MARTHA STEWART Biography - People in the News and Media


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Name: Martha Stewart                                                                   
Birth name: Martha Helen Kostyra                                                       
Born: 3 August 1941 Nutley, New Jersey United States                                   
Martha Stewart (born as Martha Helen Kostyra on August 3, 1941) is an American         
business magnate, author, editor and homemaking advocate. She is also a former         
stockbroker and fashion model. Over the last two decades Stewart has held a           
prominent position in the American publishing industry; as the author of several       
books, hundreds of articles on the domestic arts, editor of a national                 
homekeeping magazine, host for two popular daytime television programs, and           
commercial spokeswoman for K-Mart. In 2001 she was named the third most powerful       
woman in America by Ladies Home Journal. In 2004 she was convicted of lying to         
investigators about a stock sale and served five months in prison.                     
Martha Stewart was born in Jersey City, New Jersey to middle-class Polish-American     
parents Edward "Eddie" Kostyra (c. 1912 - 1979) and Martha Ruszkowski Kostyra (b.     
Buffalo, New York, September 16, 1914  d. Norwalk, Connecticut, November 16,           
2007). Stewart, along with her five siblings, was raised in Nutley, New               
Jersey. Stewart graduated from Nutley High School in her hometown.                     
Her family instilled in her a strong passion for activities in the home. 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 modelling career.       
She was hired and appeared in several television commercials and magazines,           
including one of Tareyton's famous "Rather fight than switch" cigarette               
advertisements. Finishing with straight As, she was awarded a partial                 
scholarship to Barnard College in New York City.                                       
Initially she intended to major in Chemistry, but switched to Art and European         
History, and later Architectural History. It was around this time that she met         
and later married her husband, Andrew "Andy" Stewart, on July 1, 1961. After           
marrying Andrew Stewart, Martha left Barnard for one year, and 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. In 1967,         
she became a stockbroker. She was very successful until she left the profession       
in 1973, in order to focus more time on her daughter, and to restore her new           
home in Connecticut. It has been suggested that a scandal involving Levitz             
Furniture may have contributed to her decision to leave the firm of Monness,           
Horstman, Williams, and Sidel. Several Principals at the firm allegedly received       
kick-backs from Levitz for selling stock in the financially-troubled company.         
Stewart and her husband decided to move to Westport, Connecticut. They purchased       
and undertook a massive restoration of the 1805 farmhouse on Turkey Hill Road         
that would later become the model for the set of the Martha Stewart Living             
television program. Stewart and her husband undertook the entire venture by           
themselves. During the project, Stewart's panache for restoring and decorating         
became apparent.                                                                       
In 1976 Stewart started a catering business in her basement with a friend from         
her modelling days, Norma Collier. The venture quickly became successful, but         
soured when Collier alleged that Stewart was difficult to work with, and was           
also taking catering jobs on the side. Stewart soon bought her portion of the         
business. Stewart was also hired as the manager of a gourmet food store, The           
Market Basket at the Common Market which she transformed into a booming success.       
Meanwhile, Stewart's husband had become the president of prominent New York City       
publisher Harry N. Abrams, Inc. In 1977, Andy Stewart was responsible for             
releasing the English-language edition of The Secret Book of Gnomes series, by         
Dutch authors Wil Huygen and Rien Poortvliet which quickly became a blockbuster       
success and New York Times Best Seller. Andy Stewart contracted Stewart's             
company to cater the book release party, where she was introduced to Alan Mirken,     
the 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. The result was Entertaining, ghostwritten by long-time   
fashion maven Elizabeth Hawes.                                                         
From there, word of her skills and business grew rapidly. Entertaining became a       
New York Times Best Seller, and the best selling cookbook since Julia Child and       
Simone Beck's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, released two decades earlier.