Cooper is the son of Wyatt Emory Cooper, who appeared on broadway, worked as a screenwriter in LA, and worked as a magazine editor in Manhattan. Cooper's Mother is Vanderbilt heiress, Gloria Vanderbilt, who was the subject of the famous custody battle in 1934.
Cooper began his media exposure being photographed by Diane Arbus for the magazine, Harper's Bazaar, as a baby. At 3 years old, Cooper appeared with his mother on the Tonight Show, at 9 he appeared on To Tell The Truth as an impostor, and from age 10 to age 13, Cooper modeled for Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and Macy's.
In 1978, Cooper's father underwent open-heart surgery. During the surgery, he suffered a series of heart attacks, and died.
Cooper was educated at the prestigious Dalton School graduating in 1985. He then majored in Political science at Yale University, graduating in 1989. During college, Cooper spent two summers interning with the CIA. He chose to pursue a career in journalism rather than continue with the agency.
Cooper had difficulty getting his foot in the door in journalism, even failing to obtain an entry-level position with ABC answering telephones. He then had a friend make a fake press pass. He then worked as a fact checker at Channel One, a producer of a youth oriented news program. While working at Channel One, he entered Myanmar using his forged press pass to meet with students who were fighting the Burmese government. Channel One did eventually buy the otherwise home-made segment. This began a period of filming stories from various war-torn regions around the world.
In 1995, Cooper was hired by ABC News as a correspondent, and he eventually rose to co-anchor World News Now, ABC's overnight program, in 1999. In 2000 he hosted ABC's reality show, The Mole.
In 2001, Cooper returned to broadcast news at CNN anchoring alongside Paula Zahn on American Morning. Within a year he was the prime-time weekend anchor, and in September 2003, he started to anchor Anderson Cooper 360º, which includes a lighthearted segment, the Ridiculist.
In 2010, Cooper signed an agreement to host a syndicated Talk show called, Anderson. It premiered in September, 2011, but he has continued to host (signing a multi-year contract with CNN) Anderson Cooper 360º.
In addition to these other duties has has been a correspondent for CBS News' 60 Minutes, the narrator for the 2011 Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying, and in 2006 he published a memoir.
Anderson splits his time between homes in Westhampton Beach, Long Island, 38th Street in Manhattan, and since September 2009, he has owned a Fire Patrol house (not a FDNY Firehouse) in Greenwich Village.