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Beard, James (1903-1985)  
 
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Biographer Robert Clark reports that in 1950 Beard began a relationship with "a Dutchman, Ate de Boer, a shadowy presence over the next few years, whom no one remembers much about." Beard's friends regarded the "relationship [as] of little emotional intimacy, if one of some affection and companionship, . . . and the delectation of his lover's body; perhaps not love but nonetheless a quiet and forthright rejoinder to solitude."

Beard had a great gift for friendship and was generous in supporting those for whom he cared. He was, however, frequently depressed by his failure to find a life-partner, and, states Clark, in his later years, "his long-standing guardedness about his emotional life gave way to a sad and bitter openness" and to a despairing belief that "no one had ever genuinely loved him" and that "he was incapable of love himself."

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Beard continued his prodigious output of magazine articles and cookbooks, leading the New York Times to declare him "the Dean of American Cookery."

In 1956, initially in partnership with chef André Surmain, Beard opened a cooking school. The personnel and location would change several times over the years, but Beard's enthusiasm and natural talent as a teacher made the venture a great success. Beard continued to offer classes in New York throughout his life and eventually added special short courses in Oregon and San Francisco.

At around the same time, Beard, deeply depressed by the break-up of an affair, met Italian architect Gino Colfacci, who soon moved in with him and never left, even after they ceased to be romantically involved.

Beard was a champion not just of American cooking but also of American cooks. In the early 1950s he sought an introduction to California writer Helen Evans Brown after reading her The West Coast Cook Book and being greatly impressed by her extensive knowledge of regional cooking. The two would remain lifelong friends, exchanging frequent letters about food and the food community.

In 1961 Beard was pleased to welcome Julia Child and Simone Beck, the co-authors of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, as guests at one of his classes. He was particularly taken with Child, who returned to the school the following year as a visiting instructor on her way to achieving stardom in the food community herself. Like Brown, Child and her husband, Paul, became dear friends of Beard.

In the late 1970s Beard used his newspaper column to introduce Louisiana chef Paul Prudhomme and Cajun cuisine to the American public.

Beard returned to television in 1965 with The James Beard Show. The syndicated program, with five episodes per week, was taped in Canada, giving Beard a very difficult schedule as he juggled that with his writing, teaching, and extensive traveling. The show lasted approximately a year and a half. Thereafter, Beard did not attempt the rigors of hosting his own program, but he remained in the eye of the American public with regular guest appearances on The Mike Douglas Show.

By 1970 Beard, who had always fought a losing battle with his weight, was suffering health problems because of it, including high blood pressure and varicose veins. The following year a heart attack landed him in the hospital for a month of convalescence. Nevertheless, by the end of the year he published what he considered his masterwork, James Beard's American Cookery, a compendium of some 1,500 recipes that ran to almost 900 pages.

Beard bought a four-story townhouse in Greenwich Village in 1972 and moved in, along with his comely, efficient, and personable houseman, Clay Triplette. There was a separate apartment for Colfacci, who had long since given up architecture and drifted from one job to another, sometimes teaching lessons on pastry at the cooking school.

Joining the household in 1974 was a young man named Carl Jerome, a former cabbie whom Beard had hired as a driver but who soon became his lover and constant companion, assisting him in ways ranging from pushing the wheelchair that he frequently needed to use to doing the cooking at classes under his direction.

Despite increasing medical problems, Beard kept up an exhausting schedule of travel in both Europe and the United States. Included were trips to give classes in San Francisco and Gearhart. Beard had always maintained a close relationship with friends from Oregon and never lost his affection for the region. He was especially gratified when the mayor honored him by proclaiming September 20, 1974 as James Beard Day in Portland. He was also very pleased when Reed College, which had expelled him so long before, awarded him an honorary doctorate in June 1976.

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