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Paul and Julia Child Marriage Profile

By

Julia Child

American chef Julia Child stands in front of a countertop, holding a whisk and a ladle by a mixing bowl, possibly on the set of her television series, 'The French Chef'. Circa 1965.

Photo: New York Times Co. / Getty Images
Standing in the background behind lovable television personality and chef Julia Child was her husband Paul who not only supported Julia's career, he worked alongside Julia. Paul and Julia were devoted to one another throughout their marriage.

Born:

Julia Carolyn McWilliams Child: August 15, 1912 in Pasadena, California.

Paul Cushing Child: January 15, 1902 in Montclair, New Jersey.

Died:

Julia: August 13, 2004 in Montecito near Santa Barbara, California at the age of 91 of kidney failure. Julia died in her sleep at her home just two days before her 92nd birthday.

Paul: May 12, 1994 at the age of 92 at the Fairlawn Nursing Home in Lexington, Massachusetts.

How Julia and Paul Met:

Paul and Julia met in the summer of 1944 while they were both stationed in Ceylon. Paul was 41 and Julia was 31.
"... during her time of service, she [Julia] met her husband. Paul Child was also an OSS officer. He was well traveled, and it was he who opened Julia’s eyes to appreciate fine French cuisine. The two married in September 1946."
Source: "A Look Back ... Julia Child: Life Before French Cuisine", CIA.gov
Tori Avey: "Paul was in search of “simpatico” himself, though he didn’t immediately see Julia that way. He saw her as a pal, someone he could enjoy a nice meal with. The two shared a love of exotic cuisine. They enjoyed spending time together. What began as a great friendship evolved into more. They eventually fell head-over-heels for each other."
Source: Tori Avey. "Brave, Curious, Bright and Fearless: A Tribute to Julia Child." PBS.org. 8/08/2012.
Julia: "We were based at a lovely old tea plantation, and I could look out my office window into Paul's office. I was still unformed. He was ten years older than me and worldly; he courted various other women there, but we slowly warmed up to each other."
Source: Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme. My Life in France. 2006. pg. 118.

Wedding Date:

A day before their wedding, Paul and Julia were in an automobile accident. Julia wrote that they were "a bit banged up." Paul and Julia were married on September 1, 1946 in Washington, D.C. They did not have a honeymoon.

Children:

Julia and Paul did not have any children.

Occupations:

Julia: Although Julia reportedly didn't cook until she married Paul when she was 34, she was an award winning chef, cooking expert, television personality, author (compare prices), advertising copywriter, and a civilian employee of Office of Strategic Services (OSS).

On August 14, 2008, the National Archives released previously classified 750,000 pages that identified a "vast spy network of military and civilian operatives ... [Julia] served in an international spy ring managed by the Office of Strategic Services, an early version of the CIA created in World War II by President Franklin Roosevelt."
Source: Brett J. Blackledge, Randy Herschaft. "Spy Tales: a TV chef, Oscar winner, JFK adviser." Boston.com. 8/14/2008.

Paul: Artist, cartographer, teacher, photographer, member of the diplomatic service, and poet. Paul was a gourmet and loved fine cuisine. He did photography and illustrations for Julia's books.

Residences:

When not traveling, Paul and Julia lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts and in La Pitchoune, a country house they built in Provence, France. The couple spent their winters in the Santa Barbara area for many years.

Their home in Cambridge at 103 Irving Street was built in 1889. The 6,000-square-foot "clapboard folk-Victorian" home has 3 floors, a finished basement, 5 bedrooms, 4 full baths, 2 half baths, a large dining room, family room, double parlor, and a kitchen with a breakfast area.

In 2001 Julia donated her house and office to Smith College when she moved to a progressive retirement community in Santa Barbara, California. Julia's kitchen, with high counters designed by Paul for her height, was given to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Quotes About the Marriage of Paul and Julia Child:

Julia: "But the first meal I ever cooked for Paul was a bit more ambitious: brains simmered in red wine! ... But the results, alas, were messy to look at and not very good to eat. In fact, the dinner was a disaster. Paul laughed it off, and we scrounged up something else that night."
Source: Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme. My Life in France. 2006. pg. 6.

Julia: "Valentine cards had become a tradition of ours, born of the fact that we could never get ourselves organized in time to send out Christmas cards."
Source: Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme. My Life in France. 2006. pg. 301.

Paul in 1967: "How fortunate we are at this moment in our lives! Each doing what he most wants, in a marvelously adapted place, close to each other, superbly fed and housed, with excellent health, and few interruptions."
Source: Marilyn Mellowes. "Julia Child." PBS.org

Julia about Paul: "Paul took letter writing seriously: he'd set aside time for it, tried to document our day-to-day lives in a journalistic way ..."
Source: Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme. My Life in France. 2006. pg. 8. Compare Prices

Marilyn Mellowes: "... Paul reveled in his wife's success ... He underwent a coronary bypass. During the surgery, he suffered several small strokes. The strokes had affected his brain. He completely lost his French and verbal fluency. "Whatever it is, I will do it," Paul had said. He had acted as her manager, served as her photographer, tested her recipes, proof-read her books, and was content to let the light shine on her, not on him. Now, the man that Julia had counted on for so much would need her support in his struggle to survive."
Source: Marilyn Mellowes. "Julia Child." PBS.org

Julia: "Paul married me in spite of my cooking."
Source: "TV's French chef taught us how to cook with panache." SFGate.com. 8/14/2004.

Laura Jacobs: "Though she called Paul a 'Cordon Bleu widower,' he wasn’t really. 'I would go to school in the morning,' she once said in an interview, 'then for lunch time, I would go home and make love to my husband.'”
Source: Laura Jacobs. "Our Lady of the Kitchen." VanityFair.com. 8/2009.

Laura Shapiro: "Her new career crashed like a meteor into the center of their marriage. New roles sprang up and grabbed them -- she the star and he the support staff -- but they were determined to maintain what Julia called “that lovely intertwining of life, mind, and soul that a good marriage is.” “We are a team,” she often said. “We do everything together ... Whenever she talked about her career, she said “we,” not “I,” and she meant it literally. Paul attended all business meetings and participated in all decisions, helped rework the recipes for television, hauled equipment, washed dishes, took photographs, created designs and graphics, peeled and chopped and stirred, ran errands, read the mail and helped answer it, wrote the dedications in all her books, accompanied her on publicity tours and speaking engagements, sat with her at book signings, took part in most of her press interviews, provided the wine expertise, baked baguette after baguette, and in general made a point of being at her side on all occasions, professional or social. When he wasn’t needed, he disappeared happily into his own world, painting and photographing and gardening ... Every morning they liked to snuggle in bed together for a half hour after the alarm went off, and at the end of the day, Paul would read aloud from the New Yorker while Julia made dinner. “We are never not together,” Paul said once, contentedly.”
Source: Laura Shapiro. "Just a Pinch of Prejudice." from Julia Child. BostonMagazine.com. 2007.

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