People Who Kick Buts: Julia Child
Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.
- Born on August 15, 1912 in Pasadena, California and passed away on August 13, 2004.
- She is recognized for introducing French cuisine to the American public with her debut cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and her subsequent television programs, the most notable of which was The French Chef, which premiered in 1963.
- In 1996, Julia Child was ranked #46 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time.
- Born Julia Carolyn McWilliams in Pasadena, California, the daughter of John McWilliams, Jr., a Princeton University graduate and prominent land manager, and his wife, the former Julia Carolyn (“Caro”) Weston, a paper-company heiress whose father, Byron Curtis Weston, served as lieutenant governor of Massachusetts. The eldest of three children, she had a brother, John III (1914–2002), and a sister, Dorothy Dean (1917–2006).
- Child attended Westridge School, Polytechnic School from fourth grade to ninth grade, then The Katherine Branson School in Ross, California, which was at the time a boarding school. At six feet, two inches (1.88 m) tall, Child played tennis, golf, and basketball as a child and continued to play sports while attending Smith College, from which she graduated in 1934 with a major in English.
- Following her graduation from college, Child moved to New York City, where she worked as a copywriter for the advertising department of upscale home-furnishing firm W. & J. Sloane. Returning to California in 1937, she spent the next four years writing for local publications, working in advertising, and volunteering with the Junior League of Pasadena.
- Child joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) after finding that she was too tall to enlist in the Women’s Army Corps (WACs) or in the U.S. Navy’s WAVES.
- She began her OSS career as a typist at its headquarters in Washington, but because of her education and experience soon was given a more responsible position as a top secret researcher working directly for the head of OSS, General William J. Donovan.
- Child repeatedly recalled her first meal in Rouen as a culinary revelation; once, she described the meal of oysters, sole meunière, and fine wine to The New York Times as “an opening up of the soul and spirit for me.”
- In Paris, she attended the famous Le Cordon Bleu cooking school and later studied privately with Max Bugnard and other master chefs.
- After the death of her beloved friend Simone Beck, Child relinquished La Peetch after a month long stay in June 1992 with her niece, Phila, and her family. She turned the keys over to Jean Fischbacher’s sister, just as she and Paul had promised nearly 30 years earlier. Paul, who was ten years older, died in 1994 after living in a nursing home for five years following a series of strokes in 1989.
- On August 13, 2004, Julia Child died of kidney failure at her retirement community home, Casa Dorinda, in Montecito, two days before her 92nd birthday.