The Original Gerber Baby, Ann Turner Cook, Dies at 95

CBS Evening News

Before Gerber launched their baby food line, they held a contest to choose an image of a baby to use in their advertising campaign. Many artists entered the contests and submitted a wide variety of artwork ranging from elaborate oil paintings to simple sketches.

Dorothy Hope Smith submitted the winning artwork. It was a simple charcoal sketch of her neighbor’s baby who was 4 months old at the time of the sketch. When she submitted it, she offered to elaborate on the sketch if Gerber chose it, but the company decided they liked the sketch as is.

Ann Turner Cook was the baby in the sketch. Her identity was not revealed until decades later, but Cook says that when she was still a child, her mother told her that she was the baby in the Gerber advertising campaign.

Cook’s family lived in Connecticut, and they were neighbors with Smith. Cook later moved to Florida where she became an English teacher and then a mystery novelist.

In 1998, Cook told The Associated Press, “If you’re going to be a symbol for something, what could be more pleasant than a symbol for baby food?”

Cook recently passed away. She was 95 years old. Gerber announced the news on Instagram by posting a picture of Cook and writing, “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. We extend our deepest sympathies to Ann’s family and to anyone who had the pleasure of knowing her.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Gerber (@gerber)

Several of Cook’s former students commented on Gerber’s post. One wrote, “I was one of the extremely fortunate kids who had Mrs. Cook as my English teacher. This breaks my heart. She was an amazing woman.”

Another comment reads, “Mrs. Cook… the OG! She was a wonderful teacher at HHS… The Big Red Terriers are mourning her loss….”

Yet another former student wrote, “Sending my deepest condolences to all her family , friends and loved ones!!! She was one of the sweetest kindest people ever!!! She was one of our teachers in High School!!!”

Watch the video below for more about Cook’s life and death.

[Image credit: YouTube]