Memoir is perhaps the most frequently attempted book genre but – unless there’s a celebrity photo on the cover – these manuscripts rarely find a mainstream publisher, much less become bestsellers. But in this case, there are two smiling portraits and two famous brands – television journalist Anderson Cooper book review and his fashion-designer mother, Gloria Vanderbilt. However, until recently anyway, the general public may not have been aware of the family relationship. For his part, Cooper has assiduously avoided the association. He explains:
Vanderbilt is a big name to carry, and I’ve been glad I didn’t have to. I like being a Cooper. It’s less cumbersome, less likely to produce an awkward pause in the conversation when I’m introduced. Let’s face it, the name Vanderbilt has history, baggage. Even if you don’t know the details of my mom’s extraordinary story, her name comes with a whole set of expectations and assumptions about what she must be like. The reality of her life, however, is not what you’d imagine.
His mother, for her part, has been anything but shy about using – and exploiting – the name. Her signature jeans and fragrances have been her single most commercially successful venture. And other than lending cachet to the brand, this was a self-made fortune among several she has attained and lost. And, without trading on the name, Cooper has made his reputation on his own as media phenomenon. He is today one of the most credible names in broadcasting, and not because he carried a famous name.