George Washington Vanderbilt III
Born in New York City, he was the son of Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt and his second wife, Margaret Emerson. He was named in honor of his great-great-uncle George Washington Vanderbilt and his great-uncle George Washington Vanderbilt II. He was the brother of Alfred G. Vanderbilt II and a half-brother to William Henry Vanderbilt III from his father's first marriage. His father perished in the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915 when George was only a year old.
His mother remarried two more times and had a daughter, Gloria Baker. Vanderbilt's maternal grandfather, Isaac E. Emerson, was a very wealthy businessman who made a fortune in a variety of business ventures including patent medicines, the most notable of which was Bromo-Seltzer. A sailing enthusiast, Emerson instilled a love for the sport in young George from an early age and as an adult, he used his sailing skills and wealth for scientific research.
In 1936 and 1937 George Vanderbilt sponsored a renewal of auto races for the Vanderbilt Cup but most important to him was a scholarly interest in the study of marine life. He owned several yachts and used them to conduct scientific expeditions all over the globe. His voyages conducted important research in expeditions to Africa in 1934 and aboard the schooner Cressida, he made an ocean journey in 1937 to the South Pacific (visiting many islands with a wide geographic range) that carried out a systematic study of more than 10,000 fish specimens (434 species in 210 genera).
Like his two brothers, he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He was promoted to lieutenant on May 1, 1943.
He established the George Vanderbilt Foundation for scientific research but outside academic circles, his important work has mostly been overshadowed by the lavish lifestyles and the Vanderbilt mansions of some of the other members of the Vanderbilt family.
In 1946, George Vanderbilt married Anita Zabala, a descendant of one of California's first Spanish families and the former wife of California sportsman Lindsay C. Howard. They divorced in 1958 after nearly twelve years of marriage. 
On June 24, 1961, George Washington Vanderbilt III apparently committed suicide by leaping from his 10th floor suite at the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco, California. His wife said he was despondent over unspecified business setbacks. Investigators found large amounts of alcohol in his blood stream.
His former yacht, the Pioneer, is now the Yankee Clipper, which sails with passengers in the Caribbean for Windjammer Barefoot Cruises.
- "George Vanderbilt Is Killed in Plunge; George Vanderbilt, 47, Is Killed In Plunge From Hotel on Coast". The New York Times. June 25, 1961. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
- Curiosity served: Biltmore opens servants' quarters, Tim Whitmire, Associated Press via The San Diego Union-Tribune, December 25, 2005.
- John Singer Sargent's George Washington Vanderbilt at jssgallery.org
- Antiques of the Biltmore Estate at go-star.com