With Julie and Julia being a surprise hit this summer, Julia Child has once again rocketed to the forefront of the national consciousness. Child is the iconic figure of popularizing haute cuisine, blazing a trail on television long before anyone dreamed up The Food Network or Top Chef, and publishing her bestselling classic, Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 1961. Her entire kitchen is now on permanent display in Washington, DC, at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
Child had a fascinating life apart from cooking. After an idyllic New England childhood, she worked for the OSS during World War II -- at 6'2", she was far too tall for the Women's Army Corps, or to be part of the Navy's WAVES. She lived all over the world, and first fell in love with French cooking while living in Paris with her husband, Paul Child. The rest, one might say, is history. Her cooking show was watched by millions, with loads of cameos in film and TV.
And her influence went even beyond cooking. Here she is demonstrating the fundamentals of abiogenesis. Not to be confused with Darwin's theory of evolution, abiogenesis refers specifically to the science behind how life on Earth may have evolved out of a primordial soup of inanimate matter. She made the educational film in 1976 for the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. It's nice to see her legacy passed on to the YouTube generation.