Acclaimed journalist Anderson Cooper announced that he became a father on April 30 with the help of a surrogate. This is the first child for Cooper, who will turn 53 next month.
Cooper posted the news on Instagram, saying, “As a gay kid, I never thought it would be possible to have a child, and I’m grateful for all those who have paved the way, and for the doctors and nurses and everyone involved in my son’s birth. Most of all, I am grateful to a remarkable surrogate who carried Wyatt, and watched over him lovingly, and tenderly, and gave birth to him.”
Cooper does not currently have a partner and is entering fatherhood as a single dad. He named the baby, Wyatt Morgan Cooper for his family, he said in the post. His father was Wyatt Emory Cooper, and he said he found a list of possible baby names his parents had made for him. The name Morgan was on it, he said. Morgan was also a family name on his famous mother, Gloria Vanderbilt’s side.
Both of Cooper’s parents are dead, as is one of his brothers, Carter. Cooper wrote, “I do wish my mom and dad and my brother, Carter, were alive to meet Wyatt, but I like to believe they can see him. I imagine them all together, arms around each other, smiling and laughing, happy to know that their love is alive in me and in Wyatt and that our family continues.”
Here is what you need to know about Anderson Cooper’s family:
1. Anderson Cooper’s Parents Came From Very Different Backgrounds
Anderson Cooper’s mom, Gloria, was born into the Vanderbilt family, one of the richest families in America in the 1800s and early 1900s who made their fortune in the railroad business. She was raised in the spotlight and among the high society of the Gilded Age. His father, Wyatt, was born in a small town Mississippi into a large, messy, but loving family of modest means, according to a book he published in 1975 called, Families: A Memoir and a Celebration.
Cooper left Mississippi for college in Los Angeles where he studied acting. He worked as an actor for a while before moving to New York where he focused more on his career as a writer. Vanderbilt and Cooper married in 1963 and had two sons together, Carter and Anderson.
Cooper was Vanderbilt’s fourth husband but it was the first marriage for him. Vanderbilt told the Telegraph, “We had the family life that I’d always wanted. He made me understand what it would have been like to have had a father—he was a most amazing father. I’d never experienced anything like it. I’d be married to him today if he had not died.”
Vanderbilt’s father died when she was a baby, and Cooper died in 1978 at the age of 50 during open-heart surgery. When the New York Times asked Anderson Cooper who he would “break bread” with if he could have a meal with anyone who is no longer with us, he wrote about his father, who passed away when Cooper was 10.
After a while, no matter how much you love someone, no matter how hard you try to remember, you start to forget little details — the sound of their voice, the way they smell, the look in their eyes when they smile and laugh. If I could see my father just once more, sit down and talk with him, look into his crystal blue eyes, feel the safety of his arms around me, I would give anything for that.
So if I could see my father one last time, I’d be sure to ask him the most important question of all: What should I do next? What path forward should I take? How should I live out these years I never expected to have, these years he never lived to see?
2. Anderson Cooper’s Brother Jumped Off of a Balcony in Front of Their Mother
In the second great tragedy to the Cooper family after Wyatt’s unexpected death was when his older brother Carter killed himself in 1988 by jumping off a 14th story building while their mother was pleading for him to get off the ledge. Carter was 23. According to the New York Times Carter had been getting treatment for depression.
In 2005 Anderson wrote about his brother, an elder by two years. He said he always thought they were close growing up, but after his brother killed himself he wasn’t so sure. It was hard to reconcile the brother he knew with someone who would abruptly kill himself in such a way. He said Carter sat on the ledge of his mother’s balcony, his feet dangling high above the pavement below. He said he’s not sure if Carter heard their mother’s pleas to get down, but he pushed himself off — caught himself for a moment, and then he let go.
Anderson described Carter as having a passion for politics but being someone who is “gentle”- not das thickskinned as someone who gets into politics needs to be. Anderson said his brother felt things deeply. Carter graduated from Princeton but did not live long enough to build a career or a family.
Carter Cooper is buried next to their father Wyatt.
3. Anderson Cooper & His Mother Became Close After Carter’s Death and Remained That Way Until She died Last Year
When Carter killed himself in 1988, Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt were all that was left of their nuclear family, thought Vanderbilt had two other sons from a previous marriage — More on that later. Cooper was only 21 and still in college when his brother died.
He told People, “I think it obviously brought us together in ways and I think you can’t help but come closer going through something like that, and, you know, it left us with each other. And, I think it’s still hard to believe it’s been so long because I think it’s still so present in our lives, that sense of loss.”
The mother and son published a book together in 2016 called The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son On Life, Love, and Loss which Harper Collins describes as “a correspondence of surprising honesty and depth in which they discuss their lives, the things that matter to them, and what they still want to learn about each other.”
That same year they produced a documentary for HBO called “Nothing Left Unsaid” that chronicled the long and fascinating life of Vanderbilt. “She’s the last in my family alive so I don’t want there to be anything left unsaid between us,” Cooper said in the documentary.
Vanderbilt died from cancer in June of 2019, nine days after learning she had cancer. Cooper gave a public eulogy to his mom on CNN saying, “One of her friends explained her sadness by describing my mom as her north star — the person she used as a guide — a kind of light in the darkness. I never realized until now how much she was my north star as well, and right now things seem a lot less bright and magical without her.”
Cooper said in his mother’s last days she told him, “You and I, it’s a match made in heaven.” He replied, “We’re a good team.”
4. Cooper Has Two Half Brothers From One of His Mom’s Previous Marriages
Gloria Vanderbuilt had two sons before she met and married Wyatt Cooper from her second husband, the famous conductor Leopold Stokovski. According to Town & Country the two met in 1945 and were married for 10 years. Stokovski was more than 40 years older than Vanderbilt.
In 1950 the couple had a son who they named for his father, Leopold. Another son was born to the couple, Christopher, but little is know about him as he became estranged from the family in 1978, reportedly because of something having to do with Vanderbilt’s therapist interfering in Christopher’s love life.
Leopold is said to have owned landscaping businesses in New York and New England and Christopher is reportedly a musician. According to the New York Post, Christopher and Cooper rekindled some kind of relationship after the HBO documentary came out.
The NY Post reported that when Vanderbilt died she left nothing to Christopher, though, and left the majority of her estate to Cooper, with a few concessions for Leopold.
5. Anderson Cooper’s Newborn Son Is His Only Living Immediate Relative
With the birth of his first son, Cooper now has a new family after losing his father, brother, and mother. He spoke on his CNN show Anderson Cooper 360 about becoming a dad.
“On Monday I became a father,” Cooper said. “I’ve never actually said that before out loud and it still kind of astonishes me. I’m a dad. I have a son and I want you to meet him.”
Cooper then showed pictures of the baby and spoke about how he named Wyatt for his family in a similar way to what he wrote in his Instagram post about naming the then three-day-old baby, “He is named after my father, who died when I was ten. I hope I can be as good a dad as he was. My son’s middle name is Morgan. It’s a family name on my mom’s side.”
Baby Wyatt weighed 7.2 lbs at birth. Cooper described him as “sweet, and soft, and healthy” and said he is “beyond happy.”