Born Ann Leslie Turner in Westport, Connecticut, she was the daughter of a syndicated cartoonist Leslie Turner, who drew the comic strip Captain Easy for decades. Dorothy Hope Smith, their next-door neighbor, who did a charcoal drawing of Ann when she was a baby. Gerber chose that drawing in 1928.
Cook’s identity was kept secret until it was revealed in 1978 on the TV show “To Tell the Truth”. The most recognizable baby in the world now actually had a name.
We extend our deepest sympathies to Ann’s family and to anyone who had the pleasure of knowing herGerber
Gerber adopted the iconic sketch as its official trademark in 1931. Dan and Dorothy Gerber founded the baby food company in 1927. A contest is now held every year to search for a new face of Gerber. Recent winners include Lucas, the first Gerber baby with Down syndrome; Magnolia, the first adopted “spokesbaby;” and this year’s winner, Isa from Oklahoma. Ann’s family moved to Orlando, Florida, later in her childhood.
She received a bachelor’s degree in English from Southern Methodist University and a master’s degree in English education from the University of South Florida. Ann taught elementary school in Florida and then at Madison Junior High School, in Tampa, Florida.
In 1966 she joined the English Department of Tampa’s Hillsborough High School, where she taught literature and creative writing. After retiring from teaching she turned into a novelist. She became a member of the Mystery Writers of America and wrote the “Brandy O’Bannon” series of mystery novels set on Florida’s Gulf Coast. She also penned “Trace Their Shadows” (2001) and “Shadow over Cedar Key” (2003). She married James Cook, a criminologist with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, with whom she had 4 children. She died at age 95 on June 3, 2022, at her St. Petersburg, Florida home.
- Captain Easy, Soldier of Fortune is an American action/adventure comic strip created by Roy Crane that was syndicated by Newspaper Enterprise Association beginning on Sunday, July 30, 1933. The strip ran for more than five decades until it was discontinued on October 1, 1988.
- Mystery Writers of America (MWA) is an organization of mystery and crime writers, based in New York City, and founded in 1945. Members have been the likes of Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, Alfred Hitchcock, Mickey Spillane, and Stephen King.
- Trace Their Shadows – Rumors of a ghost lure beginning reporter Brandy O’Bannon to a mansion on an isolated Florida lake and into an investigation that leads to a forty-five-year-old skeleton, a concealed murder, and an unexpected romance. As Brandy searches for answers, she questions eccentric suspects and tries to help an intriguing young architect save the century-old home from developers. Hidden emotions boil to the surface when she unravels events at the house during a fatal, long-ago celebration. As she closes in on the truth, she becomes a target for the killer. After escaping threats and attacks with the help of the conflicted architect, who opposes her investigation, and her golden retriever, she devises a daring plan to trap the murderer. It almost costs Brandy her life, but her scheme solves the mysteries of both murder and ghost by exposing the secret of the house.
- Shadow Over Cedar Key – Florida reporter Brandy O’Bannon is intrigued by a classified ad that asks an unidentified woman, who has been missing for twenty years, to come forward. The young mother and her two-year-old daughter disappeared as Hurricane Agnes swept into the historic Gulf coast village of Cedar Key, although no fatalities were reported. When Brandy learns that a woman’s skeleton was found a year later in the basement of one of the state’s oldest and Cedar Key’s most charming hotel, she begins a search for answers. The grisly fate of the private detective who placed the ad is soon discovered by Brandy’s golden retriever. While trying to resolve both mysteries, Brandy ferrets out a new friend’s true identity and guides her to self-knowledge. In the process, Brandy becomes the victim of the attack, kidnapping, and hurricane. She outwits both nature and assailants, helps solve two brutal murders-and gets her front-page story.