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Julia Child Dies at 91

Aug 13, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Julia Child, the venerable chef whose pioneering television cooking show in the 1960s helped inspire legions of TV-star chefs and a cable channel devoted to food and cooking, died early Friday morning at her home in Santa Barbara, Calif. She was 91.

Ms. Child reportedly died in her sleep, just two days before her 92nd birthday.

Ms. Child came to television late in life, launching her television series “The French Chef” in 1963 at age 51. Produced by Boston public television station WGBH-TV, Ms. Child starred in 206 episodes, winning a Peabody award in 1965 and an Emmy in 1966. “The French Chef” ultimately became the longest-running series in public television.

She went on to star in several follow-up series, including “Julia Child & Company” and “Dinner With Julia,” and made guest appearances on ABC’s “Good Morning America” in the 1980s.

The oldest of three children, Ms. Child was born Julia Carolyn McWilliams in Pasadena, Calif. Her father was a wealthy farm consultant and investor and her mother stayed at home. She was raised in a house with cooks whose culinary skills she later described as mediocre.

Ms. Child graduated from Smith College in 1934. After a stint in public relations, she joined the Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency, and in 1943 was sent to do clerk work in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. There she met Paul Child, whom she married in 1946. Two years later, while living in Paris, Ms. Child enrolled in the renowned Cordon Bleu cooking school, and found her calling in French cooking.

Ms. Child’s husband died in 1994, and after 45 years of living in Cambridge, Mass., Ms. Child in 2001 moved to Santa Barbara.

She is survived by a sister, Dorothy Cousins; and nieces and nephews.