People Who Kick Buts: Martha Stewart
I’m a maniacal perfectionist. And if I weren’t, I wouldn’t have this company.
- Born on August 3, 1941.
- As founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, she has gained success through a variety of business ventures, encompassing publishing, broadcasting, merchandising, and electronic commerce.
- She has written numerous bestselling books, is the publisher of the Martha Stewart Living magazine, and her syndicated talk show, Martha, is broadcast throughout the world.
- In 2004, Stewart was entangled in the ImClone insider trading affair and there was speculation that the incident would effectively be the end of her media empire. She began a comeback campaign in 2005 and her company returned to profitability in 2006. Stewart rejoined the board of directors of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia in 2011 and became chairman of her namesake company again in 2012.
- Martha Stewart was born in Jersey City, New Jersey to middle-class Polish American parents, Edward “Eddie” Kostyra (c. 1912 – 1979) and Jadwiga Martha Ruszkowski Kostyra.
- At the age of 15, Stewart was featured in a television commercial for Unilever soap. Her next brush with fame came in 1961, when she became the occasional babysitter for the children of Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Gil McDougald of the New York Yankees.
The Mantles had four boys, all under the age of ten and Merlyn Mantle was overwhelmed. Martha would organize birthday parties and babysit for all four. “They would behave for Martha”, declared Martha, and her domestic career thus began.
- Stewart’s mother taught her how to cook and sew. Later, she learned the processes of canning and preserving when she visited her grandparents’ home in Buffalo, New York. Her father had a passion for gardening, and passed on much of his knowledge and expertise to his daughter.
Stewart was also active in many extracurricular activities, such as the school newspaper and the Art Club. During this time, Stewart began a modeling career.
- Initially intending to major in chemistry, she switched to art and European History, and later architectural history. It was around this time that she met and later married Andrew Stewart, on July 1, 1961. She left Barnard but continued her moderately successful modeling career, while her husband finished his law degree at Yale Law School. She returned to Barnard a year later, to graduate with a double major in History and Architectural History.
- In 1965, her only child, daughter Alexis Stewart, was born.
- At this time, Stewart began to hone and develop her business skills.
- Andrew and she moved to Westport, Connecticut. They purchased and undertook a restoration of the 1805 farmhouse on Turkey Hill Road that would later become the model for the TV studio of the Martha Stewart Living show. Martha and her husband undertook the entire venture by themselves.
- Andrew had become the president of prominent New York City publisher, Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
- At a book release part, Stewart was introduced to Alan Mirken, head of Crown Publishing Group.
Mirken was impressed by Stewart’s talent and later contacted her to develop a cookbook, featuring recipes and photos from the parties that Stewart hosted.
- In 1990, she also signed with Time Publishing Ventures to develop a new magazine, Martha Stewart Living, for which Stewart would serve as editor-in-chief.
- On June 4, 2003, Stewart was indicted by the government on nine counts, including charges of securities fraud and obstruction of justice.
Stewart wanted to go to prison in Connecticut or Florida. She did not want to serve at Federal Prison Camp, Alderson in West Virginia, due to its remote location; in 2004, her lawyer said that the remoteness would make it difficult for Stewart’s then-90 year old mother to visit.
- In 1989, Martha and Andrew divorced. Stewart dated Sir Anthony Hopkins, but the relationship was short-lived since she decided to cut it short after seeing The Silence of the Lambs, due to her being unable to avoid associating him with the character of Hannibal Lecter.
- Stewart reportedly dated billionaire Charles Simonyi, who was an early employee of Microsoft and head of their software group, on-and-off for 15 years.
- Martha Kostyra, Stewart’s mother, died at the age of 93 on November 16, 2007. Martha Kostyra, also called “Big Martha” by her family, had appeared on Martha Stewart Living numerous times.
- In Fall 2012, the TV series ‘Cooking School’ is expected to debut on PBS. Each weekly 30 minute episode will cover a cooking technique.