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The sit-down began with the journalist discussing his new book, Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty, a tribute to his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, who died in 2019 at age 95. Speaking about their relationship, Cooper shared with Colbert that the heiress “would come up with just ludicrous ideas,” which proved to be an understatement as he remembered a funny interaction 10 years before her death.
“I’ve never actually told this on TV before,” Cooper began. “When she was 85, I get this call from her. She’s like, ‘Honey, there’s something I really need to talk to you about.'” Cooper explained that in his mom’s “vocabulary” that usually translated to her wanting to redecorate the house multiple times and have her son pay for it.
He continued, “So, I had to steel myself. I finally go over to my mom’s house. I’m like, ‘OK, mom. What is it you wanted to talk about?’ She said, ‘Well, the most incredible thing happened. I went to the gynecologist last week … and she told me the most amazing thing. She told me I could still bear a child.'”
Cooper was familiar with his mom sharing strange news and said, “You couldn’t be ‘negative,’ meaning you couldn’t be realistic and tell her what you actually thought or try to talk sense into her. You had to be ‘supportive.'”
As an aside, he added, “Sometimes people wonder how during interviews I just stay stone-faced and listen to people say batshit crazy things. I grew up with Gloria Vanderbilt.”
He resumed telling his story: “I’m sitting there and I’m thinking, ‘Don’t be negative, but, how do I convince my 85-year-old mom not to have a child right now?'” He joked, “Because that’s a question we’ve often asked ourselves, I’m sure all of you have. It’s a very relatable story.”
“I started saying things, like, ‘First of all mom, I find that fascinating and incredible that a licensed gynecologist told you that you could have a baby at 85. But, I think you need to think about it. I think you need to take some time with it. It’s very labor intensive, no pun intended, and let’s do some math. Let’s see, you’re 85. When the child goes to college, you will be, oh, 105. How does that math sound to you?'”
But the story took an even more unexpected turn when Cooper revealed that his mother had a different idea. “She says to me, ‘Honey, I’m not talking about having a child of my own. I mean, that’s crazy. I’m 85.'” He was temporarily relieved until she added, ‘”Well, you know you can get an egg anywhere nowadays. What I was thinking is you get an egg and fertilize it with your sperm and I’ll carry your child.'”
Colbert responded with a shocked face as the audience gasped and laughed. “I was just stunned,” Cooper said. “I finally said to her, ‘Mom, I love you. But even for you, that is just batshit crazy. That’s just nuts. That is so weirdly Oedipal on a whole other level. That kid would be on the front page of the New York Post for the rest of its life.'”
Two years later, Vanderbilt sent her son a newspaper clipping with a headline about a grandmother bearing a child for her son along with a picture. Cooper said she circled the photo and attached a written note that simply said, “See!”
As Cooper wrapped up the story, he jokingly concluded, “[I’m a] bad son.”
Watch the interview below.
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