Depending on what era formed you, you can relate to a piece of Gloria Vanderbilt. If you are old enough, it's the "Poor Little Rich Girl" headlines, or maybe it's her dating Frank Sinatra, or the designer jeans with the swan logo. Women wore her name across their derrieres. She's lived every era fully, and as her son Anderson Cooper maintains, she's still looking for the next great love, just around the corner. Anything can happen, of course, but at 92 no one is taking chances: Mother and son have co-authored a book, The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love, and Loss. Vanderbilt will have a show of her art, paintings, drawings and dream boxes, and Cooper and Vanderbilt star in a documentary by Liz Garbus called Nothing Left Unsaid, which brings her complicated story line into a coherent narrative. To air this weekend on HBO, Nothing Left Unsaid is a portrait of an American original. Introducing at the Time Warner Center, HBO's Sheila Nevins said, "It's beautiful. And if I haven't called all my films beautiful, it's too bad. This one really is."
You cannot make up a life like this: in a custody battle at age 9, marrying Leopold Stokowski after knowing him a month, she 20, he 63, and this was not even her first marriage. Marriage to Sidney Lumet, and Wyatt Cooper after that. (For a colorful glimpse of her at this stage, in her friendships with Oona Chaplin and the author's mother Carol Matthau, see Aram Saroyan's page-turner, Trio.) The details of Gloria's life are exhausting, and exhilarating to follow: All the parenting, her mother to her, and she to her four -- yes, four -- sons. And most of all, the loss: Father when she was a baby, the nurse who raised her, her fourth husband and perhaps the love of her life, a son who she has not seen for 30 years, and the one, Anderson's brother, who jumped off her balcony right before her eyes.
At a swell dinner at Porterhouse, a celebration ensued: Gay Talese chatted with the director's dad Martin Garbus. Anderson's half-brother Stan Stokowski and many more attended, including Kenneth Jay Lane, Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg, and Cecile Zu Hohenlohe, a jewelry designer whose grandfather Friedel Hohenlohe may have been the love of Gloria's mother's life in yet another plot twist.
As Anderson Cooper signed copies of his book, he answered the many questions raised by his mother's remarkable life. At film's end, you see them hand in hand at his father's and brother's grave sites, side by side. "Yes," he said, "the burial ground is in Staten Island. If you are a Vanderbilt you can be buried there. We Coopers are on the outskirts."
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.