GOSSIP & RUMORS: Anderson Cooper called out over ‘copycat’ book on Brooke Astor
The author of a well-known biography of legendary socialite Brooke Astor called out CNN host Anderson Cooper for relying too heavily on her work in his own forthcoming book on the heiress and her wealthy family.
Meryl Gordon, a New York Times bestselling author who published “Mrs. Astor Regrets” in 2008, told novelist Doug Brunt on his podcast “Dedicated with Doug Brunt” released Tuesday: “I have read the book and I have very complicated feelings about it.”
She cited the last chapter of Cooper’s upcoming biography — “Astor: The Rise and Fall of an American Fortune,” set to be released Sept. 19 — as cause for her “stunned disappointment,” as the 31-page chapter mentioned her own reporting on Astor a whopping 39 times.
“So, I’m disappointed. He’s really good at what he does, and I was really curious to see what he would come up with with this topic, and he seems to have come up with my book,” Gordon said.
“That’s flattering, but it’s a little annoying too,” the biographer said, adding that Cooper “only did one original interview” with 83-year-old Annette de la Renta for his book, which was co-written by Katherine Howe.
“It sounds like a cliff-notes version of your book got into their book,” Brunt said.
De la Renta — the wife of late fashion designer Oscar de la Renta — served as Astor’s court-appointed legal guardian until her death in August 2007 after Astor’s grandson, Philip Marshall, accused his father in a lawsuit of neglecting the family matriarch.
“But that’s one interview. There’s so many people who are still around and would have spoken to him [Cooper],” Gordon said, noting that she was “stunned” and “surprised” that Cooper’s upcoming book didn’t include more original discussions with sources.
“Philip Marshall, Brooke Astor’s grandson, said he’d never heard from Anderson or anyone involved in that book,” said Gordon, who conducted 230 interviews for her own take on the Astor family, she told Brunt.
“Liz Loewy, who was the prosecutor on the case, she never heard from Anderson,” Gordon added.
Brunt pointed out that Cooper citing Gordon’s book so many times “is not exactly illegal, but it’s not exactly original research.”
“He cited me, there’s not plagiarism, there’s nothing legally wrong. It’s just that I would’ve expected more from him, I guess is what I’m really saying,” Gordon said.
One anecdote that Gordon was particularly surprised was scratched from her book was of 104-year-old Astor, told to her by Astor’s nurses after Marshall and de la Renta approved of the conversation.
“They came to my house one night, and they told me wonderful stories,” Gordon recalled.
She continued: “And there was Brooke Astor, she had Alzheimer’s…and she was still getting dressed for dinner. She thought a lady gets dressed for dinner, so even though she was going to be sitting in front of the TV tray, she’d put on a nice caftan, she’d put on jewelry, she’d put on eye makeup, she was teaching the nurses how to flirt, and I love that story.”
“When I saw it [this story] in Anderson’s book I was like, ‘What?!’ … What fun is it to sit down with other people’s research?”
“He just cribbed the entire story,” Brunt added.
“But he’s Anderson, I’m sure he’ll get a lot of attention and I’m sure the book will do well for him,” Gordon said of the CNN anchor and star of “Anderson Cooper 360.”
Harper Collins, Cooper’s publisher, has already announced a series of publicity events to promote “Astor: The Rise and Fall of an American Fortune.”
Gordon and representatives for Cooper at his talent agency, CAA, did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.
The story of the Astor family begins with John Jacob Astor’s arrival to New York City from Germany in 1783.
Jacob Astor went on to make the family fortune first through a beaver-trapping business, and then with Manhattan real estate.
His great-grandson, John Jacob Astor IV, a real estate magnate himself, was one of the wealthiest passengers aboard the ill-fated RMS Titanic when it sunk on April 15, 1912.
Jacob Astor IV’s son, Vincent Astor, was the third husband of Brooke Astor, who died in 2007. The two were only married for seven years, from 1953 to 1959.
In 2008, a messy court case ensued after Astor’s son Anthony Marshall — Phillip’s twin — was accused of manipulating his mother to change her will.
He was found guilty of financially exploiting his mother, and sentenced to years behind bars, though he only served eight weeks in 2013 before receiving medical parole. He was 89 years old.