Heiresses of times past – Gloria Laura Madeleine Sophie Vanderbilt

Nowadays an inheritance of $4 million is nothing grand. Even people who play the lottery regard a $4 million dollar jackpot as nothing. There’s just not that much you can do with four million dollars any more; but back in Gloria Vanderbilt’s day, four million dollars was a lot of money.

Gloria Vanderbilt became an heiress when she was 15 months old after her father, Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt, died from from bootleg alcohol poisoning. Of course being just 15 months old she couldn’t exactly control her four million dollar inheritance. Her mother, Gloria Laura Mercedes Morgan, was only 20 years old at the time of baby Gloria’s father’s death. Mother Gloria also couldn’t control the trust fund inherited by her daughter on account of being underage; but she was able to get a judge to award a $4000 per month allowance for the care of baby Gloria and maintenance of the home in which they lived.

Apparently $4000 per month was major money back then because Gloria Vanderbilt’s mother was able to afford to travel from New York to Paris, London, Cannes, Hollywood, Monte Carlo, Biarritz, and Switzerland every month on that $4000 with her twin sister Thelma, who was apparently having an affair with the Prince of Wales, her daughter Gloria and Gloria’s nanny Dodo.

For more about the insane drama that would culminate in custody over Gloria Vanderbilt being awarded to her aunt Gertrude in 1934 you can read:
Gloria Vanderbilt Custody Trial: 1934 – “we Are Moving Again” ‘oh What A Life’, “trial Of The Century”, Suggestions For Further Reading

Never let it be said that having money spares you from having to endure unpleasant events in life. Gloria Vanderbilt’s life story is filled with painful events including failed marriages, domestic abuse and the untimely death of her son Carter Cooper. It’s doubtful that having money made her life’s pain any easier to bear.

Image: Tom Palumbo

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