America’s Golden Age spanned from 1870 to 1900. During this time there was rapid economic growth.
The Golden Age was a time of massive wealth contrasted with extreme poverty. Wealth was concentrated among a few families, with 2% of American families owning more than a third of the country’s wealth.
Among the leading Golden Age families were the Vanderbilts led by Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794 – 1877). Cornelius was a shipping and railroad magnate. When he died, he left an enormous fortune to his children. Yet most of the wealth was lost by the time the current generation of Vanderbilts were born.
This is documented in a few books such as Fortune’s Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt and Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty.
The current descendants of Cornelius are no longer as wealthy as he was, but they still retain pride in their surname. They have seemingly regular jobs and some of them also work in the entertainment industry.
Vanderbilt’s most notable descendant in Hollywood is actor Timothy Olyphant (b. 1968). His paternal fourth great-grandfather was Cornelius Vanderbilt.
Olyphant is best known for the FX series Justified but he has also played supporting roles in a number of films since 1996. Olyphant will next appear in the sequel to the Justified series called Justified: City Primeval.
Olyphant’s net worth is estimated at $20 million – not bad for a descendant of Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt’s second descendant in the entertainment industry is Anderson Cooper (b. 1967). Anderson is a broadcast journalist and political commentator. His great-great-great-grandfather was Cornelius Vanderbilt. Anderson is currently a host on CNN on his own show, Anderson Cooper 360. He has won multiple Emmys and two Peabody Awards throughout his career.
Anderson and Olyphant are once distant third cousins.
Anderson is said to have a net worth of $50-200 million.
The third Hollywood star descended from the Vanderbilt family is screenwriter James Vanderbilt (b. 1975) who directed popular films such as Zodiac, white house downthe amazing spider man, and Scream (2022). James is working on the next Scream film to be released in 2023.
James’ net worth as Vanderbilt is said to be $20 million.
Another celebrity often thought to be related to Cornelius Vanderbilt’s descent is actor Chevy Chase. However, Chevy is not related by blood to the family. He was an “adopted” member of the wealthy Crane family.