Julia Child, Secret Agent


Super-chef Julia Child, who massively helped to cosmopolitanize American culture by introducing European cuisine in a non-threatening way via her TV shows and cookbooks, was a spy for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA.

Details about Child's background as a government agent come into the public spotlight Thursday with the National Archives' release of more than 35,000 top-secret personnel files of World War II-era spies. The CIA held this information for decades.

The 750,000 documents identify the vast spy network managed by the Office of Strategic Services, which later became the CIA. President Franklin Roosevelt created the OSS, the country's first centralized intelligence operation.

Child's file shows that in her OSS application, she included a note expressing regret she left an earlier department store job hastily because she did not get along with her boss, said William Cunliffe, an archivist who has worked extensively with the OSS records at the National Archives.

The OSS files offer details about other agents, including Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, major league catcher Moe Berg, historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and film actor Sterling Hayden.

Other notables identified in the files include John Hemingway, son of author Ernest Hemingway; Kermit Roosevelt, son of President Theodore Roosevelt; and Miles Copeland, father of Stewart Copeland, drummer for the band The Police.

A number of these folks had already been identified as operatives, but their personnel files are now available, due to actions taken in the early 1980s by former CIA director William Casey. The main takeaway, according to the AP: That the OSS was far more extensive than previously thought, with  something on the order of 24,000 employees, almost double the previous estimates of 13,000.

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