Late to the party. Julia Child didn’t get into cooking until her diplomat husband was stationed in France. During WW2, she was a research assistant in the OSS (which later became the CIA), where she helped invent a shark repellent to keep sharks away from sea mines intended for German U-boats.
I grew up in the 80s/90s. He wasn’t seen as that positive even at that time. I’m even from the North so this isn’t about the region in that respect. He was probably considered more positive than at the end of his life, but he was basically taught as a racist who wanted to kill off the whites to advance the blacks. Basically like a Neo-Nazi for the other side.