June 17, 2019 / 6:24 PM / 2 months ago

CNN's Anderson Cooper remembers mom Gloria Vanderbilt as visitor from 'distant star'

(This story was refiled to add the dropped word “a” in the second paragraph)

FILE PHOTO:Gloria Vanderbilt speaks at a panel for the HBO documentary "Nothing Left Unsaid" during the Television Critics Association Cable Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, California, January 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

(Reuters) - CNN anchor Anderson Cooper remembered his mother, designer and society grand dame Gloria Vanderbilt, as a woman who endured a string of heartbreaks but still remained deeply in love with love.

“I always felt it was my job to protect her. She was the strongest person I ever met but she wasn’t tough,” Cooper said in a seven-minute video obituary on CNN.

“I always thought of her as a visitor from another world, a traveler stranded here who had come from a distant star that had burned out long ago.”

Vanderbilt, who died on Monday at age 95, had been famous her entire life, starting with a legal battle in which her aunt took custody from her mother when “Little Gloria” was a child. She would go on to endure four marriages, three divorces, the death of a husband and the suicide of a son.

Cooper’s obituary featured clips of young Gloria and told how she grew up in France, unaware that she was heir to the Vanderbilt railroad fortune. Portions also were taken from an HBO documentary “Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper.”

When Cooper questioned why she first married a 32-year-old Hollywood figure, Vanderbilt told him, “Sweetheart, I was only 17.”

His mother “trusted too freely, too completely” but always pressed on, Cooper said, and always believed that the next true love was just around the corner.

“She was always in love - in love with men or with friends or books and art, in love with her children and her grandchildren and then her great-grandchildren,” Cooper said. “Love is what she believed in more than anything.”

Cooper said his mother learned earlier this month that she had advanced and spreading stomach cancer. Her response was to cite a 1950 hit song by Peggy Lee with the lyrics “show me the way to get out of this world because that’s where everything is.”

The CNN report included a video Cooper shot in a hospital after the diagnosis as he and his mother broke into laughing fits over a joke. Cooper said that was when he realized they had the same giggle. He said he still giggles every time he watches that video.

Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Susan Thomas

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