Julia Child

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Julia Child

Autograph Sentiment on Card - 2000

Autographed 3.5″ x 6.5″ Card, signed in black Sharpie “Bon Appetit! Julia Child”. In excellent condition, with notations on reverse, “Julia Child / Brown Univ. – 5/29/2000,” the day Ms. Child received an Honorary Doctorate Degree from Brown University, along with many other notables. From the Brown University’s Press Release that week:

Commencement 2000

Brown will award 10 honorary degrees at Commencement May 29.

Honorary degree recipients at Brown University’s 232nd Commencement include Xerox scientist John Seely Brown, author and chef Julia Child, geneticist Francis S. Collins, violin teacher Dorothy DeLay, Providence artist Barnaby Evans, the Rev. Gustavo Gutierrez, abstract artist Brice Marden, author David McCullough, Israeli scholar Alice Shalvi and Louis Sullivan, president of the Morehouse School of Medicine.

JULIA CHILD (1912-2004) was a famous American cook, author, spy, and television personality, who introduced French cuisine and cooking techniques to the American mainstream, through her many cookbooks and television programs. Her most famous works are the 1961 cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and, showcasing her sui generis television persona, the series The French Chef, which premiered in 1963.

Julia Child grew up in Pasadena, California, eating traditional New England food prepared by the family maid. Her father was of Irish descent. She attended Polytechnic School from fourth grade to ninth grade and then The Branson School in Ross, California. After graduating in 1934 from Smith College-where at 6 feet, 2 inches tall she played basketball-with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, she moved to New York City and worked as a copywriter for the advertising department of upscale home-furnishing firm W. & J. Sloane. After returning to California in 1937, shortly before her mother died, she spent four years at home, writing for local publications and briefly working in advertising again.

Being civic-minded, she volunteered with the American Red Cross and, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) after being turned down by the United States Navy for being too tall. (The OSS was broken up by President Truman in September of 1945, eventually to be replaced by the Central Intelligence Agency). She began her OSS career at its headquarters in Washington, working directly for General William J. Donovan, the leader of OSS. Working as a research assistant in the Secret Intelligence division, Julia typed up thousands of names on white note cards used to keep track of enemy officers.

When it was first published in 1961 by Alfred A. Knopf, the 734-page Mastering the Art of French Cooking was a best-seller and received critical acclaim that derived in part from the American interest in French culture in the early 1960s. Lauded for its helpful illustrations, precise attention to detail, and for making fine cuisine accessible to the masses, the book is still in print and is considered a seminal culinary work. Following this success, Child wrote magazine articles and a regular column for The Boston Globe newspaper.

A 1962 appearance on a book review show on the National Educational Television (NET) station of Boston, WGBH led to the inception of her television cooking show after viewers enjoyed her demonstration of how to cook an omelette. The French Chef debuted February 11, 1963 on WGBH and was immediately successful. The show ran nationally for ten years and won Peabody and Emmy Awards, including the very first Emmy award for an Educational program. Though she was not the first television cook, Child was the most widely seen. Her primary “competitor” for viewers was Britain’s The Galloping Gourmet, another successful cooking show of the time.

In 2001, she moved to a retirement community in Santa Barbara, California, donating her house and office to Smith College. She donated her kitchen, which her husband designed with high counters to accommodate her diminished but still formidable height, and which served as the set for three of her television series, to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, where it is now on display in Washington, D.C.

She received the French Legion of Honor in 2000 and the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003. Child also received honorary doctorates from Harvard University, her alma mater Smith College, and several other universities.

Her husband, 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, Child died of kidney failure at her assisted-living home in Montecito. Her final meal was French onion soup.



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