Ann Turner Cook, whose face sold billions of jars of baby food as the original Gerber Baby, has died at 95.
The retired teacher died Friday in St. Petersburg, Florida, The New York Times reports.
For years, the identity of one of the most iconic American advertising faces was a source of speculation in the media, with famous names like Marilyn Monroe and Humphrey Bogart (who would have been pushin' 30 in 1928 when a contest selected baby Ann as the ideal face to market Gerber products) bandied about as rumored models.
Born November 20, 1926, in Westport, Connecticut, a neighbor of hers — illustrator Dorothy Hope Smith — got wind of a contest run by Gerber for a perfect baby face to adorn its products. Hope Smith submitted a sketch she'd made of Turner Cook when she was 4-5 months old. It was unfinished, but Gerber loved it as it was and required no further embellishment.
The image quickly became famous, leading to Gerber trademarking it in the '30s. Though the identity of the infant was kept secret for decades, Turner Cook did eventually seek compensation, accepting just $5,000 in 1951 to close her case.
Only when the image turned 50 did Turner Cook come out as the Gerber Baby. She had kept it hush-hush until then, fearing mockery. Instead, she was celebrated and her students were fascinated by her unique status as a living, breathing piece of Americana.
Preceded in death by her husband, she is survived by three daughters, one son, eight grandchildren and nine grandchildren.
Asked if she fed all those babies Gerber products, she said in a 1987 interview, "Not exclusively."