Cooking With M

From Julia Child’s New York Times’ obituary in 2004:

After World War II broke out, she signed up for intelligence work with the Office of Strategic Services, hoping to become a spy, but was sent off as a file clerk to Ceylon. There she met Paul Child, the head of a chart-making division who was 10 years older and several inches shorter. He was also an artist, a poet and a serious food lover who opened up her taste horizons on their travels in China.

From today’s Washington Post story about information in newly declassified records:

Before Julia Child became known to the world as a leading chef, she admitted at least one failing when applying for a job as a spy: impulsiveness.

At 28 as an advertising manager at W&J Sloane furniture store in Beverly Hills, Calif., Child clashed with new store managers and left her job abruptly.

"I made a tactical error and was out," she explained in a handwritten note attached to her application to join the Office of Strategic Services, a World War II-era spy agency. "However, I learned a lot about advertising and wish I had been older and more experienced so that I could have handled the situation, as it was a most interesting position."

Child was not yet married and was applying for the job under her maiden name, McWilliams, according to previously top-secret records released by the National Archives on Thursday. She was hired in the summer of 1942 for clerical work with the intelligence agency and later worked directly for OSS Director William Donovan, the personnel records show.

2 thoughts on “Cooking With M”

  1. And yet, there never seemed to be any rumors about Child’s wartime activities, At least to the same extent that we hear about Dr. Ruth, or Mr. Rogers, or Capt. Kangaroo or even John Denver (or many other celebrities perceived as harmless enough to require a makeshift shady past). Pretty neat.
    (And though Dr. Ruth’s most resilient rumor–about being a sniper in the Israeli army–is true, it doesn’t change the fact that the story is also widely rumored.)

  2. Child’s really fascinating. She was so SMART. And apaprently there may have been a lot more high profile spooks during this time period (of course, I can also kind of imagine a sitcom of wackiness with this concept, given some of the other schemes the CIA got up to during that period).
    I got to interview Dr. Ruth before BEA and she was WONDERFUL. She was warm and hilarious and I got to call her directly (unlike most celebrities).

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