Was Humphrey Bogart the Model for the Gerber Baby?

Posted on 09 Sep 2014 17:55

Here is how it usually goes: Did you know that the Gerber Baby is actually a picture of Humphrey Bogart (or one of several other celebrities) when he was a baby? His mother drew it! Now that is fascinating. Humphrey Bogart is like the quintessential tough-guy, and he is the Gerber baby. Wow! His mother was a commercial artist. It makes sense. She got the job to design the Gerber trademark icon, and she just happened to have a model on hand: Little Humphrey!

This is the kind of story you wish were true. It has that kind of ironic balance we look for in our legends. It's just a bit twisted, but also a bit darling. Too bad it is so easy to put to bed. Humphrey Bogart was one of the big-screen's main leading-men during the 1930's and 40's. He was born, however, on December 25, 1899.

The Gerber Baby started appearing in magazine advertisements in such publications as Good Housekeeping, Ladies' Home Journal, Journal of the American Dietetics Association, and Journal of the American Medical Association, in the late 1920's. The baby became the official trademark of the company (then Fremont Canning Company), in 1931. Keep in mind that the company did not start making baby food until around 1927. So, the baby was first appeared around the same time that Bogart was a big movie star, not long after the first Gerber baby food went on the market.

The Gerber baby was actually first drawn by Dorothy Hope Smith and of course, it never had anything to do with Humphrey Bogart. By the time the baby was even conceived of (get it?), old Bogie was about to turn 30 years old.

Other Famous People Rumored To Be the Gerber Baby

Bogie is not the only famous actor, or celebrity that has been thought to have been the Gerber Baby. People have believed it to be Elizabeth Taylor, Ernest Borgnine, and for a while, the rumor was that the baby was Senator Bob Doyle. And, according to the Gerber Company, Jane Seymour was also rumored to be the Gerber baby. Brooke Shields, as well, had her turn. This, at least, makes sense, since Brooke Shields was a child model, although she would had to have been over 70 years old at the time of the rumor, since the Gerber baby never changed for over 85 years. The true identity of the baby was kept a secret by the company for many years.


Still, though, you can imagine the Gerber baby to be Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Seymour, or Brooke Shields and you'd be thinking, that's interesting, but so what? These rumors are not very interesting, as urban legends go. But to take a guy with a macho, tough-guy image and place his super-cute baby visage on a bottle of baby food, and you have the best kind of urban legend, one with that sense of contrast, or ironic twist that so many urban myths have in common. The same thing goes for Bob Doyle, not exactly a gentle flower. Ernest Borgnine could do a lot more than play "the heavy" which he proved on numerous occasions, but it's still pretty weird to imagine that the Gerber baby was him. With all three, could they really have been that darn cute?

Whose the Real Gerber Baby?

It turns out that the Gerbers ran a competition for the best drawing of the Gerber baby. Dorothy Hope Smith submitted a simple charcoal sketch while others submitted oil paintings and high quality portraits. Was the baby somebody famous to be? Yes. It was a cute little thing named Ann Turner Cook, who was born in 1926 and grew up to become a teacher and then later, a Mystery novelist. Her mother, Leslie Turner, was a comic strip artist, responsible for the Captain Easy comic strip. Dorothy Hope Smith was their neighbor.

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