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Family Picnic: 1964

Family Picnic: 1964

May 1964. 35mm Kodachrome by Toni Frissell for the Life magazine assignment "The Splendor of a Great Family: The Vanderbilts." View full size.

        On her country estate near Stamford, Connecticut, Gloria Vanderbilt enjoys a picnic with her husband, Wyatt Cooper, and two sons by her marriage to Leopold Stokowski -- Chris, 12, and Stan, 13. She came upon the picturesque waterfall with its secluded cottage one day and couldn't resist buying it. "It was like something out of a fairy tale," she exclaims.

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Must be nice.

... to be able to just "couldn't resist buying it".

Little Anderson

Three years following this picnic Gloria would give birth to Anderson Hay Cooper, known to CNN viewers as Anderson Cooper. In the previously posted photo of Gloria and her four sons Anderson is the baby.

tterrace, is that you?

At first glance, I thought for sure that was our community member and contributor tterrace sitting front and center on the picnic blanket. Who knew he was related to Gloria Vanderbilt!

[Well, I was dressing like that then but his clothes probably didn't come from Monkey Wards. -tterrace]

So many men

Gloria Vanderbilt was married four times, and her husbands included the conductor Leopold Stokowski and the director Sidney Lumet. She also had relationships with Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Howard Hughes, Roald Dahl, and one of my favorite Shorpy photographers, Gordon Parks. These color photos of rich, decadent folks have been fun, but I’m glad to get back to newsies, rustic main streets in 1900, and 1929 boiler explosions.


Anderson Cooper would appear three years later.

Photo Art

What an amazing photograph. Almost looks like a painting.

Gloria bought this property on a whim. One example of how the massive original family fortune of Cornelius was gradually whittled away to just a fortune.

Just like a family picnic when I was young

except delete the picturesque waterfall on a private estate, and my mother would be wearing shoes and sensible pants ... and probably not a Coolie hat. But the males would be wearing button cotton shirts that needed to be ironed.

I'm not sure how one "comes upon" a picturesque waterfall with a secluded cottage, unless a Realtor shows it to them, or you can see it from the road (which, in this case, I doubt). I'm going to disagree with richie33 about this being over the top; this is a nice place in the country. Modern mega yachts and gilded age Newport mansions lived in eight weeks a year are and were over the top.

Dramatic family history

Wyatt Cooper was Gloria Vanderbilt's fourth husband. This marriage, her last, would produce two additional sons, Carter (1965) and Anderson (1967).

Wyatt Cooper died at 51 in 1978. Carter died tragically at 23, falling from the balcony of his mother's apartment, apparently during severe reaction to a prescription drug. Gloria was estranged from son Christopher Stokowski for over 40 years, with a modest reconciliation reported when she was in her 90s.

Almost all photos of Gloria with her sons come in pairs, the first two or the last two. Below is a rare image showing all four.

The Americans of the 1%ers

A fine example of how the American Dream went over the top.

Melon Family

There were four in my family -- we'd have been bothered by the fact that there was only one watermelon.

Those black sneakers

Converse All Star low-cuts. Way way too expensive for a coal miner to buy his son in the '60s. I mowed a lot of grass, picked blackberries, blueberries, shoveled snow, managed to earn that money. Worth every cent back. Levy's Sport shop Johnstown, Pa.

Heap big melon

That's a lot of watermelon for four people, but I suppose it photographs nicely for the magazine article.

Fried Chicken, or a Sandwich?

I will take the fried chicken every time! Unless it isn't.

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