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Julia Child Was a Lonely Virgin Until She Met Her Husband Paul at Age 31

March 31st, 2013 by

Julia Child Was a virgin when she met her husband Paul at age 31

Julia Carolyn McWilliams, known around the world as Julia Child, was a beloved wife, chef, author, Emmy award winning television personality and research operative within an international spy ring.

Quotes about waiting and marriage…

Julia on Paul…

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.

Julia Child

Paul (her husband) on Julia…

A classy dame, brave about being an old maid! — Paul Child

Without Julia, I think I’d be a sour old bastard living off in a cave. — Paul Child

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. — Paul Child

We are never not together. — Paul Child

Julia on their marriage…

We are a team. — Julia Child

We had a happy marriage because we were together all the time. We were friends as well as husband and wife. We just had a good time. — Julia Child

I would go to school in the morning, then for lunch time, I would go home and make love to my husband. — Julia Child

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. — Julia Child


Interesting facts about Julia…


 Julia faced the same challenges and stereotypes as today’s virgins and waiters…

Although she met her husband Paul in the early 1940’s, he was at first reluctant to pursue her because of her virginity.

Paul’s letters pegged Julia as a “grown-up little girl … trying to be brave about being an old maid.” He liked her “pleasantly crazy sense of humor” but was put off by her virginity. — USA Today

And even considered her unworldly and naïve.

Paul thought Julia unworldly, unfocused, and doubtless a virgin—”a hungry hayseed” is how she would describe herself—but also steady, game, a “classy dame,” and “brave, about being an old maid!” — Vanity Fair

Yet like many waiters today, that was a misconception. Julia had gone on dates, had “crushes” and had even been proposed to in 1941. She also worked and traveled as a top secret research operative for the Office of Strategic Services where she earned the Emblem of Meritorious Civilian Service.


 What can we learn from Julia’s life?

Many waiters as they reach their late 20s and 30s can become discouraged, feeling like they are racing against time or are late to the game of life. Julia shows us that this is indeed not the case. It is never too late to discover new goals, change careers, or meet the love of your life. Not everyone meets “the One” in their 20’s and that’s okay. What is important is to stay true to yourself and always remember that it will be worth it in the end.

…nothing is too much trouble if it turns out the way it should.

Julia Child, My Life in France

Mini Biography

Born: August 15, 1912 to John McWilliams, Jr., a Princeton University graduate and prominent land manager, and his wife, the former Julia Carolyn (“Caro”) Weston, a paper-company heiress.

Childhood: “She could throw a softball overhand, as hard and fast as any boy,” according to her friends. She grew to be a tomboy who liked to compete in sports, where she excelled because she was taller and stronger than anyone else.

She also liked  theater because she was a ham. In school plays she was always cast as the man or an animal and never the princess. In her diary, though, Julia wrote that she felt  she was “meant for something.”

Age 22: Graduates from Smith College with a major in English. Moves to New York City. Works as a copywriter for the advertising department of upscale home-furnishing firm W. & J. Sloane.

Age 25 – 29: Returns to California when her mother falls ill. Keeps the house for her father, plays a great deal of golf, writes for local publications, works in advertising, and volunteers with the Junior League of Pasadena.

Age 29 – 31: Joins the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) after finding that she was too tall to enlist in the Women’s Army Corps (WACs) or in the U.S. Navy’s WAVES.

Begins her OSS career as a typist at its headquarters in Washington, but because of her education and experience soon was promoted to a top secret researcher working directly for the head of OSS, General William J. Donovan.

Age 31: Posted to Kandy, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), where she worked on a great volume of highly classified communications for the OSS’s clandestine stations in Asia. Here, she would meet her future husband, Paul Child.

Age 34: Marries Paul Child on September 1st, 1946.

Age 36: The couple moves to Paris when the US State Department assigned Paul there as an exhibits officer with the United States Information Agency.

In Paris, Julia attends the famous Le Cordon Bleu cooking school and later studies privately with Max Bugnard and other master chefs.

Joins the women’s cooking club Cercle des Gourmettes, through which she meets Simone Beck, who was writing a French cookbook for Americans with her friend Louisette Bertholle. Beck proposed that Child work with them, to make the book appeal to Americans.

Age 39: Child, Beck, and Bertholle begin to teach cooking to American women in Child’s Paris kitchen, calling their informal school L’école des trois gourmandes (The School of the Three Food Lovers).

Age 39-49: The Childs moves around Europe and finally settle in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They would continually research, test and translate new recipes.

Age 49: The 726-page Mastering the Art of French Cooking, after being  first published by Alfred A. Knopf, becomes a best-seller and receives critical acclaim.

Appears on I’ve Been Reading, an interview program on WGBH. Paul, who had retired from government service in 1961, was now Julia’s full-time, if unofficial, manager, and they arrived for the 30-minute show armed with a copper bowl, a dozen eggs, mushrooms, a whisk, and a hot plate.

Age 50: A 1962 appearance on a book review show on the National Educational Television (NET) station of Boston, WGBH, led to the inception of her first television cooking show after viewers enjoyed her demonstration of how to cook an omelette.

Age 51: The Childs builds a home near the Provence town of Plascassier in the hills above Cannes on property belonging to co-author Simone Beck and her husband, Jean Fischbacher. The Childs would name it “La Pitchoune”, a Provençal word meaning “the little one” but over time the property was often affectionately referred to simply as “La Peetch”.

The French Chef debuts on February 11, 1963, on WGBH and was immediately successful. The show ran nationally for ten years and won Peabody and Emmy Awards, including the first Emmy award for an educational program. The program aired until 1973.

Age 59: Publishes Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two, again in collaboration with Simone Beck. Child’s fourth book, From Julia Child’s Kitchen, was illustrated with her husband’s photographs and documented the color series of The French Chef, as well as providing an extensive library of kitchen notes compiled by Child during the course of the show.

Age 60: The French Chef becomes the first television program to be captioned for the deaf, albeit in the preliminary technology of open captioning.

Age 66: Saturday Night Live presents a Grand Guignol spoof of The French Chef, co-written by Al Franken and starring Dan Aykroyd as Julia, who slices off her thumb while making poularde demi-désossée, bleeds copiously, and then passes out crying, “Save the liver.” The skit is still aired today and still funny, a testament to Julia’s continuing stature in the culture. Julia loves the skit so much that she kept a videotape of it under the television in her kitchen.

1970s to 1980s: Stars in numerous television programs, including Julia Child & Company, Julia Child & More Company and Dinner at Julia’s.

Age 81: Julia loses Paul Child who is 92 at that time.

Age 89: Donates her house and office to Smith College upon moving to a retirement community in Santa Barbara, California. Her entire kitchen was relocated from her house in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to the first floor of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, in Washington, D.C.

Age 91: Julia succumbs to death two days short of her birthday. In the last year of her life she suffered knee surgeries, kidney failure, and a stroke. On August 12, when her doctor called to say she had an infection and would need to be hospitalized, she chose not to be treated. The meal that turned out to be her last, before she went to sleep and never woke up, was Mastering’s recipe for French onion soup.

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.”



  1. Julia Child Wikipedia Page
  2. Julia Child’s autobiography: My Life in France
  3. Julia Child’s OSS government record (pdf file – long loading time)
  4. Julia Child’s biography on Vanity Fair
  5. Yahoo Voices page – Julia Child Trivia
  6. – Paul and Julia Child Marriage Profile
  7. Smithsonian magazine article about Julia Child
  8. Kansas City’s The Pitch highlights Julia Child’s life

17 Responses to “Julia Child Was a Lonely Virgin Until She Met Her Husband Paul at Age 31”

  1. markb4 says:

    Wow, I never knew that about Julia Child! Great work!

    Fun fact about her: She acted in one film…and it was an animated film, so it was a voice acting role, rather than an acting role. The film was “We’re Back: A Dinosaur’s Story”. What a weird choice of a voice actress!

  2. Sally says:

    Thanks for including this! I saw the movie Julie & Julia and so this is interesting to hear about as well :)

  3. Sophie says:

    Wow, even in the 40s waiting was an issue! But good for Julia!

  4. Victoria says:

    Considering the fact that I just turned 31 yesterday, this is a very timely and appreciated article.

  5. 17Soul says:

    Amazing and inspiring woman

  6. Anonymous says:

    This is so messed up. You guys treat it like it’s some sort of competition, and you seem to shame those that don’t make it to the finish line (altar) with their v-card.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Who cares how old she was when she lost it? There are lots of people that waited, their age should matter. You wait as long as your supposed to until you meet who you really want to marry. Jonathan Jackson waited, Avril Lavigne waited, Mariah Carey waited, Lisa Kudrow waited, Patricia Heaton waited. You wait until your married, but if you fuss about the age, you lost the perspective on why your supposed to wait. Age has nothing to do with it, and when you focus on the age, there are some people that literally throw themselves away on someone because they based it on their age or their social settings, not true love. This website needs to grow up a little bit more.

  8. Cat Solis says:

    Bonyor i love u julia & all ur cook books because ov u I’m a splendid cook & thay always say the way 2 a mans heart is thru his stomach. Ant that the truth. Bonapatit so all those struggling cooks out there hang in there & live love & eat.all ov her wonderful creationsi do. Bonapatit

  9. Deborah says:

    I just watched Julia & Julia once again, loved the movie and loved learning more about her. Thanks for putting this out there!

  10. […] Julia Child Was a Lonely Virgin Until She Met Her … – Julia Child Was a Lonely Virgin Until She Met Her Husband Paul at Age 31 March 31st, 2013 by Community. Julia Carolyn McWilliams, known around the world as …… […]

  11. man crush monday says:

    Great stuff from you, man. Ive read your stuff before and youre just too awesome. I love what youve got here, love what youre saying and the way you say it. You make it entertaining and you still manage to keep it smart. I cant wait to read more from you. This is really a great blog.

  12. Looking Up says:

    I’m curious to know if you read the entirety of the USA Today and Vanity Fair articles. Both of them report that Paul and she had at least one, purposeful sexual experience prior to marriage. In fact the USA Today article makes it sound like Paul’s purpose was educational more than relational.

  13. Bonnie says:

    Wasn’t she a virgin until age 34 when they married? Or did they consummate their relationship prior to marriage?

  14. Alice says:

    What if this was written without the lonly virgin portrayal

  15. Marielle says:

    The Movie Juile & Julia is the best I can see it over and ove again. The movie obviously cant come close to the life inte IRL. But I am hooked I wisch I could have meat her anf learned from her about cooking and the love for it.
    Streep is doing tis role so amzinglly good.

  16. wishing says:

    Wishing I had waited

  17. Ann says:

    Me, too. :(

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