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.

Anderson Cooper
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.”

Matt LeBlanc Says "Weird Things" Happened at the Peak of Friends's Popularity

Warner Bros. Television/Getty Images
Warner Bros. Television/Getty Images

Even though it went off the air in 2004, Friends continues find new generations of fans—so much so that there's even an unscripted reunion special in the works. With all the love surrounding the show, one can only imagine that the actors who played the six main characters have experienced the effects of its popularity—both good and bad.

As reported by Digital Spy, Matt LeBlanc, who played Joey Tribbiani, spoke during a pre-recorded interview on The Kelly Clarkson Show about "weird things" that happened while he was filming Friends. When pressed to give an example, LeBlanc recalled a time he saw his house, along with the homes of the five other cast members, on the news—while he was home.

"I remember one time, it was during the week, I had been flipping channels and watching the news and for some reason, they had a split-screen on the TV, six quadrants," he told Clarkson. "Each was a live shot of each one of our houses, like a helicopter shot. I was watching it and there was no information or news, it was just showing [our] houses."

Even though the actor found the situation bizarre, there was a very practical silver lining. “I remember looking closely at my house and thinking, 'F**k I need a new roof.' So the helicopter flies away and I get the ladder and I go up there,” LeBlanc added.

[h/t Digital Spy]

7 Timeless Facts About Paul Rudd

Rich Fury, Getty Images
Rich Fury, Getty Images

Younger fans may know Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, one of the newest members of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, the actor has been a Hollywood mainstay for half his life.

Rudd's breakout role came in 1995’s Clueless, where he played Josh, Alicia Silverstone's charming love interest in Amy Heckerling's beloved spin on Jane Austen's Emma. In the 2000s, Rudd became better known for his comedic work when he starred in movies like Wet Hot American Summer (2001), Anchorman (2004), The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Knocked Up (2007), and I Love You, Man (2009).

It wasn’t until 2015 that Rudd stepped into the ever-growing world of superhero movies when he was cast as Scott Lang, a.k.a. Ant-Man, and became part of the MCU.

Rudd has proven he can take on any part, serious or goofy. More amazingly, he never seems to age. But in honor of (what is allegedly) his 51st birthday on April 6, here are some things you might not have known about the star.

1. Paul Rudd is technically Paul Rudnitzky.

Though Paul Rudd was born in Passaic, New Jersey, both of his parents hail from London—his father was from Edgware and his mother from Surbiton. Both of his parents were descendants of Jewish immigrants who moved to England from from Russia and Poland. Rudd’s last name was actually Rudnitzky, but it was changed by his grandfather.

2. Paul Rudd's parents are second cousins.

In a 2017 episode of Finding Your Roots, Rudd learned that his parents were actually second cousins. Rudd responded to the discovery in typical comedic fashion: "Which explains why I have six nipples." He also wondered what that meant for his own family. "Does this make my son also my uncle?," he asked.

3. Paul Rudd loved comic books as a kid.

While Rudd did read Marvel Comics as a kid, he preferred Archie Comics and other funny stories. His English cousins would send him British comics, too, like Beano and Dandy, which he loved.

4. Paul Rudd wanted to play Christian in Clueless. And Murray.

Clueless would have been a completely different movie if Rudd had been cast as the suave Christian instead of the cute older step-brother-turned-love-interest Josh. But before he was cast as Cher’s beau, he initially wanted the role of the “ringa ding kid” Christian.

"I thought Justin Walker’s character, Christian, was a really good part," Rudd told Entertainment Weekly in 2012. "It was a cool idea, something I’d never seen in a movie before—the cool gay kid. And then I asked to read for Donald Faison's part, because I thought he was kind of a funny hip-hop wannabe. I didn’t realize that the character was African-American.”

5. Paul Rudd idolizes Paul Newman.

In a 2008 interview for Role Models, which he both co-wrote and starred in, Rudd was asked about his real-life role model. He answered Paul Newman, saying he admired the legendary actor because he gave a lot to the world before leaving it.

6. Before Paul Rudd was Ant-Man, he wanted to be Adam Ant.

In a 2011 interview with Grantland, Rudd talked about his teenage obsession with '80s English rocker Adam Ant. "Puberty hit me like a Mack truck, and my hair went from straight to curly overnight," Rudd explained. "But it was an easier pill to swallow because Adam Ant had curly hair. I used to ask my mom to try and shave my head on the sides to give me a receding hairline because Adam Ant had one. I didn’t know what a receding hairline was. I just thought he looked cool. She said, 'Absolutely not,' but I was used to that."

Ant wasn't the only musician Rudd tried to emulate. "[My mom] also shot me down when I asked if I could bleach just the top of my head like Howard Jones. Any other kid would’ve been like, 'F*** you, mom! I’m bleaching my hair.' I was too nice," he said.

7. Romeo + Juliet wasn’t Paul Rudd's first go as a Shakespearean actor.

Yet another one of Rudd's iconic '90s roles was in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet, but it was far from the actor's first brush with Shakespeare. Rudd spent three years studying Jacobean theater in Oxford, England, and starred in a production of Twelfth Night. He was described by his director, Sir Nicholas Hytner, as having “emotional and intellectual volatility.” Hytner’s praise was a big deal, considering he was the director of London's National Theatre from 2003 until 2015.

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