Name at birth: Anderson Hays Vanderbilt Cooper
Anderson Cooper is the silver-haired and multi-talented TV journalist who began hosting the CNN news show Anderson Cooper 360° in 2003. Anderson Cooper was "born into fame in New York City," as Life magazine once put it. His mother was socialite Gloria Vanderbilt, heir to the Vanderbilt fortune, and his father was the writer and editor Wyatt Emory Cooper. Anderson Cooper went to school in Manhattan and graduated from Yale with a degree in political science in 1989. After a few years spent traveling and dabbling in freelance journalism -- including a year in Hanoi learning to speak Vietnamese -- Cooper hooked on as a correspondent with ABC News in 1995. Blue-eyed, calm, and occasionally whimsical, with a slender face and distinctive salt-and-pepper hair, Cooper was naturally telegenic. By 1999 he was a co-anchor of ABC's overnight news program World News Now. He made a foray into entertainment, hosting the ABC "reality" show The Mole for two seasons, then joined CNN as a weekend anchor in December of 2001, just months after the 9/11 attacks. In 2003 he began hosting his signature nighttime news show, Anderson Cooper 360°. He made a name for himself covering the ongoing war in Iraq and, in 2005, Hurricane Katrina. He finally became CNN's all-purpose star, covering world crises and royal weddings, moderating presidential debates, and in his spare time doing stories for 60 Minutes on rival network CBS. In 2011 he also began hosting his own syndicated daytime talk show, Anderson. He published a memoir, Dispatches From the Edge, in 2006.
Anderson Cooper has never been married. He stated publicly, in a 2012 letter to blogger Andrew Sullivan, that “I’m gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud”… His brother, Carter Vanderbilt, committed suicide in 1988, at age 23.