Martha was Born ...:
... Martha Helen Kostyra on August 3, 1941, in Jersey City, N.J. She is one of five siblings.
Growing Up with Martha ... :
... was growing up in a family that enjoyed traditions – traditions that Martha would later turn into a multi-million dollar career. She learned sewing and cooking from her mother, canning and crafts from her grandmother, gardening from her father, and art and style from high school classes and a short modeling career.
Martha attended Barnard College in New York City on a partial scholarship, where she majored in art and history. She took a brief hiatus and married Andy Stewart, then studying law. Together, they are the parents of one child, Alexis Stewart.
The Early Years:
Martha started out not as a designer or in home renovation, but as a Wall Street stockbroker. She was quite adept at it, but left the profession in 1973 to give more of her time to her family. Instead, she found herself knee-deep in a home renovation project – her famous abode on Turkey Hill Road, which she and her husband completely renovated on their own. It would later become the inspiration for the set of her one of the TV program Martha Stewart Living.
She used her business acumen to start a catering business – also successful. Martha was also a gourmet food market manager, and she turned that into a gold mine as well. While catering a job for her husband’s publishing company, Martha was presented with the opportunity to author a cookbook. She accepted. That book, Entertaining (ghostwritten, but developed completely by Martha), was a New York Times bestseller.
After publishing a series of cookbooks and guides, and after landing as guest on TV shows from The Oprah Winfrey Show to The Early Show, she launched the magazine Martha Stewart Living. That would later be the basis for her first eponymously named TV program.
Becoming a Talk Show Host:
The success of Martha Stewart Living as a magazine heralded its success as a TV show, and soon Martha was one of a number of new daytime talk show hosts. Living was less talk show than TV magazine, and it emulated in many ways its source material. By now, Martha was less a magazine publisher and TV host – she was a full-fledged brand. That brand is managed by her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.
Following the ImClone scandal (see below), which saw the end of Martha Stewart Living on TV, Martha launched a new program, produced by Survivor’s Mark Burnett, titled Martha.
That Whole Jail Thing:
You cannot really have a biography of Martha Stewart – however brief – without mentioning the ImClone scandal, which would eventually lead to Martha’s five-month incarceration.
At the base of the scandal was the accusation that Martha, along with others, was guilty of securities fraud and obstruction of justice related to possible insider trading of ImClone stock. ImClone is a biopharmaceutical company.
In late 2001, Martha sold ImClone stock a day before the value of the stock plunged, based on a report that drug had not received federal approval. She avoided losing more than $45, 000 through the sale of that stock.
She was indicted in 2003 and stood trial in 2004. Martha was found guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of an agency proceeding, and making false statements to federal investigators. She spent five-months in jail and five months in house arrest.
The conviction has caused her problems, as one might expect. In June 2008, she was refused a visa to enter Great Britain. And as a result of the 2006 settlement of the civil case against her, Martha is barred from serving as a director, or as the CEO, CFO, and so forth, of any public company for five years.
And Just for Fun:
- Had a brief modeling career
- Was a member of her high school’s Art Club
- Was a stockbroker
- Hosted The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, which lasted one season
- Has added a line of homes to her laundry list of branded products
- Also is working on creating a wine, Martha Stewart Vintage.
- Has a 24-hour satellite radio channel on Sirius radio
- Her daughter, Alexis, hosts a program on Sirius