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Gloria Vanderbilt, American Fashion Icon, Has Died

Gloria Vanderbilt, an artist, author, actress and fashion icon, died Monday. She was 95.

Vanderbilt was diagnosed with stomach cancer several weeks ago. 

Her son, Anderson Cooper, announced her death in an obituary that aired on CNN

She was born into the wealthy Vanderbilt family on Feb. 20, 1924, and she became the subject of a high-profile custody case during the Great Depression. She was sent to live with her aunt after her mother — the only family Vanderbilt had known ― lost custody. 

She left the house at 17, marrying a Hollywood agent against her aunt’s wishes.

“She was determined to make something of her life,” Cooper said in the CNN obituary. “Determined to make a name for herself and find the love and family that she so desperately craved.” 

Vanderbilt was married four times, including to conductor Leopold Stokowski and writer Wyatt Emory Cooper.

“I think we should always be in love,” she once told Cooper in an interview.

As an actress, she appeared in numerous TV programs and dramas. She started her career in the fashion industry as a model, then designed her own clothing lines. Her artwork appeared in several exhibitions and was met with critical success. She wrote novels and memoirs, as well as books on art and home decor, and she contributed regularly to national publications.

Vanderbilt was a Renaissance woman of the 20th and 21st centuries, and a constant figure in the public eye.

“Her private self — her real self — that was more fascinating and more lovely than anything she showed the public,” Cooper said. “I always thought of her as a visitor from another world, a traveler stranded here who’d come from a distant star that burned out long ago.”

She was silent for a while when she was first diagnosed with cancer, according to Cooper. 

“Well, it’s like that old song,” she said. “‘Show me the way to get out of this world, because that’s where everything is.’”

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