Secret Agent Julia Child?
Service records of former OSS agents released by the National Archives include those of the famed TV chef
In the days before the CIA, the Office of Strategic Services was tasked with gathering intelligence in the World War II era. Many operatives of the secretive agency, and their activities, remained largely unknown until Aug. 14, 2008, when the National Archives released hundreds of thousands of pages from the personnel files of those who worked under the OSS director, Gen. William J. Donovan.
Among some of the well known OSS operatives whose files are now available for public scrutiny are Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg; Arthur Schlesinger, adviser to President Kennedy; film director John Ford; Kermit Roosevelt, son of President Theodore Roosevelt; Allen W. Dulles, director of Central Intelligence; and TV chef Julia Child.
Born August 15, 1912, in Pasadena, California, Julia Carolyn McWilliams worked in advertising before joining the OSS in 1942 in a clerical position at OSS Headquarters, where she typed thousands of names on index cards for the pre-computerized filing system of the Secret Intelligence division.
She helped the OSS Emergency Sea Rescue Equipment Section to develop a shark repellent for underwater bombs, to prevent them from being detonated prematurely before they could hit Nazi vessels.
In 1946, Julia McWilliams married fellow OSS agent Paul Cushing Child, with whom she had worked in Ceylon and China. The couple was later stationed in Paris, and Mrs. Child attended Le Cordon Bleu cooking school, where she learned the skills in French cuisine that would later make her famous on TV cooking shows and numerous books.
The Early days of the OSS and CIA are depicted in the movie The Good Shepherd, available in Q’s Quartermaster Shop.