Martha Stewart has created a household name for herself, best known for her culinary expertise, and for being the world's most unlikely felon. At 76 years old, her career has spanned close to five decades and her net worth has blossomed into an empire worth close to $700 million dollars. One of the most recognizable and successful women in America, Martha has quite a few surprises up her sleeve.
Before she made it big in the home and garden industry, Martha was just a hard-working college girl, struggling to pay bills. Raised with a strong work ethic, she used her good looks and charm to earn her some extra money while she completed her studies. Her modelling career was at it's peak in the early '60s, when she signed on with the famed Ford Modelling Agency. She was paid up to $50 an hour for shoots with Chanel, which was quite a pretty penny in the '60s for a young student.
Most people don't know Martha as anything but a pleasant grandmother who speaks slowly and cooks like a goddess, and we're here to blow that all up! Before her apple-pie baking days, Martha was an absolute bombshell who would put any modern-day model to shame. We have all of the old school, never-before-seen shots, along with all of the facts you didn't know about the mysterious Martha. Join us for a blast into the past — here are 15 Photos That Prove Martha Stewart Was Once A Bombshell!
15 Martha Has 100% Polish Roots
Martha might have risen to the top in America, but her parents are Polish immigrants who came to the United States shortly before Martha was born. Her father, Eddie Kostyra, and her mother, Martha Ruszkowski, settled in Jersey City, New Jersey, where they would raise their six children. Martha was the second born, and quickly became mother's little helper with the younger children. She learnt how to cook and sew by watching her mother, and later, her grandparents taught her how to can and preserve goods. Martha was a natural-born homemaker — everything that could be made, repaired, baked or cooked was appealing to her. She was an avid art club member in school and she also enjoyed domestic activities such as babysitting.
14 She Was Married For 30 Years
Martha was attending Barnard College, a women's only liberal arts school, where she studied art, history, and architectural history. During her college years, she met the man who would become her husband, Andrew Stewart. Andrew was a law student at Yale Law School, and the pair wed before Martha finished her degree. She would take a year off and return to finish her double degree in history and architectural history the following year. Although the pair seemed to be blissfully happy, Martha herself would later admit that she ruined their marriage by being cold and mean with her husband. She even had affairs on the side, and tried to offer her husband to a "needy friend" who was looking for a partner. Martha might look like sugar and spice and everything nice on the outside, but she has a little devil on her shoulder, too!
13 Her Career Started With A Home Catering Business
Martha was born to be a businesswoman. Her father instilled in her a passion for organization, a thirst for financial security and the confidence to become a self-made woman. Andrew and Martha moved to Connecticut after they finished school and bought an old farmhouse, which would serve several purposes. First, it was the home of Martha's first start-up, a home catering company, which she established in 1976 with a group of friends. Some of the women who were part of the venture later spoke out about Martha's bossy behaviour. Allegedly, her attitude and need to control everything led to several women leaving the company. She would end up buying out the partners' shares and running the company on her own.
12 She Soon Became The Cookbook Queen
While Martha was establishing herself as a pretty good chef and caterer, her husband Andrew was climbing the ranks of New York City's publishing houses. He secured a very good position with Harry N. Abrams Inc, with whom he helped release several blockbuster books that would make the New York Times Bestseller List. He called in Martha to cater a book release event, where she was introduced to the head honcho of The Crown Publishing Group. Alan Mirken was impressed with Martha's food, and charm, and the two discussed the possibility of releasing a cookbook. In 1982, Martha's first book, Entertaining, was released, although it was under the pen name of a ghost writer. The popularity of the book set her career aflame. She would release another seven books in the 80's, and author many articles in popular magazines.
11 She Joined Forces With Oprah And Larry King
In the '90s, there were two prominent figures on American television: Oprah Winfrey and Larry King. The two were rising to the top for very different reasons, and had impressive ratings. Oprah Winfrey had a morning talk show that hosted different celebrities, chefs, artists, and personal development gurus. Martha was soon a regular guest on the show, providing America with easy-to-follow recipes, home improvement techniques, and craft ideas. Subsequently, she was featured on Larry King Live on several occasions, where she spoke about her budding empire, her success as a woman in business, and her cooking skills. This exposure would allow her to become a household name — everyone in America now knew who Martha Stewart was. Considered the queen of domesticity and cooking, she had really made it to the peak of her career.
10 Her Divorce Was Finalized In 1990
In 1987, after 26 years of marriage, Andrew and Martha announced their separation. Although they did have one child together, daughter Alexis Stewart, born in 1965, it was not enough to keep the pair together. Their marriage was wrought with negative moments, horrible fights, and power struggles. Not to mention, Martha was basically subjecting her husband to psychological abuse, taunting and bullying for close to three decades. She had affairs and then told her husband about the intimate details. She was a real tyrant and stopped at nothing to make Andrew suffer. Married life was clearly not for Martha, she has said many times that she will never get married again. She has dated Sir Anthony Hopkins and Charles Simonyi since her divorce. More recently, people are speculating that she might be interested in her co-star and friend, Snoop Dogg, whom she admittedly finds "very attractive."
9 Martha Stewart Living Was First Released In 1990
In 1990, recently divorced and enjoying the perks of being an internationally-recognized businesswoman, Martha's first issue of Martha Stewart Living was released. The magazine, which centred on all things to do with cooking, crafting, and gardening, also had a sister TV show covering the same topics. Published by Time Inc, the magazine started out as a quarterly publication and quickly evolved into a monthly release. Since mid-1994, the magazine has been published every month, bringing the longevity of the magazine to over two decades. Martha serves as editor-in-chief for the magazine and has consistently played a huge role in determining recipes, content, and articles for publication. The television segment of Martha Stewart Living went on brief hiatus when she got into legal trouble.
8 Legal Troubles
Martha might have built herself an empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars, but she got herself into some pretty serious legal trouble to avoid losing $45,673 on the stock market. The trouble began when she was tipped off by her broker at Merrill Lynch, Peter Bacanovic, of an impending drop in share value for her stocks held with ImClone Systems. On the advice of her broker, she withdrew all of the money she had invested in this fund to avoid a massive loss. This interaction happened in December, 2001. In June 2003, she was indicted on nine counts, and her trial began in January 2004. The legal fumble made national and international headlines. No one could believe that innocent apple-pie-baking Martha could be caught up in these very serious allegations.
Martha's trial dragged on for six weeks and it became the biggest celebrity legal case since the O.J. Simpson trial in America. She was found guilty in March of conspiracy, making false statements to police and fraud. She was sentenced to five months behind bars at a correctional facility, followed by five months of electronic monitoring (house arrest) and a total probationary period of two years. She equally had to pay a fine of $30,000, and close to $200,000 to settle the civil case against her. In the end, the trouble was much more costly than any money she potentially would have saved with her little fiasco. Martha has said that her prison nickname was "M. Diddy" and that she didn't exactly enjoy being behind bars. Despite this downfall, Martha would rise back up to fame shortly after her release.
6 Bouncing Back
In the aftermath of her legal issues, Martha didn't waste any time wallowing in self-pity or shame. It seemed as if the prison sentence only increased her appeal. All of a sudden, Martha was back in the headlines, with everyone wondering what her next move would be. Instead of laying low, she went big. She got involved in Martha Stewart Living once again, and expanded her line of Martha Stewart Everyday products at Kmart. She got back into television with The Martha Stewart Show. In 2005, she was on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, which was, sadly, a flop. In 2005, she released a new book, The Martha Rules, which was followed by another cookbook, The Martha Stewart Baking Handbook. Girl wasted no time getting back to business!
5 She Got Into Wine
And no, I don't mean she started drinking, although that is totally possible, too. In 2007, as if Martha didn't have enough sources of revenue, she signed a contract with E&J Gallo Winery, and a new wine was born. She released a speciality wine collection called Martha Stewart Vintage (insert "LOL" here, it's okay). The special wine offerings included a Chardonnay, a Merlo,t and a Cabernet Sauvignon. Apparently, the wine did very well, and she soon evolved into offering a larger selection under The Martha Stewart Wine Co. Her personalized website allows buyers to select bottles recommended by Martha, and gives advice on perfect food pairings. Some of the bottles she offers are quite pricey and exclusive, which seems to be her new marketing technique. Give the people their fancy wine to go with their fancy Martha Stewart appetizers!
4 She's Blogging
There's really no current trend that Martha hasn't capitalized on yet, so it's no surprise that she's also taken to blogging. Clearly, she has a team of writers that maintain her blog, which literally covers all things Martha. A visit to The Martha Blog is your one-stop shop for recipes, fancy wine, gardening, and entertaining ideas, a tour of Martha's family homes, an introduction to her farm animals, and an intimate look inside her family photo albums. There is literally nothing left unexplored. This highly promoted and exposed lifestyle is totally trending these days. In the Big Brother age, we want to see everything and know everything — where you eat, sleep and what your dogs look like.
3 Her Daughter Is 52
For many, Martha Stewart is a timeless celebrity, one of those people who have kind of always been in the background. You don't seem to notice when they slowly get older, until you are hit with a reality check. Martha is 76 years old. Her daughter, Alexis, is 52. Alexis also has a career in television and radio and was a host and announcer for many years. She has appeared in many of her mother's specials, as well. Although their relationship is great, Alexis did have a show called Whatever, Martha, which was essentially an entire comedic series aimed at poking fun at Martha Stewart. She has spoken out about how difficult it was to grow up with Martha as a mother. Clearly, this crazed-Martha that we hear about actually seems to exist, we just don't see that side of her on TV!
2 She's Tight With Snoop
Nowadays, Martha is keeping herself busy with her newest venture, a televised cooking program that she co-hosts with Snoop Dogg. The unlikely besties have been friends for close to a decade and their show, Martha & Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party, is in its second season. The show combines recipes, celebrity guests, a ton of silly pot-smoking references, and some pretty cool costumes. When the two started the show, many people speculated that Martha might be interested in her 30-years-younger rapper co-star. Although she has admitted to finding him very handsome, she has said that she could never actually date him. I guess that's a good thing, since he is married after all. But Martha has never been one to turn down a married man, what am I thinking!
1 No Slowing Down
So there we have it! At 76 years old, Martha is showing very little signs of being ready to slow down or retire from the limelight. She seems to do more and more every year, and the money and net worth just keep climbing. Her 50 years as a celebrity have gotten her so accustomed to living in the spotlight, a more private and quiet life would probably be hard for her to adjust to. It seems like it was another lifetime when she was just a young, hot model. It's hard to believe that she's the same Martha, but alas, she does wear many hats. This lady is as successful as she is mysterious, and perhaps we will never get the full picture of what happens "behind the scenes." Love her or hate her, she is definitely an American icon like no other.