What did Julia Child die of? Cause of Death Explained

Julia Child survived cancer in secret for years before she died—what here’s killed her. Let’s see what was Julia Child Cause of Death.

Julia Child’s Early Life

Child, who was born Julia Carolyn McWilliams on August 15, 1912, in Pasadena, California, was a cooking instructor, author, and television personality who is credited with popularising French cuisine in America, thanks in part to her 1961 handbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

The cookbook was an instant critical and economic success, selling more than 1.5 million copies since its initial publication, and it is still considered a key work of culinary literature today. Because of its popularity, Child’s first cookery show, The French Chef, was produced in 1963.

The show earned both Peabody and Emmy Awards during its ten-year run, including the first Primetime Emmy Award for an educational program.

Before her death in 2004, the series solidified Child’s place as one of the most well-known and cherished culinary celebrities in America, if not the globe. A child’s life and career continue to pique attention nearly two decades after her death. Julia, an HBO Max biographical series that premiered on March 31, 2022, is based on her story.

The show follows Child after the triumph of her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It stars English actress Sarah Lancashire. However, even fans of the show may have reservations regarding Julia Child’s death. Continue reading below to learn everything we know about the Child’s death, including her own health struggles throughout the years.

How did Julia Child die?

Julia Child died two days before her 92nd birthday on August 13, 2004. She died at 2:50 a.m. in an assisted living facility in Montecito, California. Julia Child’s niece, Philadelphia Cousins, claimed at the time, “She went away in her sleep.” “She was surrounded by family and friends, as well as her kitty, Minou.” Around the house, she had cookbooks and various artwork by her husband Paul.”

Following Child’s death, Nicholas Latimer, director of publicity for Child’s publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, released a statement. He commented at the time, “America has lost a great national treasure.” “She will be sorely missed.”

The child’s death came after decades of professional accomplishment. She was honored with a Peabody Award in 1965. She received an Emmy for her work on The French Chef the next year. Child and her husband built a country property in Provence, France, with earnings from the sales of her breakthrough book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. In 1966, they spent Christmas at the property, La Pitchoune.

They would spend the next few decades relaxing and working in their French home. “How fortunate we are to be alive at this time!” Around this period, Paul wrote to his brother, “Each doing what he most likes, in a fantastically suited environment, close to each other, superbly fed and sheltered, with excellent health, and few interruptions.”

Despite this, the Child wasn’t always in good health. Julia was diagnosed with breast cancer while working on draughts for her 1968 The French Chef Cookbook, which was based on her PBS series of the same name. The child’s physicians ordered a full, radical mastectomy after a routine test confirmed the diagnosis. According to PBS, she wrote in her datebook for February 18, 1968, “Left breast off.” She spent a total of ten days in the hospital at the time, during which her husband Paul was a wreck.

The child was apparently stoic until she broke down in tears in a bathtub at home following her hospital stay, while he feared losing her. The child’s struggle with cancer was a taboo subject in her life for a long time, but she eventually became open about it in the hopes of influencing others to get treatment. In an interview with TIME, she said of her cancer experience, “I would not pussyfoot about getting a radical because it’s not worth it.” The child is thought to have been in remission till she died.

Julia Child Cause of Death

Julia Child has been the focus of various initiatives since her death in 2004, including Julie & Julia in 2009 and Julia, an HBO Max series set to premiere in 2022. Despite the fact that these television shows and films go into great depth about Julia Child’s life, many admirers are still curious about how she died after all these years.

The child was diagnosed with breast cancer at one point, but it was not the cause of her death. Kidney failure was reported to be the Child’s cause of death at the time of her death in 2004. According to the Los Angeles Times, the California native was in generally good health in the months preceding her death, often attending farmer’s markets and eating out frequently. She didn’t start having kidney problems until a few weeks before she died. After a final lunch of French onion soup, she died peacefully in her sleep.

Read Julia Child’s memoir, My Life in France, from 2006 for more information. The New York Times bestseller follows Child’s pivotal years in France, from her arrival in 1948 with her husband, Paul, with no knowledge of the country or its language, to how her life was forever changed as she immersed herself in French culture, took classes at the Cordon Bleau, and shopped at local markets.


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