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Everyone knows the funny little—and large—facts of Julia Child’s life: She stood 6-foot-2, worked in Ceylon for the Office of Secret Services, and started her second career late in middle age. So why bother with a biography, when tributes and pop-culture odes (consider the groan-worthy adaptation of Julie & Julia, the blog, into Julie & Julia, the film) to the most famous French cuisine-adapting American are as common as butter? Because Bob Spitz did the same for The Beatles and Bob Dylan, and did it well. His biographies of people whose lives seem like they don’t need to be rechronicled are regarded as monumental, definitive works, dense with historical context and extensive research. Spitz’s latest, Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child, is arguably as rich as the chef’s recipe for vichyssoise.

Spitz leads a lecture at 7 p.m. at the National Museum of Natural History’s Baird Auditorium, 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. $25. smithsonianassociates.org. (202) 633-3030.