Best known for: The television show Martha Stewart Living
Where did Martha Stewart grow up?
Martha Kostyra was born in Jersey City, New Jersey on August 3, 1941 (she became Martha Stewart when she was married to Andy Stewart in 1961). Martha's dad was a pharmaceutical salesman and her mother was a homemaker and a teacher. Martha was the second of six children. Martha's parents were both of Polish descent and the Polish heritage and culture was important to the family.
When Martha was three years old her family moved to the town of Nutley, New Jersey. It was in Nutley that Martha grew up. Her parents were fairly strict and required their children to do plenty of chores and help around the house. Martha learned how to cook and sew from her mother. She also learned about gardening by helping her father out in the yard. Once a year Martha would spend a few weeks with her grandparents. Her grandmother taught her how to preserve foods and make jams and jellies.
When Martha was in high school, she made extra money babysitting and organizing children's parties. She was a bright student and attended Barnard College in New York City. She helped to pay for her schooling through modeling jobs. In 1962, she graduated Barnard with degrees in History and Architectural History.
Before graduating from college, Martha married Andy Stewart. After college she and Andy traveled and Martha continued to model. Martha had her only child, a daughter named Alexis, in 1965. In 1967, Martha wanted to go to work. She got a job as a stockbroker in New York City. She worked as a stockbroker for six years.
In 1971, Martha and Andy purchased a farm home they called Turkey Hill in Westport, Connecticut. After quitting her job, Martha spent her time completely restoring the old farmhouse. She also studied how to cook and became an excellent gourmet chef. One day Martha decided to put her cooking skills to the test by opening up her own catering business. She cooked food and hosted large dinner parties and quickly became a success.
At one of the dinner parties Martha was catering she met a book publisher who was impressed with her cooking skills. She soon developed and published a cookbook called Entertaining. It was a success. She followed up her first book with more cooking and party books including Martha Stewart's Pies & Tarts, The Wedding Planner, Martha Stewart's Quick Menus, and Martha Stewart's Christmas. She also became famous by being featured in magazines and on TV shows like The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Magazines and TV
Through her books and television appearances, Martha had become famous. In the 1990s, she began to expand her business. She started a magazine called Martha Stewart Living, a popular newspaper column, and her own television show. The name "Martha Stewart" became a brand that made millions of dollars. In 1997, she formed a company called Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. She was president and CEO. She took the company public in 1999, selling shares in the company. At one point her estimated wealth was nearly $1 billion. She also had her own brand of products at stores like Home Depot, K-Mart, Macy's, and Sears. She also worked with home builders to design Martha Stewart inspired homes.
In 2002, Martha got in trouble for insider trading on the stock market. This means she used information not available to the public to make money on the stock market. She was convicted in 2004 and was sentenced to five months in jail. This was a major blow to her career and her public image.
Despite the setback, Martha didn't stop working. After getting out of jail she continued to work on her brand and business. She even starred in her own version of the reality show The Apprentice. She started a new show on PBS in 2012 called Martha Stewart's Cooking School.
Interesting Facts about Martha Stewart
While in high school she babysat the kids of New York Yankees members Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra.
She had become a member of the board of directors of the New York Stock Exchange just four months prior to the outbreak of her insider trading scandal.
She doesn't like bananas, but loves hot dogs.
Her net worth actually increased significantly while she was in jail.
She likes rap music, especially Eminem.
She named her bulldog Francesca, after someone she met while in prison.
She is an early riser, getting up at 5 a.m. most days to go for a hike.