Cornelius Vanderbilt IV, the first child of Grace Wilson Vanderbilt and Cornelius Vanderbilt III, was born in New York City on April 30, 1898. He was educated at various boys’ schools in the United States, as well as in Europe, where his parents took him on their frequent sojourns abroad. With the entrance of the United States into World War I in 1917, young Cornelius, against his parents’ wishes, enlisted in the American Expeditionary Force. He served in France as a dispatch driver and was honorably discharged in 1919.
He began work as a cub reporter for the “New York Herald” and other newspapers, then and ever afterward using the by-line Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jr. Later, as a free-lance journalist, he moved westward, writing articles about the western United States for eastern newspapers. In 1923, he began the “Illustrated Daily News,” based in Los Angeles and expanded to San Francisco and Miami, but he proved a better journalist than business man and by 1926 he lost this enterprise to bankruptcy.
Cornelius and Patricia Wallace Vanderbilt IV
In the 1920s-1930s, he worked as an associate editor for the “New York Mirror” and he began traveling extensively throughout the world as a reporter for various news organizations. His syndicated column, “Going Places with Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jr.” continued into the 1940s, along with his newsletter, “Vagabonding with Vanderbilt,” which was published in the 1940s-1960s. In the 1940s, he also wrote a column, “High Spots” for “Script” magazine. During the years from the 1930s-1960s, he wrote over two hundred articles for many publications. He also wrote twelve books, some privately printed. In 1930, his novel, “Reno” was made into a movie by the same name and was widely reviewed. Many of his other books reflected his social and professional background, including “Farewell to Fifth Avenue“ (1930), “Queen of the Golden Age” (1956), and “Man of the World: My Life on Five Continents” (1959).
During World War II he served in the military again, as a major in the United States Army Intelligence Services from 1942-1943, when he was honorably discharged because of poor health .He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross of the F.B.I. in 1942.
He was married seven times but had no children. His wives were: Rachael Littleton (1920-1927), Mary Logan (1928-1931), Helen Varner (1935-1940), Felize Pablos (1946-1947), Patricia Wallace (1948-1953), Ann Needham (1957-1960), and Mary Lou Gardiner Bristol (1967-1974).
On July 7, 1974, Cornelius Vanderbilt IV died in Miami and was survived by his wife, Mary Lou Vanderbilt and her two children.