HBO Max’s biographical drama series ‘Julia’ revolves around the incredibly moving life of television chef and author Julia Child, who hosted the famed and influential cooking show titled ‘The French Chef.’ The series depicts Julia’s efforts to launch her show on WGBH-TV upon overcoming the sexism of the television industry of the early 1960s.
In the series, Julia appears in P. Albert Duhamel’s book review show ‘I’ve Been Reading’ to promote her cookbook ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking.’ Since Julia’s well-received appearance acts as a stepping stone for her to create her cooking series, one must be wondering about the authenticity of Duhamel and his show. Well, here’s everything you need to know!
Is Albert Duhamel a Real TV Host? Is “I’ve Been Reading” a Real TV Show?
Yes, Albert Duhamel is a real TV host, and ‘I’ve Been Reading’ is a real book review show he hosted on WGBH-TV, chiefly in the early 1960s. Duhamel was primarily an English professor at Boston College from 1949 to 1998. Due to an inadequate budget, his show mainly accommodated writers from Boston and the nearby region, including his colleagues. In February 1962, Julia appeared on Duhamel’s show, which changed the course of her life forever. Ahead of her television appearance, Julia called Russ Morash and asked for a hot plate to cook an omelet on the show.
Julia’s appearance on ‘I’ve Been Reading’ was a stand-out. The typical dry intellectuality of the professor’s show stepped aside to welcome Julia’s appealing presence. She cooked a mushroom omelet – French style – and surprised the crew members and audiences alike.
Astounding the producers at WGBH-TV, the Julia Child episode of the series was very well-received by the audience. There were twenty-seven letters demanding Julia’s reappearance on the channel. The episode and its reception seemingly influenced the channel to give Julia a chance to move forward with her cooking show concept.
In ‘My Life in France’ – an autobiography Julia wrote with her great-nephew Alex Prud’homme – the famed chef acknowledged Duhamel’s demeanor. “Mr. Duhamel was calm, clear, and professional; it helped that he loved food and cooking, and had actually read our book,” she wrote. Julia’s appearance on ‘I’ve Been Reading’ became the starting point of her journey as a television personality. Through his appreciable acceptance of Julia’s cooking on his show, Duhamel became a part of her highly recognized career. Following the response Julia’s episode received, WGBH-TV greenlit three pilot episodes of ‘The French Chef.’
On the other hand, Duhamel served as the book review editor for the Boston Herald. As a writer himself, he was a part of Pulitzer Prize committees for several years. A series of Duhamel’s lectures were compiled and published as a book named ‘After Strange Fruit: Changing Literary Taste in Post–World War II Boston.’ He also wrote ‘Rhetoric: Principles and Usage’ with his colleague Dick Hughes.
Duhamel died at the age of 86 on October 1, 2006, due to a blood infection. His career as a television host and his show ‘I’ve Been Reading’ weren’t celebrated much. But the role Duhamel and his show played in the life and career of Julia Child is truly memorable.