Hello Canada On-On-One With Einstein Gala’s Special Guest Anderson Cooper

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Hello Canada On-On-One With Einstein Gala’s Special Guest Anderson Cooper - The ubiquitous newsman opens up about life before CNN, lessons he’s learned and the memoir he wrote with his mom, Gloria Vanderbilt

It was a celebration of intuition and imagination in Toronto this May, when Anderson Cooper hosted the Einstein Gala, an annual benefit put on by the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University to honour some of the world’s greatest innovators. Taking the opportunity while in town to also discuss his new book, The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Loss and Love (co-written with his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt; there is also a new documentary, Nothing Left Unsaid), the CNN and 60 Minutes newsman was full of insights and humility.

The Rainbow Comes and GoesThe public perception of her is very different from the person I knew. But there was also so much I didn’t know. She’s been making headlines from the time she was born. I think we’re both in a place where neither of us wanted to leave anything unsaid. So we started emailing each other – putting aside any awkwardness, any resentments.

I had no idea how many guys my mom hooked up with! [In the course of working on the book and documentary, a number of Gloria’s dalliances are cited – including flirtations with Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando and Errol Flynn.]

My mom is 92, and still believes the next great love is around the corner.

Anderson's shoesNinety-eight per cent of the kids in my school, growing up, were Jewish. And I always wanted to have a bar mitzvah. I begged my mother for one in Grade 8.

I’m not a pessimist – I guess I think that word is too negative. I prefer to call myself a “catastrophist.” I believe the worst is about to occur at any second.

It’s most important to have a sense of empathy for other people. Only by walking in someone else’s shoes can you really understand.

[I recommend] A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. It was devastating. When it ended, I couldn’t believe these [characters] were not in my life anymore.

Frank SinatraWith an election season like the U.S. is having, there’s no question that Anderson is working overtime. And though he is hesitant to give his personal opinions on it all – he subscribes to the old-school journalist credo that you don’t mix personal commentary and reporting – he will say that the rise of Donald Trump “is unlike anything I’ve ever covered, frankly.” Of course, politics is not the only domain that appeals to the star, who brightens up morning TV as a sometimes co-host for Kelly Anderson Cooper and Donald TrumpRipa; shows us his lighter side (with comic pal Kathy Griffin) on CNN’s annual New Year’s celebration; and puts his reporting skills to use on 60 Minutes. One of his most memorable interviews on the news program? A chat that required him to get down to his trunks! In the segment, Anderson challenged Olympic champion Michael Phelps to a race. You can pretty much guess how that went. “What does it feel like to be in a race with Michael Phelps?” he later asked. “I couldn’t tell you. He went by me so fast I never even saw him.”

Anderson Cooper, with mother and brotherAnderson, 48, got confessional during his remarks at the Einstein Gala, where he referenced a pivotal moment in his life: the suicide of his older brother. Carter, who was 23 when he jumped to his death off the balcony of their mother’s apartment, is rarely far from the newsman’s mind, no doubt. “Two boys growing up in the same house,” he mused. “Why does one escape and the other doesn’t?” The tragedy, as he’s outlined before, played a major part in his career trajectory. “I started going overseas and going to places where life and death was very real, and where people were suffering tremendous losses. Hearing their stories... it sort of helped to get to a place where I could talk about it, I think.” He’s spoken movingly about what he’s learned. “I used to think suicide was a conscious act. A plan made, then carried out. I know now it’s not always like that. My brother was a sweet young man who wanted to be in control. In the end, he simply wasn’t. We all dangle from a very delicate thread.”

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