Watching Madonna's royal love story W.E. gave newsman Anderson Cooper a real insight into his family history - because he had no idea his great aunt Thelma Furness was King Edward Viii's first mistress.
The pop superstar's new film chronicles the British monarch's controversial romance with American divorcee Wallis Simpson, for whom he gave up the throne, but scenes in W.E. also shed light on the then-Prince of Wales' other lover Furness - the woman who introduced Edward to Simpson in 1931.
During an interview with Madonna on his U.S. talk show Anderson, which aired on Thursday (02Feb12), Cooper revealed it was only after seeing W.E. that he realised he had a real connection to the British royal family.
He told the studio audience, "One of the things that was fun for me, watching the movie, is that my great aunt is in the movie. Thelma... was the mistress of the Prince before Wallis Simpson came around."
Joking about the connection, Madonna said, "Ironically, Wallis met the future king through your great aunt. We're kind of related! She had to go back to America - she was American, like Wallis - and she was a great beauty... So she asked Wallis to take care of her boyfriend while she was away... There's a lesson in this - don't leave the man you love for four months, OK? Just don't!"
The Material Girl, who co-wrote and directed W.E., later turned the tables on Cooper by quizzing him about his knowledge of his great aunt, who was the identical twin of his late maternal grandmother, Gloria.
Asked whether he ever discussed Simpson with his mother or her relatives, Cooper replied, "I never met Thelma. My grandmother, I think I met but I was so young, I don't remember it... There's a picture of my mum with the future king at Thelma's house, which was later bombed during World War Two... I remember seeing this picture, but I never really put two and two together and figured out, 'Oh wait a minute, that's the guy who became the king and abdicated.'"
After watching W.E. the CNN newsman called his mother and quizzed her about her aunt.
He told Madonna, "I wish I had known them... It's weird because I don't feel much of a connection to (them)."