High School English Teacher Ann Turner Cook: She is the Iconic Face of the Gerber Baby!

original[1]Did you know that the iconic image of the healthy, happy baby with the sparkling eyes and the inquisitive look on Gerber baby products grew up to become a high school English teacher? That’s right!

The name of that irresistible baby is Anne Turner Cook. She was born on November 20, 1926, the daughter of Leslie Turner, a syndicated cartoonist who drew the comic strip Captain Easy for more than a decade. In 1928, when Anne was only five months old,  the Gerber company announced they were seeking images of a baby to use on the packaging of their upcoming line of baby foods. Artist Dorothy Hope Smith, a neighbor of the Turner family, submitted a charcoal sketch of Ann, promising to finish the drawing if it was selected. Smith’s drawing competed with thousands of entries, including many elaborate oil paintings, but the judges fell in love with this baby’s cherubic face and, when choosing it as the winner, insisted that the simple illustration remain a sketch. The image was trademarked in 1931, and it has been used on Gerber baby food packaging ever since.

When she grew up, Ann attended the University of South Florida and other post-secondary schools, where she studied education, English, and journalism. She earned several degrees, including a master’s degree in English Education. After completing her education, Ann became a teacher at Oak Hill Elementary in Tampa, Florida, later transferring to the English Department at Madison Junior High School. In 1966, she accepted a position at Hillsborough High School, also in Tampa, where she taught literature and creative writing. In 1972, her students dedicated their school yearbook, the Hillsborean, to their beloved teacher, who had personally sponsored the book. In it, her students described her as “a teacher who really communicates with the students,” and who, “without any complaints, has stayed late, worked nights, and with quiet efficiency supported her staff in their monumental task.”

Ann’s career as an educator spanned twenty-six years. After retiring, this talented teacher became a successful novelist. A member of the Mystery Writers of America, she is the author of the Brandy O’Bannon series of mystery novels set on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The adventures of Florida reporter and amateur sleuth Brandy O’Bannon are described in Trace Their Shadows, published in 2001, Shadow Over Cedar Key, published in 2003, and Micanopy in Shadow, published in 2008.