Ann Turner Cook, whose cherubic baby face became known around the world as the original Gerber baby, has died. She was 95. Gerber announced Cook’s death on Instagram on Friday.
“Many years before she became an extraordinary mother, teacher, and writer, her 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 for a contest Gerber was holding for a national marketing campaign for baby food.
The image was so popular that it was adopted as the company’s trademark in 1931 and has since been used in all packaging and advertising.
The identity of the baby, however, was kept secret for decades, sparking rumors about who it was, with guesses including Humphrey Bogart and Elizabeth Taylor.
It was revealed in the late 1970s that it was Cook, who grew up to be an English teacher in Tampa, Florida, and later a mystery novelist. Cook told The Associated Press in 1998 that her mother told her as a child that she was the baby in the illustration.
“If you’re going to be a symbol for something, what could be more pleasant than a symbol for baby food?” she explained. “All babies are appealing. The reason that drawing has been so popular is the artist captured the appeal that all babies have.″