Person of the Week: Julia Child

Julia Child was irrepressible.

Hers was the mother of all cooking shows — literally. The French Chef went on the air in 1963, and gave birth to a whole new genre, both in television and in the kitchen.

With quotes such as "There's something so exciting as seeing a whole suckling pig!" and "Everyone loves ham and eggs! Bacon and eggs! Pork chops and eggs!," the highly educated woman bypassed the male world of master chefs — straight into living rooms and American hearts.

"I had a big copper bowl and a giant whisk and I beat some egg whites and people had never seen anything like that," Child told ABC News in a 2002 interview.

Rather odd and very lovable, she was serious and hilarious all at once. She never skimped on the French flavoring.

Said Child during a show: "You just put the whole garlic in there and go 'irk!' If you felt that it didn't have enough garlic, you can put some in now!"

A country that had been fed on frozen food was never the same.

Child's First Career

But cooking was Child's second career. The 6-foot-2 Child, née Julia McWilliams, was first employed by a spy agency during World War II.

"I applied to the WAVES, the Navy, and the Army, but standing at my full height, I was too tall, which was fine. So I was able to enter something I really wanted," she said during the interview.

Child joined the OSS (Office of Strategic Services), the precursor to the CIA. She was sent undercover to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) to work as a file clerk with top security clearance.

She fell in love with a fellow OSS employee, diplomat Paul Child. When he was posted to Paris, she studied at the famous Cordon Bleu cooking school.

She then brought French cooking to America and vigorously demystified it.

Said Child on her show: "No matter what way you're going to cook it, it should have a butter massage!"

No Fear of Diet Crazes

As for low-fat cooking, Child was too fearless for any diet craze.

"As soon as that fear of fat came on in the beginning of the 1980s, people began gaining weight and more and more weight," she told ABC News.

She always used cooking to demonstrate her delight in life. As she once said, with a twinkle: "If you're afraid of butter, just put in some cream."

"We can always relate to Julia this was because of her lack of pretentiousness, her down-to-earth approach to cooking," said friend and world-class chef Jacques Pepin.

At 90, Child saw her kitchen recreated at the Smithsonian Institution, where she was honored with — what else? — a banquet.

Said Child to an attendee, when asked about her magic formula for good living: "Well, you've got to eat good and drink well!"

ABC News' Bill Blakemore filed this report for World News Tonight.

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