TAMPA, FL, USA ( Associated Press) — Ann Turner Cook, the original baby of the Gerber food brand and known worldwide for her angelic baby face, has died at the age of 95.
The Gerber company announced Cook’s death in an Instagram post on Friday.
“Long before she became an extraordinary mother, teacher and writer, her smile and expressive curiosity captured hearts around the world and will live on as a symbol for all babies,” the company said.
When Cook was five months old, a neighbor, artist Dorothy Hope Smith, drew a charcoal sketch of her that she then submitted to a contest Gerber organized for a national baby food ad campaign.
The image was such a success that it became the company image in 1931 and has been used on all packaging and advertising ever since.
For decades, however, the baby’s identity was kept a secret, leading to rumors about who she was, with guesses including Humphrey Bogart and Elizabeth Taylor.
In the late 1970s it emerged that it was Cook, who became an English teacher in Tampa, Florida, and later a mystery writer.
In a 1998 interview, Cook told The Associated Press that her mother had told her as a child that she was the baby in the illustration.
She said: “If you’re going to be a symbol for something, what could be nicer than a symbol for baby food?”
Referring to the image itself, he said: “All babies are eye-catching. The reason why that drawing has been so popular is that the artist captured the charm that all babies have.