TAMPA, Fla. — Ann Turner Cook, whose cherubic baby face was known the world over as the original Gerber baby, has died. She was 95.
Gerber announced Cook’s passing in an Instagram post on Friday.
“Many years before becoming an extraordinary mother, teacher and writer, her smile and expressive curiosity captured hearts everywhere and will continue to live on as a symbol for all babies,” the company said.
Cook was 5 months old when a neighbor, artist Dorothy Hope Smith, drew a charcoal sketch of her that was later submitted for a contest Gerber was holding for a national marketing campaign for baby food.
The image was a hit, so much so that it became the company’s trademark in 1931 and has been used in all packaging and advertising since.
For decades, though, the identity of the baby was kept secret, spurring rumors about who it was, with guesses including Humphrey Bogart and Elizabeth Taylor.
In the late 1970s, it was revealed to be Cook, who grew up to be an English teacher in Tampa, Fla., and later a mystery novelist.
Cook told The Associated Press in a 1998 interview that her mother had told her when she was young that she was the baby in the illustration.
She said, “If you’re going to be a symbol for something, what could be more pleasant than a symbol for baby food?”
As for the image itself, she said, “All babies are appealing. The reason that drawing has been so popular is the artist captured the appeal that all babies have.”