By Emily Smith, CNN
Nearly two decades after her death, Julia Child’s positive attitude and love for food still resonates with professional chefs and novice cooks around the world. She was a pioneer in the world of food and paved the way for women in the culinary arts and celebrity chefs on television.
Its heritage and cultural relevance are undeniable, whether you draw inspiration from a new Food Network show called “The Julia Child Challenge,” the HBO Max series starring actress Sarah Lancashire as Child, or the latest release, the CNN movie titled “Julia.”
There are so many things she is known for, including writing “Mastering the Art of French Cuisine” and starring on the TV show “The French Chef”. But here are some lesser-known facts you might not know about the beloved TV chef and cookbook author.
– Her maiden name is Julia Carolyn McWilliams.
– She wrote short stories in college and ad copy for a furniture company after graduation.
– At 6ft 2in tall, Child was no stranger to standing out. But his height has not always been welcome. The kid had high hopes of distinguishing himself in college basketball, but administration officials at Smith College, his alma mater, changed the rules of the game (they removed the jump ball) to ensure that she would not receive an unfair advantage because of her height. . “I wasn’t good for the rest of the game,” Child said in his only authorized biography, Noel Riley Fitch’s “Appetite for Life.”
– Child moved from California to Washington, DC at the start of World War II to join the Federal Office of Strategic Services. She had previously been rejected for active duty by US Navy women accepted for voluntary emergency service and the Women’s Army Corps. The OSS eventually became the Central Intelligence Agency.
– Child was a research assistant in the Secret Intelligence division of the OSS. Although she never spent any time in the field, she had a high security clearance that allowed her to handle top secret documents.
– During her time at the OSS, she also worked with the emergency sea rescue equipment section and even helped develop a shark repellent that was used during World War II. Underwater bombs intended for German U-boats attracted curious sharks which sometimes caused premature explosions when they hit them.
– With the OSS, Child was stationed in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and in China. While stationed overseas, she met Paul Child, also an OSS officer. He is credited with teaching her to appreciate French cuisine.
– Child was the first female inductee into the Culinary Institute of America Hall of Fame.
– A whopping 573 pounds of butter was used on his show “Baking with Julia.”
– The kid once attributed his longevity to “red meat and gin.” She died two days before her 92nd birthday.
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Note: This story was originally published on Child’s 100th birthday in 2012. The CNN Library also contributed to this report.