid look at a fascinating story a life of highs and lows. Variety reviewed the Sundance film, calling it entertaining but a somewhat superfluous recap of a much examined life. The film, and the relationship between Vanderbilt and Cooper, were featured in the Feb. issue of Vogue.
Gloria Vanderbilt, now 91, has lived in the public eye for nine decades. Vanderbilt and her son, famed newscaster Anderson Cooper, tell the story of her life in a series of candid conversations, home videos, correspondence and photographs. Anderson Coopers says “She’s got this public face, but the reality of her life is so different.”
Vanderbilt has had a lifelong passion for art and continues to paint every day as a means of self expression. It is one of the ways she copes with what she calls “the grief for lost places of your past.” The film shows her creating her art as she talks about her life and revisits the “lost places,” with encouragement from her son.
Gloria Vanderbilt is the daughter of Reginald Vanderbilt and his teenage wife Gloria Morgan. Reginald Vanderbilt died when Gloria was just 15 months old, her first tragic loss. Her mother was an elusive creature who left Gloria to be raised by her beloved nurse, Dodo.
In 1934, when Gloria was 10 years old, there was a bitter custody battle between her mother and her aunt Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. Her mother was vilified as having a gay Parisian lifestyle. Custody of Gloria, who was called the ‘poor little rich girl,’ was awarded to her aunt.
Gloria grew up fast. When she was 15 she was photographed for Harper’s Bazaar. When she was 17 she was living a largely unsupervised life in Hollywood, dating big movie stars like Ray Milland and Errol Flynn.
Gloria’s first marriage was to 32 year old agent Pasquale De Cicco, who was physically abusive. The marriage was short lived.
When Gloria was 20, she married conductor Leopold Stokowski. The couple were married for 12 years and had two sons, Stan and Chris. There was a court battle for custody of the boys, which Gloria won. She had a romance with Frank Sinatra.
Gloria married famed movie director Sidney Lumet (“12 Angry Men”), a union that lasted for seven years. Gloria reflects that she had a lifelong fear of abandonment that caused her to end relationships before the other person left her.
Marriage to Wyatt Cooper in 1963 gave her a measure of domestic tranquility. Her husband encouraged Gloria to reconcile with her estranged mother. The couple had two sons, Anderson and Carter. The family suffered a blow with Wyatt Cooper died during heart bypass surgery in 1978. Gloria Vanderbilt was down but not out. She launched her highly successful line of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans.
In 1988, her 23 year-old son Carter committed suicide by jumping from the terrace of her Manhattan penthouse while she pleaded with him not to jump. As with many families of suicide, she continues to struggle with the tragedy.
Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt visit the side-by-side graves of Wyatt Cooper and Carter Cooper on a snowy day. Anderson alludes the family tragedies and his news work in war zones when he comments, “Sometimes you live in a world where there isn’t any ‘why.'”
A book of correspondence between Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt, “The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love and Loss,” will be released by HarperCollins Publishers on April 5.
“Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper” has several air dates on HBO. The film, which debuted at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, will also air on CNN on April 29, 2016.