The long anonymity of the Gerber baby also ensured that there was at the very least one pretender to the throne. Within the Forties, one family sued the corporate, claiming that its child was the newborn 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 along with her family to Orlando, Fla., within the late Nineteen Thirties, she earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, followed by a master’s in the sphere from the University of South Florida. She taught junior high and highschool English, becoming the department chairwoman of Hillsborough High School in Tampa, Fla.
As a young teacher, Ms. Cook, frightened of the exquisite brand of disdain at which adolescents excel, selected never to reveal her infantile identity. Only within the late Nineteen Seventies, with Gerber’s commemoration of the drawing’s fiftieth 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 serious with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Tampa, died in 2004. Her survivors include three daughters, Jan Cook, Carol Legarreta and Kathy Cook; a son, Clifford; eight grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.
After retiring from teaching, Ms. Cook wrote a series of self-published crime novels. She grew amiably reconciled to life because the Gerber baby, granting interviews and appearing on the tv quiz show “To Tell the Truth.”
Bogart was a small lingering irritant, but he might be borne.
Ms. Cook’s long-ago likeness stays a cultural touchstone to at the present time. Lately, 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 promoting.
Once she identified herself because the Gerber baby — and because the mother of 4 as well — Ms. Cook left herself open to a matter that she had to reply cagily. She gave just such a solution when The Globe and Mail, the Canadian newspaper, put the query to her in a 1987 interview:
Did she feed her own children Gerber baby food?
There was a slight pause.
“Not exclusively,” Ms. Cook replied.