The night Child won her first of six Emmys, in 1965, Bill Cosby presented her with the award. She leaned over and whispered, “I’m sorry, would you mind telling me what your name is?” “Certainly,” he replied. “Sidney Poitier.”
When I pull out Appetite for Life, Noël Riley Fitch’s 1997 biography of her, Child scoffs and shoos it away. “I’ve never read it. Why would I? I gave the writer all my files and told her to write it as long as I didn’t have to have anything to do with it.”
“You didn’t talk to her?”
“I did a little bit, but I was busy.”
“It didn’t interest me. Besides, a biography makes you sound dead. Would you like some water?”
At which point Child politely makes it clear that she’s just a little bored of trawling through the past and would rather discuss the future, in particular the memoir she’s planning to write about her husband, who died in 1994. She also wants it known that if anyone’s interested in a ninety-something cook, she’s ready for a comeback.
“Julia has always had the idea that once she went off the air, everyone would forget her,” her friend and colleague Pat Pratt told me.
I want to assure her that it isn’t true, but I’m afraid it won’t sound sincere.
“So, would you consider doing another show?” I ask instead.
“I wouldn’t object.”
“Nor would your fans,” I say.
To her great credit, she looks genuinely surprised.