Anderson was out of the AC360 anchor chair again tonight and Ashleigh Banfield was filling in. With CNN Heroes airing Sunday evening (see press release at the end of this post); and that were he still alive today, Gordon Parks would be celebrating his 100th birthday, we thought it fitting to re-visit this 2010 CNN video and blog post where Anderson talks about his personal hero, Gordon Parks ~
"He is the person that probably put the spark in me about reporting." ~ Anderson Cooper
And Anderson questions about his personal hero, Mr. Parks on CNN.com ~
Pioneering photographer inspired Anderson Cooper
November 19, 2010
"Before I even knew what the word cool meant, I knew Gordon Parks was cool." CNN's Anderson Cooper
(CNN) -- Since 2007, Anderson Cooper has hosted "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute," a gala that honors the Top 10 CNN Heroes of the year.
In preparation for this year's show, CNN asked Cooper for his thoughts about the event and who he admires.
CNN: Who is your personal hero?
Anderson Cooper: Growing up, I had someone who was sort of a mentor who was really a hero to me -- a man named Gordon Parks, who actually was quite famous. He was the first African-American photographer for Life magazine, first African-American to direct a major Hollywood picture ("The Learning Tree" in 1969). And he passed away just a few years ago, and he's somebody who still to this day I think of often.
CNN: Why do you think Gordon Parks was heroic?
Cooper: Gordon Parks was a guy who was born into nothing. ... There was no strong family. There was no one telling him how he should be and what steps he should take. You know, there's that term, you pull yourself up from your own bootstraps? Well, he built his own bootstraps.
And he felt something inside of him that pushed him to pick up a camera. And to start taking pictures. And then to get himself to be the first African-American photographer at Life magazine. And to take some of the pictures he did, and what he told us in the story of his pictures ... he told stories that Life magazine wasn't covering before. Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam. And gangs in Harlem. And Gordon could get access that other people couldn't get.
And yet what I found so heroic about him is that he had such a decent heart. And he was driven. But it wasn't a drive purely about himself. It wasn't a drive to make the most money. It was a drive to give back and a drive to sort of give voice to the feelings inside him, whether that was through photography or through poetry or through writing.
He wrote best-selling books. Directed films (including "Shaft" in 1971). He was truly a Renaissance man.
It's always very interesting to me why some people have that inner drive and that push forward. And he certainly did. And there was no reason for him to have it. He could have had every excuse in the book for not accomplishing something with his life, but he lived many lives and he accomplished things in all of those lives. And I think that he was a true hero.
CNN: Sounds like Gordon Parks had quite an impact on you.
Cooper: I think he's the person who probably put the spark in me about reporting and about getting out there and seeing the world. He took photographs in Brazil and in the favellas in Rio and wrote books about one of the young men he met there. There were just so many stories that he would tell. And he was such a cool character. He was so incredibly dashing. He was the coolest guy. Before I even knew what the word cool meant, I knew Gordon Parks was cool.
Celebrity Lineup for CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute Airing LIVE Sunday, Dec. 2 at 9PM EST
ADRIEN BRODY, HARVEY KEITEL, MARIA BELLO, JOSH DUHAMEL, RAINN WILSON, JEFF GORDON JOIN SUSAN SARANDON, VIOLA DAVIS, JANE LYNCH, RICO RODRIGUEZ, MIRANDA COSGROVE, DAVID SPADE, CULLEN JONES AND 50 CENT, WITH MUSICAL PERFORMANCES BY NE-YO AND PHILLIP PHILLIPS
ANDERSON COOPER HOSTS FROM THE SHRINE AUDITORIUM IN LA
Academy Award-winning actor Adrien Brody, Academy Award-nominated actor Harvey Keitel, Golden Globes-nominated actress and Official Goodwill Ambassador for Women in Haiti Maria Bello, Emmy Award-winning actor Josh Duhamel, Emmy Award-nominated actor Rainn Wilson, four-time NASCAR Cup Champion Jeff Gordon and musical guest, American Idol winner Phillip Phillips, join CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute, hosted by Anderson Cooper airing LIVE on Sunday, December 2 at 9pm, ET.
The live program’s celebrity lineup also features (previously announced) Susan Sarandon, two-time Academy Award nominee Viola Davis, Glee’s Jane Lynch, Modern Family’s Rico Rodriguez, iCarly star Miranda Cosgrove, Rules of Engagement star David Spade, Olympic Gold Medalist Cullen Jones and hip-hop star 50 Cent. Three-time Grammy Award winning singer songwriter NE-YO and American Idol Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips areset to perform.
Each of the 2012 Top 10 CNN Heroes will have his or her story told by celebrities at the live event, which takes place at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, CA. During the live celebration, the 2012 CNN Hero of the Year will be announced. CNN Heroes: An All Star Tribute is sponsored by BP, GEICO, Humana, Johnson & Johnson, SERVPRO®, Subaru of America, Inc., and Tide.
Airing just prior to CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute will be a one-hour presentation, CNN Heroes: Sharing the Spotlight at 8pm ET, hosted by Cooper. The special features exclusive interviews with NE-YO (conducted by HLN’s Showbiz Tonight host A.J. Hammer), Ben Stiller, and Christy Turlington Burns, who talk about their passions, foster care, Haiti, and maternal health, respectively. The special will feature live cut-ins from CNN’s Nischelle Turner, providing red carpet coverage and interviews with luminaries in attendance.
Now in its sixth year, the CNN Heroes initiative has received more than 45,000 nominations from more than 100 countries and profiled over 180 everyday heroes doing extraordinary work. Voting is now closed for this year’s top 10 nominees. Stories and photo galleries of the Top 10 CNN Heroes who will be honored on Dec. 2, can be found at www.CNNHeroes.com.
During the broadcast, viewers can participate in a 'CNN Heroes' live blog at CNN.com/Backstage. The companion experience will feature exclusive behind-the-scenes photos, videos, trivia and comments from host Anderson Cooper, presenters and performers. Viewers can “join the conversation” while they watch, signing in from Facebook, Twitter and other social media. The live blog will also be available on mobile devices and in the CNN Heroes sectionof the CNN iPad app.
On social media, visit the CNN Heroes page on Facebook and follow @CNN Heroes on Twitter, the hashtag #CNNHeroes. Additionally, behind-the-scenes CNN Heroes images can be viewed on CNN Heroes’ Instagram account. GetGlue users can “check-in” to CNN Heroes for exclusive limited-edition CNN Heroes stickers.