The sad history of Anderson Cooper

Anderson Cooper may live a rich and respected lifestyle, but things haven't always been easy for the celebrated journalist and CNN anchor. From an early age, he has battled to overcome more tragic twists and turns than most people will experience in their lifetimes. From suicide to stalking, relive the many dark moments of Cooper's torrid past. 

His father died when he was 10

In 1978, Anderson Cooper's father, Wyatt Cooper, died while undergoing open-heart surgery. Nearly 40 years later, Anderson fondly remembers the short time he was able to spend with his dad. 

"He gave me the sense that I had value, that my ideas mattered," he said in an interview with CNN. "That instilled in me a confidence I don't think I would have otherwise had." He admits that losing a parent at a young age darkened his outlook on life. "Loss changes you…" he said. "The world suddenly seems a much different place. More dangerous. The person I was before my father's death, the person I was meant to be was far more open, more interesting than the person I've become. I wish it wasn't so, but the self-reliance I learned has also served me well."

His brother committed suicide

In 1988, Anderson Cooper's brother, Carter Cooper, committed suicide by falling to his death from his mother's 14th-floor penthouse in New York City. According to Carter's obituary in The New York Times, the 23-year-old was being treated for depression. No drugs or alcohol were found in his system. Carter died in front of his mother, famed socialite Gloria Vanderbilt, though Anderson does not think his brother's actions were intended to hurt her. "I think he had this impulse that he could not contain," he told Howard Stern (via People) in 2014. "She was just there."

Carter's death still haunts him

Anderson Cooper has spent much of his professional career speaking openly about his struggle to grieve and to move on from his brother's suicide. The tragedy played a key role in his decision to pursue journalism.

"I started going overseas and going to places where life and death was very real and where people were suffering tremendous losses," he told People in 2016. "Hearing their stories and hearing people talk about it sort of helped me to get to a place where I could talk about it." Even today, Anderson admits he'll never truly find closure over what happened. "It doesn't exist. There's no such thing," he told People.

Grief engulfed his family

Although Carter Cooper's death galvanized a lifelong bond between Anderson Cooper and his mother, the one-two punch of losing two family members within the span of ten years took its toll on the mother and son. In their joint book, The Rainbow Comes and Goes, Gloria Vanderbilt recalls the painful moments following Carter's suicide, writing, "I wanted to die and I only knew the stream of pain I kept going over and over and over again was what was keeping me alive." She told People that special family moments, such as Christmas, were ultimately destroyed. "I remember the first Christmas we were together after it happened … We went to the movies," she said. "And then we went to the automat, and from then on we've never done anything about Christmas."

Anderson admitted to Howard Stern that he often wondered if he, too, would end up suffering from depression like his brother. "I don't worry about it anymore, but I certainly did at the time," he said.

He kept mum about his sexuality for years

From the moment he rose to fame on CNN, Anderson Cooper's sexual identity became the subject of rampant speculation in the tabloids and online. He was often criticized for remaining private about his sexuality rather than using his fame and popularity to advocate publicly for equality and reform.

Finally, in 2012, Cooper discussed his sexuality in an email published via the Daily Beast. "The fact is, I'm gay, always have been, always will be," he wrote (via CBS News). About four years later, Anderson shared his reasons for telling the public what his friends and family had known for years. "At a certain point it started to feel like by not saying something, I was saying something," he told the Daily Beast. "It seemed like I was uncomfortable about something, which wasn't the case. I was leading a very open gay life with my partner in New York; we'd go to gay bars." In his original email to The Daily Beast, Anderson said he initially remained closeted to the public for personal and professional reasons, which had evolved over the years.

His boyfriend allegedly cheated on him

In 2012, Anderson Cooper's partner of many years, nightclub owner Benjamin Maisani, was photographed kissing another man in a New York City park. According to multiple reports, Cooper learned about the alleged affair while on vacation with Maisani and friends in Croatia. Despite talk that Anderson was heartbroken over the photos, he was spotted with Maisani in New York about a week later. Whatever happened behind closed doors, the couple appeared to weather the storm for a while. The following year, Anderson personally thanked his partner during a speech at the GLAAD Awards.

Alas, it wasn't meant to be. In March 2018, People reported that the high-profile pair had split. "Benjamin and I separated as boyfriends some time ago. We are still family to each other, and love each other very much," Cooper said in a statement. He insisted the pair would "remain the best of friends." 

He was stalked for years

In 2013, the New York Post reported that Anderson Cooper and then-boyfriend Benjamin Maisani had been stalked by a schizophrenic man named Alex Hausner for more than five years. Hausner reportedly said he loved Cooper and reportedly made menacing phone calls to the journalist's workplace and home and tried to break into the couple's New York City home.

Hausner pleaded guilty to felony menacing and harassment charges in April 2014. As such, he was "required to get extensive treatment and was promised what amounts to time served plus five years' probation if he completed the counseling and steered clear of the famous pair," according to the New York Daily News. "Anderson has nothing to fear from me," Hausner told reporters outside Manhattan Supreme Court (via Page Six). "I'm sorry he feels the way he does … I would die for him."

The following year, Hausner alleged in court that he feared for his life because Maisani had supposedly been threatening him online.

He was estranged from his half-brother

Anderson Cooper was reportedly "devastated" after his half-brother, Christopher Stokowski, abandoned their family following an argument with Gloria Vanderbilt about his love life. Stokowski, who is the son of Vanderbilt and conductor Leopold Stokowski, allegedly cut off contact with everyone in 1978, around the same time Cooper's father died, according to Page Six. Christopher reportedly became a recluse for decades.

This story, at least, has a happy ending. In November 2016, Cooper confirmed that he and Christopher reconciled following the 2016 release of Nothing Left Unsaid – a film created by Cooper and Vanderbilt. The reunion was reportedly facilitated through Christopher's former fiancée, April Sandmeyer. "I'm very happy for them and glad to have played a part in them being back in touch," she told Page Six.