Julia Child dies at age 91.

Her television debut in 1962 was one of the most liberating in the history of a usually tame medium. Julia Child was 50 years old and an uninhibited 6-foot-2, trilled commands in a headmistressy warble that sounded like Kate Hepburn after a pint of gin, played the kitchen like an ambidextrous tympanist and didn't care how she looked or sounded as long as her ungainly, unbounded joy caught on.

"There was this woman tossing French omelettes, splashing eggs about the place, brandishing big knives, panting heavily as she careened about the stove." So Child described her first night on PBS in the role for which she was made, even if it took her 50 years to find the perfect part.

By the time of her death on Friday at the age of 91, Child had long since been sanctified as the guiding spirit of the kitchen, and American culture had found a way to appropriate her complete and utter strangeness. But to the last she made it bracingly clear that she was as out of step with modern life in this millennium as she'd been back in the black-and-white days of the last one.


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