"Little Gloria" Vanderbilt (born 1924) was the center of the most sensational custody battle in U.S.history. Vanderbilt's father, Reginald Vanderbilt, a rail-road heir, horse breeder, playboy, and alcoholic gambler, died when his daughter was 17 months old. Vanderbilt's mother, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, was a renowned beauty who took her daughter to live in Europe after her husband died. Young Gloria spent much of this time with her grandmother, Laura Kilpatrick Morgan, and nurse, Emma Keislich, whom she called "Dodo." Morgan became determined that her granddaughter would not live in Germany and plotted to have the girl live in America with her aunt, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. At the age of ten, Vanderbilt became the subject of a bitter and public custody battle between her mother and her aunt. Custody of "Little Gloria" was given to Vanderbilt's aunt, but she could see her mother on weekends and for the month of July. Gloria spent the next seven years living on the east coast with her aunt. In June 1941, at the age of 17, Vanderbilt went to California to visit her mother in Beverly Hills. Not wanting to return to her life back east, and not wanting to remain with her mother, Vanderbilt decided to marry Pasquale ("Pat") De Cicco, a 32-year-old Hollywood agent. For the next three years he verbally and physically abused his wife. The couple eventually divorced. Soon after Vanderbilt married the conductor, Leopold Stokowski. They had two sons, Stanislaus and Christopher. After five years of marriage, Vanderbilt rented a studio where she wrote poetry and painted. She also began taking acting lessons and performing professionally for a short while. The Stokowskis divorced after ten years of marriage and fought a custody battle over their sons. Vanderbilt won. Vanderbilt later married Sidney Lumet, a television director. They remained married for seven years. Vanderbilt's fourth marriage to Mississippi writer, Wyatt Cooper, lasted 14 years, until Cooper's death in 1978, after a series of heart attacks. The couple had two sons, Carter and Anderson. Vanderbilt began her career as a commercial designer in 1971 when Don Hall of the Hallmark company saw Vanderbilt's drawings in an art gallery. The drawings were used in a line of paper goods. A collection of scarves was adapted from her paintings. Vanderbilt went on to design a line of blouses and a highly successful line of jeans. In 1980, she earned $10 million. Her name was seen on such products as perfume, sheets, shoes, leather goods, liqueurs, and accessories. In July 1998, her son Carter Cooper, age 23, plummeted from the terrace of her 14th-floor penthouse to his death as she watched. Vanderbilt contended that her son was not depressed or suicidal, but was disoriented from asthma medication he had taken. In the 1990s, Vanderbilt sued her former lawyer and business manager, claiming that he and her psychiatrist formed an illegal company to defraud her of $2 million. Because the lawyer failed to pay her taxes, Vanderbilt was forced to sell her Southampton, New York, summer home and her Manhattan townhouse to pay the Internal Revenue Service.