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Paul Cushing Child (January 15, 1902 – May 12, 1994) was an American civil servant and diplomat known for being the husband of celebrity chef and author Julia Child.

Paul Cushing Child
Born(1902-01-15)January 15, 1902
DiedMay 12, 1994(1994-05-12) (aged 92)
OccupationCivil servant, diplomat
Julia McWilliams (m. 1946)

Early lifeEdit

Child was born in Montclair, New Jersey, on January 15, 1902, to Bertha Cushing and Charles Tripler Child.[1] When he and his twin brother Charles were six months old, their father died and their mother relocated them with her to her family's home in Boston. It was there that Child attended Boston Latin School. After taking an extension course at Columbia College he then became a teacher in France, Italy, and the United States, instructing students in various subjects including photography, English, and French. In 1941, while at Avon Old Farms School, he was a teacher and mentor to future poet John Gillespie Magee Jr. Child was a fourth degree black belt in judo as well as a judo instructor.[2][3][4]

Government service and marriageEdit

During World War II, Child joined the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). While stationed in Kandy, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), he met Julia McWilliams, who worked for the OSS as a file clerk. They married on September 1, 1946, in Lumberville, Pennsylvania,[5] and later moved to Washington, D.C. A lover of world cuisine, Child was known for his sophisticated palate.[6] After he finished his work with the OSS, Child joined the United States Foreign Service and introduced his wife to fine food. In 1948, the U.S. State Department assigned Child to be an exhibits officer with the United States Information Agency. While in Paris, his wife took up cooking and became a student at the famed Paris cooking school, Le Cordon Bleu.

After five years in Paris, Child was reassigned to Marseille, Bonn, and Oslo.

In April 1955, he was summoned from Bonn to undergo interrogation in Washington, D.C. While there, he was questioned about his political beliefs and the political beliefs of his co-workers. Specifically, he was questioned about Jane Foster, a friend of the Childs' during World War II. Feeling his privacy had been violated through the interrogation, Child's and his wife's opposition to the Senate investigations—spearheaded at that time by Senator Joseph McCarthy—was reinforced.[7]

Child retired from government service in 1961.

Later yearsEdit

Following his retirement, the Childs moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where his wife, Julia, wrote cookbooks and he took photographs to provide illustrations for them. Child was also known as a poet who frequently wrote about his wife; his prose was later celebrated in an authorized biography of her. In Appetite for Life, portions of the letters he wrote to his twin brother while the Childs lived abroad were included as an illustration of his love and admiration for his wife as well as her cooking skills and talent.[8]

Paul Child died at a nursing home in Lexington, Massachusetts, on May 12, 1994, following a long illness. His widow, Julia Child, died ten years later, on August 12, 2004.

Paul Child was portrayed by Stanley Tucci in the 2009 comedy-drama film Julie & Julia, which was adapted in part from Julia Child's memoir My Life in France.


  1. ^ A Party for Paul Child, Los Angeles Times
  2. ^ Saxon, Wolfgang (May 14, 1994). "Paul Child, Artist, Dies at 92". The New York Times. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
  3. ^ A Covert Affair, by Jennet Conant, page 14
  4. ^ Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child. By Bob Spitz. 2012, Dearie, Chapter 6: Paul
  5. ^ "Julia Child". Archived from the original on 2012-03-25.
  6. ^ Lindman, Sylvia (2004-08-13). "Julia Child: bon appétit: Celebrated cook taught America to relish life's bounty". Retrieved 2006-09-30.
  7. ^ Jennet Conant, A Covert Affair: Julia Child and Paul Child in the OSS (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011), esp. 12-23
  8. ^ Editorial reviews of "Appetite for Life" at