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Happy birthday, Julia Child!

By Emily Smith, CNN
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
For the 100th anniversary of her birth, in 2012 the museum temporarily unwrapped a new space dedicated to the beloved television chef, which includes the kitchen from her Cambridge, Massachusetts home. For the 100th anniversary of her birth, in 2012 the museum temporarily unwrapped a new space dedicated to the beloved television chef, which includes the kitchen from her Cambridge, Massachusetts home.
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Julia Child's kitchen at the Smithsonian
Julia Child's kitchen at the Smithsonian
Julia Child's kitchen at the Smithsonian
Julia Child's kitchen at the Smithsonian
Julia Child's kitchen at the Smithsonian
Julia Child's kitchen at the Smithsonian
Julia Child's kitchen at the Smithsonian
Julia Child's kitchen at the Smithsonian
Julia Child's kitchen at the Smithsonian
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Julia Child was born in 1912 and was a giant on the food world
  • Child passed away in 2004, but her legacy lives on

(CNN) -- Today would have been Julia Child's 102nd birthday, and Eatocracy is celebrating her legacy. Here are some lesser-known facts about the beloved TV chef and cookbook author.

- At 6 feet, 2 inches tall, Julia was no stranger to standing out. But her height wasn't always welcomed. Child moved from California to Washington D.C. at the start of World War II to join the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). She'd previously been rejected for active duty by the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service and the Women's Army Corps. The OSS eventually became the CIA.

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- Her maiden name is McWilliams.

- Julia had high hopes of distinguishing herself in college basketball, but the administration of Smith College, her alma mater, changed the game rules (they did away with the jump ball) to ensure she didn't receive an unfair advantage due to her height. "I was not good at the rest of the game," said Child in her only authorized biography, "Appetite for Life" by Noel Riley Fitch.

-- Julia was a research assistant in the Secret Intelligence division of the OSS. While she never spent time in the field, she did have a high security clearance that allowed her to handle top secret documents.

Step into Julia Child's kitchen

- While with the OSS, she also worked with the Emergency Sea Rescue Equipment Section and even helped develop shark repellent that was crucial during WWII. Underwater bombs that were meant for German U-boats would attract curious sharks that would sometimes cause premature explosions when they bumped into them.

- With the OSS, Julia was stationed in Sri Lanka and China. While she was stationed overseas she met Paul Child, also an OSS officer. He is credited with teaching her to appreciate French cuisine.

The time Julia Child snorted, accidentally cut a guy and other fan tales

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- 573 pounds of butter were used on her show "Baking with Julia."

- Julia wrote short stories in college and advertising copy for a furniture company after graduation.

- Child once attributed her longevity to "red meat and gin." She died two days shy of her 92nd birthday.

- Child was the first woman inducted into the Culinary Institute of America's Hall of Fame.

Note: This was originally published on Child's 100th birthday in 2012. The CNN Library also contributed to this report.

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