February 3, 2023

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Ann Turner Cook Dies at 95; Her Face Sold Baby Food by the Billions

2 min read

The long anonymity of the Gerber baby also ensured that there was at least one pretender to the throne. In the 1940s, one family sued the company, claiming that its child was the baby on the label. Testifying in court, Ms. Smith disclosed her model’s identity, and the suit was decided in Gerber’s favor.

Ms. Cook, who had been aware of her role since early childhood, kept her own counsel. After moving with her family to Orlando, Fla., in the late 1930s, she earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, followed by a master’s in the field from the University of South Florida. She taught junior high and high school English, becoming the department chairwoman of Hillsborough High School in Tampa, Fla.

As a young teacher, Ms. Cook, fearful of the exquisite brand of disdain at which adolescents excel, chose never to disclose her infantile identity. Only in the late 1970s, with Gerber’s commemoration of the drawing’s 50th anniversary, did she publicly reveal herself as its subject. Her students, she later said, were intrigued.

Ms. Cook’s husband, James Cook, a criminologist who was a major with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Tampa, died in 2004. She had a son, Clifford, and, in addition to Jan, two other daughters with him, Carol and Kathy. Complete information on her survivors was not immediately available.

After retiring from teaching, Ms. Cook wrote a series of self-published crime novels. She grew amiably reconciled to life as the Gerber baby, granting interviews and appearing on the television quiz show “To Tell the Truth.”

Bogart was a small lingering irritant, but he could be borne.

Ms. Cook’s long-ago likeness remains a cultural touchstone to this day. In recent years, Gerber, now a subsidiary of Nestlé, has held an annual babies’ photo contest, awarding a grand prize of $25,000 and using the winner in its advertising.

Once she identified herself as the Gerber baby — and as the mother of…

Margalit Fox

2022-06-04 11:35:32

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