Anderson Cooper Gets Emotional During 'AC360' With Eulogy for Mother Gloria Vanderbilt

Anderson Cooper made his first on-air statement about his mother Gloria Vanderbilt's death at the end of Thursday night's AC360, letting the raw emotions of having just lost his mother be seen by viewers.

"I never realized how much she was my north star as well," Cooper said in response to the outpouring of support he has seen in the past few days. "Right now, things seem a lot less bright and magical without her."

Cooper, 52, took a long pause before continuing, "My dad died when I was 10, and my brother when I was 21. She was the last of my immediate family. The last person who knew me from the beginning. They're all gone and it feels very lonely right now. I hope they are at least together."

Vanderbilt died on Monday at age 95. Cooper announced the news in a statement released by CNN, confirming his mother was diagnosed with an advanced form of stomach cancer in early June. CNN also released an eight-minute tribute video narrated by Cooper.

"Gloria Vanderbilt 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," Cooper said. "She was 95 years old, but ask anyone close to her, and they'd tell you: She was the youngest person they knew — the coolest and most modern."

Vanderbilt was a celebrity at an early age, as the heir to a railroad fortune. Her mother and her father's wealthy sister, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, went to court over custody and her aunt won the case.

"As a teenager she tried to avoid the spotlight, but reporters and cameramen followed her everywhere," Cooper said of his mother Monday. "She was determined to make something of her life, determined to make a name for herself, and find the love she so desperately needed."

Vanderbilt first went to into modeling, then acting and became a fashion icon. She was married four times, first to agent Pat DiCiccio, then to famed conductor Leopold Stokowski and then to director Sidney Lumet. Her fourth and final husband was Cooper's father, writer Wyatt Cooper. Wyatt Cooper died in 1978 during open heart surgery. In 1998, Cooper's older brother, Carter Vanderbilt Cooper, died by suicide.

Cooper described Vanderbilt as "the strongest person I've ever met, but she wasn't tough. She never developed a thick skin to protect herself from hurt. She wanted to feel it all. She wanted to feel life's pleasures, its pains as well. She trusted too freely, too completely and suffered tremendous losses, but she always pressed on, always worked hard, always believed the best was yet to come."

Cooper's relationship with his mother was the focus of the HBO documentary Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper. They also published a joint memoir, The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love, and Loss.

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The CNN journalist said he always thought of her as a "visitor from another world, a traveler stranded here who'd come from a distant star that burned out long ago. I always felt it was my job to try to protect her."

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