11 Things You Might Not Know About Anderson Cooper

Nicholas Hunt, Getty Images for Billboard Magazine
Nicholas Hunt, Getty Images for Billboard Magazine

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper has lived a pretty extraordinary life. Check out some revealing information about Cooper’s modeling past, his run-ins with Charlie Chaplin, and how he nearly wound up with the CIA.

1. HE PARTIED WITH CHARLIE CHAPLIN.

Born in New York in 1967 to actor Wyatt Cooper and heiress Gloria Vanderbilt, Cooper was exposed from an early age to a very unique social circle. His parents held parties where they invited the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Lillian Gish, and George Plimpton. Cooper’s father once said that everyone treated Anderson and his older brother, Carter, like adults. “No child should ever be called little,” Wyatt told New York Magazine in 2005. “They were always treated like potential adults.”

2. HE WAS A FAMOUS BABY.

Famed photographer Diane Arbus once convinced Vanderbilt to allow her to photograph a sleeping Cooper for a spread in Harper’s Bazaar magazine. After some reluctance, Vanderbilt allowed the photo to be published; it’s since become one of Arbus’s most recognizable photographs and has been displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

3. AS A CHILD, HE THOUGHT PEOPLE COULD TURN TO STONE.

As is the case with many children, young Cooper could take information and process it literally. When his father showed him a statue that was erected in honor of ancestor Cornelius Vanderbilt, Cooper admitted he thought dying meant that your body would turn to stone.

4. HE BECAME A MODEL AT AGE 10.

After Cooper’s father passed away during heart surgery at the age of 50, 10-year-old Cooper decided that he should begin to think about providing for himself. Eager to have a source of income, he signed with the Ford Modeling Agency and began modeling clothes for Ralph Lauren and Macy’s, among others. (The gigs lasted until age 13 when, according to Cooper, a photographer made some inappropriate comments, which led him to quit.)

5. HE ONCE CONTRACTED MALARIA.

As a teenager, Cooper began to feel restless and decided to take several international excursions by himself to prove he could adapt to different situations. In addition to trekking the Rockies and kayaking in Mexico, at 17 he decided to backpack through Central Africa. While there, he contracted malaria and spent time at a hospital in Kenya.

6. HE INTERNED AT THE CIA.

After enrolling at Yale University, Cooper noticed a flyer hanging in the school’s career counseling office inviting students to explore their options with the CIA. He decided to spend his summers interning at the headquarters of the agency in Langley, Virginia. Cooper later called the work “pretty bureaucratic” and “mundane” and decided not to pursue intelligence work as a profession.

7. HE FAKED HIS PRESS PASSES.

Getty Images

Following both his brother’s suicide and his graduation from Yale, a distraught Cooper decided to once again head overseas to try and distract himself from emotional upheaval. Without an “official” job with a news outlet, Cooper made his own press passes, bought a video camera, and did freelance work from such war-torn areas as Burma and Somalia to cover famines and unrest. Back home, he was able to sell the footage to Channel One, a classroom-based closed-circuit news network. The channel later made him an official correspondent; in 1995, Cooper wound up at ABC.

8. HE HOSTED A REALITY SHOW.

At ABC, Cooper was charged with anchoring the overnight news series World News Tonight and later hosting a reality television series called The Mole. Perceiving the latter as a serious blow to his credibility, ABC executives said he would never again work in broadcast news. 

9. HE WAS NOT AN IMMEDIATE HIT AT CNN.

Suspecting ABC executives were correct, Cooper backed away from Mole duties and migrated to CNN in 2002. The network slotted him on Paula Zahn’s a.m. show American Morning, where Cooper failed to impress critics who may still have been doubting his credentials from the reality television stint. The Los Angeles Times called him the “chuckling Anderson Cooper,” who looked as though “he rode over on a skateboard.” Cooper later described his performance on the show as “nervous” and “uncomfortable.” But by taking on other network assignments no one wanted, he was later able to earn himself an opportunity as anchor of Anderson Cooper 360.

10. HE ONCE DRESSED AS PHIL DONAHUE FOR HALLOWEEN. (HE REALLY LIKES PHIL DONAHUE.) 

During his short-lived daytime talk show, Anderson Live, Cooper invited legendary broadcaster Phil Donahue for an interview. To commemorate the occasion—and Halloween—he dressed up as the silver-haired, microphone-wielding talk traffic cop. Cooper said he grew up watching Donahue and wanted to “pay homage” to him.

11. HIS MOTHER ISN’T LEAVING HIM A CENT.

Despite her family’s considerable wealth, Gloria Vanderbilt has no intention of leaving Cooper any cash when she exits the planet. “My mom made it clear to me there’s no trust fund, there’s none of that,” he told Howard Stern, calling inheritances an “initiative sucker.”

Wednesday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Computer Monitors, Plant-Based Protein Powder, and Blu-ray Sets

Amazon
Amazon
As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 2. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

10 Perfect Gifts for The Pop Culture Connoisseur in Your Life

Funko/Pinsantiy/Lil Cinephile/Amazon
Funko/Pinsantiy/Lil Cinephile/Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Over the past year, most everyone has been marinating in all kinds of pop culture. More than any other era, this moment in time has revealed how much we as a society should value our creators and artists. From cinematic comfort food to walks down nostalgia lane, the holiday season is a perfect time to celebrate the pop culture moments and icons that have kept us happy, engaged, and awed.

Here are 10 perfect gifts the pop culture connoisseur in your life is sure to love.

1. A is for Auteur; $30

Lil Cinephile/Amazon

The same team that put out the delightful, surprisingly adaptable Cinephile card game ($18) last year is out with a new book perfect for the cineastes in your life who love Agnès Varda. This alphabet book goes from A (Paul Thomas Anderson) to Z (Fred Zinnemann) and celebrates the unique elements of more than two dozen filmmakers’ careers. It’s a tongue-in-cheek delight, and if you don’t actually want your child to know about Quentin Tarantino just yet, it makes a gorgeous addition to any adult’s coffee table.

Buy It: Amazon

2. Schitt’s Creek Funkos; 4 for $77

Funko/Amazon

Eww, David! This set is ideal for fans of the Rose family who’d love Moira, Johnny, David, and Alexis peering down on them as they work or sleep or fold in the cheese. If you’re going the extra mile, grab the Amish David edition with hoodie, sunglasses, and rake. Individual figures run from $9-$30, and they all pair perfectly with a banana rosé.

Buy Them: Amazon

3. The Bruce Lee Criterion Collection; $68

Criterion Collection/Amazon

This is a stunning collection showcasing the best of the best of a true master alongside Criterion’s usual insightful commentary. Enter the Dragon has never been released as part of a collection before, and it stands as the crown jewel among The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, The Way of the Dragon, and the infamous Game of Death—all digitally restored in either 2K or 4K. The collection also features documentaries about Lee; an interview with his widow, Linda Lee Caldwell; and a conversation about the “Bruceploitation” subgenre that blossomed following Lee's untimely death.

Buy It: Amazon

4. NES Cartridge Coasters; $11

Paladone Products Ltd./Amazon

For the entertainer happy to have guests place their IPAs on SM3. These stylish coasters will protect your tables from coffee rings, wine stains, and barrels thrown by kidnapping apes. Plus, you won’t have to blow into these if they’re not loading correctly.

Buy Them: Amazon

5. Van Buren Boys Tee; $16

Underground Printing/Amazon

Deep into its eighth season, Seinfeld was still making iconic, quote-worthy moments. With this pre-shrunk, 100 percent cotton T, your favorite fan of the show about nothing can celebrate the comical street gang named for the 8th president (and the first president hailing from New York). It’s a handsome, comfortable shirt that comes in four colors and goes great with a Lorenzo’s pizza.

Buy It: Amazon

6. This Television History Puzzle; $49

White Mountain Puzzle/Amazon

This pop collage of more than 250 stars and scenes from TV’s past is a 1000-piece puzzle from acclaimed artist James Mellett. It’s probably the only image in existence where Kunta Kinte is between Superman, Gumby, and Norm and Cliff from Cheers. A gorgeous walk down memory lane, it’s also a healthy challenge that, at 24x30, would make a fine wall hanging if you don’t want to toss it back into the box.

Buy It: Amazon

7. Pictures at a Revolution; $17

Penguin Books/Amazon

Entertainment Weekly veteran Mark Harris is one of the most respected film historians of this generation, and this book, which goes deep on five pivotal films, is a must-have for serious cinephiles. Exploring Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, Look Who’s Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night, and the surprise box office bomb Doctor Doolittle, Harris explores how 1967 marked a tectonic shift in American cultural preferences. Pair it with Five Came Back for bonus gifting points (and a book you can watch together on Netflix).

Buy It: Amazon

8. The Art of Mondo; $44

Insight Editions/Amazon

This is high on the list of gifts you’ll end up keeping for yourself. This sublime book boasts 356 pages of gorgeous prints from everyone’s favorite films. Cult, classics, blockbusters, and buried gems, the Austin-based Mondo is world-renowned for limited release posters from the best artists on the planet. One sheets typically sell for hundreds of dollars, so this book is the cheapest way to get them all. For your friend, of course. Right?

Buy It: Amazon

9. A Princess Bride Enamel Pin; $10

Pinsanity/Amazon

I do not think this pin means what you think it means. This playful piece features Vizzini’s shouting face above a stately “Inconceivable!” banner. It’s made of quality metal with vibrant enamel colors, and buying it should also send you down a rabbit hole looking for dozens of other pop culture pins.

Buy It: Amazon

10. Marvel’s Greatest Comics; $23

DK/Amazon

Someone in your life is bound to want three pounds of Marvel comics. This definitive tome showcases 100 issues that changed the world and built a powerhouse pop culture company, from Marvel #1 in 1939 to Avengers #6 in 2018. The eye-popping artwork is accompanied by smart commentary from industry trailblazers and experts, which makes it as informative as it is entertaining. Just remember to say “Pow!” when you gift it.

Buy Them: Amazon

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