Noted fashion icon and socialite Gloria Vanderbilt died Monday following a battle with stomach cancer. Her son, Anderson Cooper, announced her death on CNN in an emotional and moving tribute.
Cooper called his mother "the strongest person I've ever met," someone who lived "her entire life in the public eye." Cooper added that his mother "died as she lived, on her own terms... she was ready to go...When the end came, she was not alone. She was surrounded by beauty and family and friends.
"Gloria Vanderbilt was 95 years old when she died. What an extraordinary life, what an extraordinary mom, and what an incredible woman."
The segment also included a journey through Vanderbilt's life, from her early time in the spotlight thanks to a public custody trial, to her various marriages, her work as an artist, her influence on fashion, and her love for her family. "I always thought of her as a visitor from another world," Cooper narrated, "a traveler stranded here who'd come from a distant star that had burned out long ago. I always felt it was my job to try to protect her...She wanted to feel it all. Life's pleasures, but it's pains as well."
In a statement, Cooper said that his mother "was an extraordinary woman, who loved life, and lived it on her own terms. She was a painter, a writer and designer but also a remarkable mother, wife, and friend.
At 95 years old, Cooper said that if you spoke with anyone close to her, "they'd tell you: She was the youngest person they knew -- the coolest and most modern."