Name at birth: Julia McWilliams
Julia Child was America's most famous chef in the 1960s, thanks to her jolly TV cooking show The French Chef. Julia Child began studying French cooking while living in Paris in the late 1940s, after World War II. During the 1950s she co-founded a cooking school, L'Ecole des Trois Gourmandes, and with her partners began working on a cookbook. That book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, was published in 1961 to much acclaim. Its success helped get Julia Child her own cooking show, The French Chef, which premiered in 1963 and appeared nationally on PBS for a decade. It was followed by other shows with titles like Julia Child & Company and Dinner at Julia's, and in the end she cooked on TV for nearly four decades. Child was beloved for her good nature and unflappable style in the kitchen; on TV she was as much good company as expert chef. Child won numerous awards around the world, and is often credited with having improved American culinary habits. She wrote many books, among them The Way to Cook (1989) and the memoir My Life in France, published posthumously in 2006.
Julia Child was played by Meryl Streep in the 2009 movie Julie and Julia… During World War II, Julia Child worked for the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency. She was stationed in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and China… She married Paul Child in 1946. He was a fellow OSS agent whom she met in Ceylon. They had no children and remained married until his death in 1994.