Little Gloria… Happy at Last by Barbara Goldsmith

You know Anderson Cooper, the news anchor? He comes from a once-famous family, the Vanderbilts. His mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, was the subject of custody battle that was front page news during the Great Depression. Little Gloria… Happy at Last is the story of that battle, and it is a very interesting tale.

Fighting over her were her young widowed mother Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, and her aunt, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney.


I first read Little Gloria… Happy at Last about 30 years ago and decided to check it out again because I remember being fascinated by all the trappings of wealth, as well as all the salacious gossip. The first half of Little Gloria… Happy at Last is really interesting, exploring the lives of the major players of the story, as well as a look at high society during the 1920s and 30s.

Once Little Gloria… Happy at Last gets to the custody trial, the book drags. I may as well have read the actual transcript it was so boring. In fact, the book heavily relied on transcripts and directly quotes them repeatedly. I found myself skipping parts to get to the end to find out the verdict, which I couldn’t remember from my original reading.

Still, Little Gloria… Happy at Last is a fascinating look at another time, and another way of life, if you can slog through the trial stuff, it is worth the read.

Also, for the record, in my opinion, neither Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney or Gloria Vanderbilt should have had custody of Little Gloria. It is a real tragedy the way she was treated during her childhood.

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