While Sal Mineo went down in history as one of Hollywood’s most talented heartthrobs, it could almost be said that Hollywood came too easily to the out-of-control man. His looks and talent quickly got him noticed, and his roles in films like Rebel Without a Cause catapulted him to stardom at an early age. But was it too much too fast? You may know the basics about this Hollywood icon, but here are 20 facts you probably don’t know.
Sal was an American heartthrob. But just where in America was he from? While most people think Sal was from Harlem, there are conflicting reports that Sal was actually born in the Bronx. Either way, Sal was New York’s golden boy.
Sal wasn’t exactly the best behaved son, as his mother was often concerned by his involvement in questionable activities. It wasn’t until his mom was approached by a talent scout and encouraged to appeal to his creative side that Sal calmed down.
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Sal went from running with rough crowds to regularly taking acting and dancing classes after school. And not just any classes. Sal attended the well-known Professional Children’s Theatre. His childhood teachers would later go on to describe him as a standout kid.
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The kid had talent, and casting directors took notice. That’s how Sal managed to make his Broadway debut at just eleven years old. He did so in Tennessee William’s acclaimed play The Rose Tattoo, kick-starting what would eventually become an incredibly successful — albeit short — career.
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After his Broadway debut, Sal moved on to appear in the musical The King and I opposite Yul Brenner. This booking ended up being incredibly valuable for Sal. Brynner took him under his wing and mentored him on both the craft and the industry.
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Sal’s popularity only grew from there. A few years later, Sal was appearing on widely popular programs like Juke Box Jury, a musical quiz show that helped him gain status and exposure. He continued to make several of these bit appearances before his big-screen debut.
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Clint Eastwood is probably still upset about this one. Sal beat him out for a coveted role in Joseph Pevney’s Six Bridges to Cross. This film was his first and was met with widespread critical praise. It was official: Sal was on his way.
Sal’s breakthrough role came just two years later in the classic film Rebel Without a Cause. In it, he played John “Plato” Crawford, a young man who feels a strong attraction to the main character, Jim Stark. Sal’s performance earned him his first Oscar nod.
Rebel Without a Cause
Unfortunately, while he didn’t win the Academy Award, the film did catapult Sal into stardom. His popularity increased seemingly overnight and he became one of Hollywood’s most in-demand young actors — not to mention, a total ladies man.
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There was no turning back now and Sal had to quickly get used to a new life — a faster life full of female fans, to be precise. He was so popular with girls that he was often mobbed at public appearances.
Sal’s status with the ladies had changed and he knew it, and he seemed to love it, too. Sal’s biographer recounted that the young star dated the most beautiful women in both Hollywood and New York City.
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Like many actors in Hollywood, Sal struggled with typecasting. He was getting older but he was still being cast as a troubled teenage boy. This was often frustrating for Sal, who wanted more serious and creatively challenging roles.
By the end of the 1950s, Sal was a huge star. Having starred in major blockbusters like Crime in the Streets, he was considered one of the most popular movie stars on the planet. He pretty much had the world in the palm of his hands.
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Wanting a change in his career, Sal forayed into pop music. He recorded a handful of songs and an album. Two of his singles actually reached the Top 40 on Billboard’s Hot 100. The more popular of the two hit number 9 on the charts.
Even after his musical foray, Sal was still being typecast as the teenage heartthrob. He desperately tried to break away with roles as a Native American man, a Mexican boy, and a Jewish Holocaust survivor in Exodus. This film eventually won him a well-earned Golden Globe.
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It seems that stardom left Sal as quickly as it had found him. By the early 1960s, Sal was too old to play his typical roles and Hollywood didn’t know what to do with him. Sadly, he saw a sharp decrease in movie offers during this time.
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Sal’s career was in a tricky spot and he needed a distraction. So, he modeled for Harold Stevenson’s nude painting The New Adam, which still hangs in the Guggenheim today. The work was praised by critics and remains part of the museum’s permanent collection.
The King and I
The rest of the decade wasn’t much better for his career. He went from being typecast as a teenager to typecast as a deranged killer — something Sal always regretted. Though his work was receiving positive reviews, he was once again stuck.
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There’s been a lot of speculation about Sal’s relationship with Jill Haworth. While some consider their relationship to have been genuine, others believe she was just a “beard” for Sal. Whatever the truth may be, it is clear that these two cared for each other deeply.
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On February 12, 1976, Sal’s life was tragically cut short. He was stabbed in the heart after a rehearsal for P.S. Your Cat is Dead. His killer wasn’t found until 1979. Sal is buried in Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York. Fans have since wondered if the stars of Rebel Without a Cause were somehow cursed.
You wouldn’t be surprised if someone told you the kid in this photo would grow up to take Hollywood by storm. Even at such a young age, James Dean had the confidence needed to become a huge star. But self-assurance alone didn’t bring him to the top.
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Dean’s tragically short-but-important story began in Marion, Indiana, on February 8, 1931. He moved to Los Angeles, California, briefly, but then returned to his aunt and uncle’s farm in Indiana after his mother died of cancer.
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Dean remained on the farm until he was 18 years old. While in Indiana, Dean helped out with the massive workload and lived a relatively normal life until he met a pastor named James DeWeerd.
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The two men grew close, with DeWeerd taking the boy under his wing as somewhat of a father figure. Many years later, there were rumors that Dean was sexually abused by DeWeerd, which had a huge impact.
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Whatever the nature of Dean and DeWeerd’s relationship was, the young man continued life as usual throughout all of high school. It was after graduation when Dean moved back to California in pursuit of an acting career.
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As with nearly everyone who ventures out to Hollywood in search of fame, it was a struggle landing gigs at first. But, Dean soon found himself in front of the cameras in a Pepsi commercial, and people took notice.
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After a slew of bigger gigs, he started landing lead roles in feature films, with his best known performance in Rebel Without a Cause. But, before that, he was even nominated for a leading role Oscar in East of Eden.
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Dean was only 24 at the time all this success was quickly unfolding, and he felt on top of the world. However, everything came to a tragic halt after a fatal car accident on September 30, 1955.
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The up-and-coming actor slammed his Porsche into a Ford Tudor, killing him instantly. He was remembered fondly by everyone he’d worked with; it wasn’t until his passing, however, that details about his personal life started coming to light.
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As mourners remembered Dean as a guy who could land any girl he wanted, a deeper dive into his complicated web of relationships gave way to a slew of controversial rumors about the young actor’s life.
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Even though Dean received plenty of attention for his high-profile relationships with attractive female actresses, many people who worked with him actually claimed he was struggling to come to terms with his sexuality.
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During a time when men feared coming out as gay, Dean tried to keep things under wraps, but many of those close to him had plenty to say about his sexual preferences, including a director he worked closely with.
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The director of East of Eden, Elia Kazan, said in one interview, “He always had uncertain relations with girlfriends.” But, a director named Jim Sheldon went into even more detail about Dean’s personal love life.
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Sheldon was interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter in 2016, and he claimed he got Dean his first acting gigs to break him into the industry. He also stated he knew for a fact Dean was sexually active with men.
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Sheldon himself claimed he didn’t sleep with Dean, but he knew men “who did. [He] know one guy in particular who [he] introduced him to who gave Jimmy a couple of jobs and [he] knows that they had sex.”
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According to the 2016 book James Dean: Tomorrow Never Comes, Hollywood icon Marlon Brando and Dean had a fling. “I got the impression that Jimmy was engaged in a cat-and-mouse affair with Brando,” said one of Dean’s close friends.
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One man Dean did share a public kiss with was Rock Hudson, who was also coming to terms with homosexuality. Dean bizarrely forced himself upon Hudson on the Giant movie set, but people claimed it was more of an antagonistic action.
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One of Dean’s close friends, an actor named Mark Rydell, said, “I don’t think he was essentially homosexual. I think that he had very big appetites, and I think he exercised them.” Dean was asked about this.
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When Dean was flat-out asked if he was gay or not, he replied, “No, I’m not homosexual. But I’m not going to go through life with one hand tied behind my back.” Some would say it was an obviously ambiguous statement.
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James Dean explored various avenues of relationships, though he wasn’t alone in the Hollywood scene. Rock Hudson, his Giant co-star, faced a similar struggle throughout his career.
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1. One of the most emotionally draining secrets Hudson hid throughout his career was that he was actually gay. He was petrified that if the information got out, people would despise him for his orientation and for lying to them.
2. Hudson had an atrocious relationship with his father growing up. When he told his father he wanted to act, he was hit. According to one biographer, “He learned you could talk about anything — except what you truly felt.”
3. The Great Depression hit Hudson’s family like a truck, and it caused his already abusive father to grow even more irate with his loved ones. So much so, that he up and left the family before Hudson was four.
4. After a magazine threatened to expose Hudson as a homosexual, he quickly married his talent scout’s secretary to throw off the scent. The relationship only lasted three years, and they were all quite tumultuous.
5. Throughout his life, Hudson took on many lovers. One of his longest relationships was with a man named Tom Clark who was his live-in publicist. But, rumor has it he also spent a night with Marlon Brando.
6. It was the year 1954 that Hudson really caught the eyes of, well, the entire world. The film Magnificent Obsession let everyone know his beautiful features and gentle demeanor were here to stay.
7. When Hollywood writer Sidney Skolsky invented the word “beefcake” to describe an overly handsome man, Hudson was on his mind. But Rock’s look, believe it or not, was not all natural.
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8. A Lot of celebs undergo some pretty intense plastic surgery to stay looking young and gorgeous, and Hudson was no different. He had most of his teeth capped to enhance his smile and reportedly surgically lowered his voice!
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9. The 1956 film Giant was hands down Hudson’s most famous movie. He starred alongside Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean, who, tragically, was killed in an automobile accident before shooting even wrapped.
10. Hudson’s relationship with James Dean during Giant was a nightmare. At one point, Dean’s hatred of Hudson keeping his sexuality a secret came to a head, and he actually tackled Hudson and forcibly French-kissed him.
11. While on the set of Giant, Hudson and Taylor grew very close, and they were reportedly drinking buddies. The two would knock back chocolate vodka martinis from sun up to sun down.
12. For a brief period of his life, Hudson served in the Navy, and while he was there he may have fathered a child. In 2014, a woman named Susan Dent made the claim she was his long-lost daughter.
13. Even though Hudson cemented himself as quite the heartthrob, he wasn’t always that way. Growing up, people always knew him as being super shy and reserved, and even referred to him as “a pathologically shy man.”
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14. While many people give up on their dreams after a certain amount of disappointment, Hudson never stopped the grind, and after sending his chiseled glamour shots all around Hollywood, a scout named Henry Willson picked him up.
15. Rock Hudson might sound like a cool name to many, but he actually despised it. It was forced upon him by his ruthless talent scout, Henry Willson, and he was too nervous to ever speak up. His real name was Roy Harold Scherer, Jr.
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16. One of the biggest problems Hudson had was the inability to memorize lines, and it often caused stress on set. On his very first film, Fighter Squadron, it took him 38 takes to deliver his only line.
17. In 1984, a strange irritation on his neck brought him into see a doctor, and he was given devastating news. The irritation was actually a cancerous lesion known as Kaposi’s sarcoma. This meant Hudson contracted AIDS.
18. One of the hardest things Hudson ever had to do after being given news of his AIDS was write four very grim letters to all of the men he recently had sexual encounters with.
19. The very last time Hudson’s great friend and frequent co-star Doris Day saw him was in 1985 on the set of her show Doris Day’s Best Friends. But, AIDS had destroyed his physical self, and he was emaciated and pale.
Cookie cutter wouldn’t even begin to describe Doris Day’s reputation. The All American girl, a blonde haired, blue eyed non-threatening beauty, was born April 3, 1922, to a choirmaster father and a homemaker mother. But she had bigger dreams for herself.
Her dream was to make it as a dancer. In her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, little Doris made a name for herself as part of a dance duo with her partner Jerry Doherty. But before she could break out of her home town, an accident halted her plans.
Her dreams were dashed before she ever had the chance to sashay across the stage. While cruising with friends, their car was struck twice by a train. Somehow escaping with her life, Doris suffered a lasting leg injury that snuffed out any dancing hopes.
While in the hospital, Doris filled the dreary days confined to a bed singing along to the radio while waiting for her leg to mend. Turning what should’ve been a sad time into a period of beauty, she realized her pipes weren’t too shabby.
So, a 15-year-old Doris trudged onto the next thing: she joined the ranks of Barney Rapp’s band. While crooning in Cincinnati, Doris met a man that tried his utmost to win her heart.
Several years later, in 1941, Doris tied the knot to a fellow musician, trombonist Al Jorden. Their marriage wasn’t as harmonious as the music they made. Two days after marrying, Jorden began physically abusing his wife, even during her pregnancy.
Doris explained in her biography, “What had represented to me as love emerged as jealousy — pathologic jealousy.” The marriage ended after two years, and Doris, now a mother to her only child Terry, emerged post-divorce ready to break into the entertainment business.
Following her divorce, Doris started singing with a new band, helmed by Les Brown. Soon after, she scored the first massive hit that launched her into the spotlight. The song that captured the hearts of homesick soldiers was her first hit, “Sentimental Journey” 1945.
From then on, her star continued to rise. While serenading a party full of well-connected Hollywood types, Doris’s hypnotizing rendition of “Embraceable You” made songwriter Jule Styne take notice. He invited Doris in for a screen test for a new film, Romance on the High Seas. Doris snagged the role.
The Blonde at the Film
But acting had never been on Doris’ radar. She confessed to the film’s director, Michael Curtiz, her total lack of experience. He appreciated her honesty. Still, Doris proved a capable actress, and her voice lent the film a smash hit with the song “It’s Magic.”
The Blonde At The FIlm
Now with a number of chart-topping hits, Doris received tons of film and musical offers. In a span of 5 years, she appeared in 13 films, carried several Oscar-nominated songs, and collectively won the hearts of Americans across the country.
Meanwhile, while her star rose, Doris gave love a chance once more, marrying film producer Martin Melcher. The two jointly formed Arwin Productions in 1952, which pumped out Doris Day films.
It wasn’t until 1953 that Doris put on her famed fringe jacket in her most well-known film. Playing, the western heroine Calamity Jane, Doris sealed her future as a Hollywood legend. Even her co-stars thought the world of her.
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For instance, her costar for her first dramatic role in the film Love Me Or Leave Me, James Cagney characterized Doris as “the epitome of guilelessness.” Something about her was just likable, easy, and ultimately innocent. Other stars noticed this, too.
Sparring opposite the most well regarded leading men in the Golden Age of Hollywood — Cary Grant, James Garner, Clarke Gable — Doris Day beamed as spirited, captivating star. Of all her onscreen beaus, her favorite was always Rock Hudson, who described their undeniable chemistry.
“The two people have to truly like each other, as Doris and I did,” Rock said,” for that shines through, the sparkle, the twinkle in the eye as the two people look at each other.” Together the lifelong friends made 3 films and remained close until Rock’s life was sadly cut short.
By the late ’60s, Doris’ particular brand of naivete had started to ebb into old fashion. Films were exploring grittier female characters, and Doris Day’s movies remained firmly in the PG territory. Worse, in 1968, a personal tragedy added to her already growing troubles.
Her husband, movie producer Martin Melcher suddenly died. As practicing Christian Scientists, the couple didn’t visit medical professionals, and Martin succumbed to an enlarged heart. The nightmare didn’t end there, though.
Soon after his death, Doris was gutted to learn Martin and their lawyer Jerome Rosenthal had taken serious liberties with her finances. Unbeknownst to the actress, most of her earnings from film successes had been blown, leaving her buried in debt.
Worse yet, her late husband had done something Doris had always fiercely resisted; he’d signed her on to make a TV sitcom. No finagling could get her out of the deal, so, in the most Doris Day way, she made lemonade out of lemons.
Michael’s TV Tray
For 5 years, The Doris Day Show ran on CBS. As a trade-off for committing to a sitcom, Doris ensured full creative control of the program bearing her name — and this led to interesting opportunities.
Each episode opened with Doris singing the optimistic tune “Que Sera, Sera,” which set the tone for the “throw away the handbook” mentality seen in the dramatic changes in cast and plot from season to season.
After the show ended, Doris retreated from the spotlight. The exception was her shortlived talk show, Doris Day’s Best Friends. One episode featured her dear friend Rock Hudson in one of his final onscreen appearances before succumbing to AIDS in October of 1985.
In the same year, right as she grieved the loss one of her longest beloved friends, Doris’ talk show collapsed. Naturally, rather than dwell on her misfortunes, Doris examined her life and made a formative change.
Action News Jax
It was curtains on showbiz. Drawing on her past, when she founded the organization Actors and Others for Animals back in 1971, she refocused on animals. Her new life’s work became her two official nonprofits: the Doris Day Animal Foundation, and the citizen lobbying organization the Doris Day Animal League.
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Doris’ chin-up spirit in response to unforeseen and often out of her control circumstances wasn’t limited to her film persona. When one thing went wrong, she dusted herself off and moved onto the next hurdle, a quality she prided herself on.
“I always said I was like those round-bottomed circus dolls,” she said. “You know, those dolls you could push down and they’d come back up? I’ve always been like that. I’ve always said, ‘No matter what happens, if I get pushed down, I’m going to come right back up.”
It’s easy to lump Doris Day into the mold of “All American” wide-eyed innocent, but really she was a woman of resolve. And this isn’t so uncommon. Usually, the most composed people are more complicated than they let on, just like the cookie cutter visage of TV Chef Julia Child.
Before she became a household name, Julia Child was called Julia McWilliams. Back then, her grand ambitions simmered like a beautiful bouillabaisse, yet they had absolutely nothing to do with food. Suggesting a career as a chef to a tenacious young Julia would have resulted in a dismissive snort.
From high school, Julia, a bright pupil, went straight to Smith College, the largest of the prestigious Seven Sisters women’s colleges. There, she studied history and was an active member of the Student Council and a competitor on the basketball court. But things were about to change for her — and for the nation.
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Right when the tumult of World War II was growing, Julia heard the call to fight for her country. She decided to join the military, and her branches of choice were the Women’s Army Corps or the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services. However, her dream to serve came to a halt fairly fast.
Julia exceeded the height requirements, as she stood at 6′ 2″. In fact, Julia’s particular reason for rejection from the armed services inspired a song. Acapella group The Bobs penned their song “Julia’s Too Tall” about culinary master’s life. As the lyrics tell it, “She’s too tall to be a spy, but not too tall to bake a pie…”
Julia didn’t dwell on the military denial for long. She took her talents elsewhere by volunteering for the Office of Strategic Services, the OSS for short. Sitting down with the future famed chef, they recognized her potential, documenting in her interview notes, “Good impression, pleasant, alert, capable, very tall.”
The OSS was a brand new organization, the predecessor to the Central Intelligence Agency. Julia was in the thick of it all during the formative years of the lofty organization and saw a wide variety of sensitive projects throughout her tenure.
Among the 4,500 women who served in the OSS, Julia held a particularly important role. Working at the headquarters in Washington DC, her job reported directly to General William J. Donovan, the man appointed by FDR to head the OSS.
United States Army Special Operations Command
Every day Julia would sit at her OSS Headquarters desk, clacking away at a typewriter. Her job, a research assistant for the division of Secret Intelligence, involved keeping track of the thousands of names of each member of the armed services.
At first, she was riding an undeniably boring desk job. However, after months of monotony, higher-ups took notice of Julia’s sharp mind. Thrilled to escaped her typist work, she climbed the ranks of various departments, working with top officials.
Transferred from her first role, Julia moved on to the Emergency Sea Rescue Equipment Section, or ERE, where she was set with a particularly specific request. During WWII, besides having to cope with the harrowing realities of war, soldiers on the seas were facing a more ferocious predator who didn’t discriminate in its attacks.
While navigating salty waters on military missions, Naval Officers were vulnerable to sharks. As more soldiers flocked to the shark-infested waters, the problem became too gruesome to ignore. In fact, there were over 20 documented cases of military men attacked by the ocean’s gnarliest meat-eaters in less than 18 months.
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Sharks threatened the safety of individual sailors but also had the potential to sink larger military missions. The curious creatures would occasionally swim head-on into explosives intended for German U-boats, resulting in a huge waste of time, money, and sea life.
Joint Chiefs of Staff, frustrated by this unforeseen complication, wanted to nip it in the bud as quickly as possible. There were, figuratively, bigger fish to fry. So, they tasked the Office of Strategic Services with developing a strategy to solve the shark situation.
So, just a month after the agency’s inception, the OSS started a project worthy of Adam West’s Batman — shark repellent. The ERE, lead by Dr. Henry Field of the Field Museum of Natural History, and from the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, Captain Harold J. Coolidge, began trial-and-error testing various lethal poisons.
Julia worked directly with Coolidge as his Executive Assistant while they tested their anti-shark recipes. Unfortunately, her hands were not yet trained in the culinary arts, so Julia couldn’t offer ingredient suggestions. Though, admittedly, Julia’s additions would probably involve clarified butter and squeeze of lemon.
In a book penned by fellow OSS Officer Betty McIntosh, Julia reflected on the project, “I must say we had lots of fun. We designed rescue kits and other agent paraphernalia. I understand the shark repellent we developed is being used today for downed space equipment — strapped around it so the sharks won’t attack when it lands in the ocean.”
Eventually, they settled on a mixture of copper acetate and black dye. Formed into a noxious little cake, it was released into waters and emitted a powerful odor of dead shark.
When the shark project finished, Julia was promoted yet again, this time to Chief of the OSS Registry. She packed her suitcase and set off for Ceylon, now known as Sri Lanka. Eventually, she was restationed in Kunming, China, where she’d been given the top level of security clearance and oversaw every bit of intelligence in her department.
Asked about her duties, Julia downplayed her position, saying she was merely a clerk. Her husband, Paul Child, set the record straight. Julia was responsible for highly classified documents, including the orders of the invasion of the Malay Peninsula.
Of course, the details were hush-hush, but Paul had a good idea of Julia’s duties because he too was an OSS Officer. The couple met during Julia’s two-year stint as Chief of Registry. In her off hours from overseeing top-secret communications, Julia was falling in love with both her future husband and his passion for fine French cuisine.
Food and Wine
Yep, it was through her husband that Julia discovered her fascination with cookery and food. By her own admission, she was a disaster in the kitchen up until that point. Growing up, her family had a cook prepare their meals, so she didn’t fall for food by watching her parents mill about the kitchen.
The lovebirds were married in 1946. Two years later, Paul was reassigned to the U.S. Information Agency in France, so they relocated to the hub of fine dining. It was then, that Julia buttoned her chef’s coat and began the journey to becoming one of the culinary world’s most cherished icons.