TAMPA, Florida. (AP) — Ann Turner Cooke, whose angelic baby face was known the world over as the original Gerber baby, has died. She was 95.
Gerber announced Cooke’s passing in an Instagram post on Friday.
“Years before she became an outstanding mother, teacher and writer, her smile and expressive curiosity won hearts everywhere and will continue to live on as a symbol for all children,” the company said in a statement.
Cooke was 5 months old when neighbor artist Dorothy Hope Smith drew a charcoal sketch of her that was later entered into a competition Gerber was running for a national baby food marketing campaign.
The image became so popular that it became the company’s trademark in 1931 and has been used in all packaging and advertising ever since.
However, for decades the child’s identity was kept secret, fueling rumors about who it was, 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, Florida and later became a detective novel writer.
Cooke told The Associated Press in a 1998 interview that her mother told her when she was young that she was the child in the illustration.
She said, “If you’re going to be a symbol of something, what could be nicer than a symbol of baby food?”
Regarding the image itself, she said, “All children are attractive. The reason the drawing was so popular is because the artist captured the attraction inherent in all children.”
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