Original Gerber baby Ann Turner Cook dies

At a competition more than 90 years ago, judges fell in love with a simple charcoal sketch of a happy baby. But this infant’s name remained a mystery for decades.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Decades after her portrait became one of the world’s most recognized brand icons, Ann Turner Cook – the original Gerber baby – has died at the age of 95.

Although her appearance as an infant was known to billions, people in her lifetime remember her as a mother, teacher and writer.

“Many years before she became an extraordinary mother, teacher and writer, her smile and expressive curiosity won hearts everywhere and will live on as a symbol for all babies,” Gerber wrote on Instagram on Friday. “We extend our deepest condolences to Ann’s family and to all who had the pleasure of meeting her.”

Cook’s likeness became Gerber’s symbol after a 1928 contest. According to the brand’s website, artist Dorothy Hope Smith submitted a simple charcoal sketch of her little neighbor and noted that if she won, she would finish the sketch.

“Her drawing competed with elaborate oil paintings, but the judges fell in love with the baby face Smith drew, and in choosing it as the winner they insisted that the simple illustration remain a sketch,” the website reads.

The illustration has appeared on all Gerber packaging and advertisements since 1931, but the identity of the angelic baby was unknown for more than 40 years. Assumptions as to the identity of the baby varied widely: was it a movie star like Elizabeth Taylor? A rather unexpected socialite, like former US Senator Bob Dole?

According to Gerber, Cook’s identity was revealed in 1978. She was a retired English teacher in Tampa and a crime writer.

Cook’s family confirmed to the New York Times that she died in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday.

According to The New York Times, Cook kept her identity as the Gerber baby a secret for so long because she was afraid of ridicule. She cashed in on just $5,000 for the use of her image in the early 1950s — a sum that enabled her to make a down payment on a home.

Cook knew she was the Gerber baby long before the world found out. She said her mother told her when she was young.

“If you want to be an icon for something, what could be nicer than a baby food icon?” she told the Associated Press in 1998.

https://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-world/gerber-baby-ann-turner-cook-dies-at-95/507-98fec9d3-40e9-4635-9a09-0c9db1b72887 Original Gerber baby Ann Turner Cook dies

Emma James

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