The Untold Truth Of Martha Stewart

Already popular for her cookbooks in the '80s, Martha Stewart began growing her influence into the '90s with the debut of her magazine "Martha Stewart Living," per Eater. It wasn't until May 2022 that the magazine stopped publishing printed copies, but by that time, Stewart already built her impressive legacy. This businesswoman created a TV show based off the magazine and developed several spinoff publications like the highly popular "Martha Stewart Weddings." Even more, she had an exclusive deal with Kmart for ten years selling products before her branded home goods appeared in more stores like Home Depot and JCPenney. She also had her own talk show, "Martha," which went off the air in 2012. Stewart built her personal brand on her aspirational lifestyle — she mastered the art of living by becoming a specialist in activities like cooking, gardening, decorating, and more.

The multitalented Stewart could have become famous in a number of industries but she faced many challenges throughout her career, like multiple tragedies that hit close to home and getting in trouble with the law. Still, no matter what, Stewart always seemed to be a comforting voice to many on how to thrive in all aspects of life. "I have survived the rigors of time, of marriage, of childbearing, of building a business from scratch," she told People at age 79. "I have survived very nicely, and I think I make the most of it," Stewart added.

Grab your oven mitts for the untold truth of Martha Stewart.

Martha Stewart recalls her picturesque childhood

Martha Stewart grew up in Nutley, New Jersey, after her family moved from Jersey City when she was three years old, per The San Diego Union-Tribune. Stewart came from a Polish-American family and is one of six children of her parents Martha and Edward Kostyra. Stewart's grandparents ran a tavern, her mom was a schoolteacher, and her dad was a pharmaceuticals salesman. "Father instilled in all of us a sense that we could go farther than the ordinary person," one of Stewart's sisters told People

For Stewart, this meant that by the age of 10, she was already organizing parties. At her high school prom, "Martha got a hot-air balloon and inflated it in the gym." Stewart excelled in school, earning straight-A's and she was even the only woman in her high school advanced mathematics course. She was also the class treasurer as a senior, The San Diego Union-Tribune recapped. Outside of class, Stewart developed her skills in all aspects of home life. Edward taught Stewart about gardening when she was only four years old. She added cooking and sewing skills thanks to her mom and neighbors, who happened to be professional bakers, according to the Academy of Achievement.

Young Stewart also loved dressing up, especially for Halloween. "One year I was Little Bo Peep ... with vintage pantaloons, a delicate batiste shirtwaist, and charming plaid knickers," she wrote on her website. Her parents were crafty and helped create the costume for their daughter.

Details about Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg's relationship

One of the most strangely endearing duos in entertainment has to be Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg. The two first met with Snoop Dogg as a guest on "The Martha Stewart Show" in 2009. Stewart and the rapper made mashed potatoes together and though they came from completely different walks of life, both stars had joyful chemistry. "You were one of the first rappers I had on my show, and you were so much fun," she told Snoop when he appeared on "The Martha Stewart Podcast" years later

Dogg returned again to her TV show in 2009 to make green colored brownies. Of course, Snoop was often referring to using marijuana in the recipe and Stewart loved joking back with the rapper. Years later, the two reunited on stage during the 2015 "Comedy Central Roast" of Justin Bieber. After the event, Snoop told "Today" about Stewart, "She sat next to me, and she stole the show. She was the funniest roaster that night. In that moment, I knew I wanted to be alongside this lady for the rest of my life." 

Luckily, the rapper and businesswoman stayed connected and a year later they became co-hosts of the VH1 variety show "Martha & Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party." "I've never met anyone like Martha Stewart," Snoop told Rolling Stone. "When we come together, it's a natural combination of love, peace and harmony," he said about Stewart.

How Martha Stewart thrived during quarantine

When the COVID-19 pandemic restricted many people to their homes, Martha Stewart reminded fans that the aspirational image she built her empire on is really what her day-to-day life is like. "I live in a beautiful place, and to see a sunset and the sunrise, to hear the chickens making their noises and the peacocks screaming in the neighborhood — I'm lucky," she told Barnard College

Even Stewart, an expert in nearly everything in the home, learned a thing or two during quarantine. "This pandemic has really taught a lot of people new skills," she explained. For Stewart, she worked on baking sourdough bread. She also posted a photo on Instagram of herself swimming in her beautiful backyard pool. In addition to showing off her custom made pool, Stewart appeared glamorous in the selfie and made a sultry face. When ET asked Stewart if the shot was a thirst trap, the businesswoman didn't know what the term was, but after hearing the definition she confirmed the photo was "definitely a thirst trap."

Stewart spent her quarantine with her driver, housekeeper, and gardener, she shared on Instagram. More than sit back and sip Martha-ritas, Stewart stayed busy with maintaining her estate. "I've done so many projects at the farm, all the things I just kind of put off because I worked so hard at the office," she told Parade. In one of her most ambitious projects, "I redecorated my entire house!"

Here's how Martha Stewart began cooking

While she already knew how to cook from a young age, Martha Stewart turned her passion into a career after moving to Westport, Connecticut in 1972. She began a catering business out of her personal kitchen, per PBS. According to her website, she made all her recipes from scratch. Stewart sold homemade goods under the name Market Basket at a nearby Westport market and assembled local chefs to create various products for her brand. This also helped each cook become better through a bit of competition. "The willingness and ability for excellence is astonishing. The fact that we are profit oriented also helps," Stewart told The New York Times in 1977. The work was successful but it also came with some downsides. "I started an at-home catering business, which was extremely time-consuming," she recalled to People.

Even after she became popular with her own cooking show, "The Martha Stewart Show," the host always looked for opportunities to improve. When she would have another professional chef come on the show as a guest, she would take note of the techniques and use those later in her own cooking. "I have learned how to cook from the greatest chefs just by watching," she told Barnard College. For example, she learned how to make sushi by watching famous chef Nobu Matsuhisa of the Nobu restaurant empire. "I have a vast knowledge of lots and lots of different things, just by learning from the experts," Stewart said.

Martha Stewart's mighty pen

With a thriving catering business in Connecticut, Martha Stewart looked to expand her audience by giving advice to others. She attended lavish parties as a caterer and wanted to detail what it took to host such spectacular events. "I couldn't find a good book about entertaining in 1982 and neither could my friend, so I decided to write it," Stewart told NPR. This became her debut book, "Entertaining." As Stewart described it, "the first book really was kind of an entertaining textbook for the homemaker."

Not only did she use photos from the parties from her catering days, Stewart met publishers who helped her land the book deal, per the Academy of Achievement. "Entertaining" was a huge success and became the bestselling cookbook since Julia Child's book "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." Stewart became a prolific writer, releasing many books about cooking, hosting parties, and nearly every other subject about home skills.

In 2022, Stewart revealed she was in the process of writing her 100th book. The businesswoman said she reached the impressive milestone "because I've had help along the way, but I've been writing books on various subjects all relating to living," per "The Martha Podcast." According to Stewart, one of the most difficult parts of every book is getting the accompanying photos just right. For her 100th book, she wanted it to be her first autobiography. "It'll be my most personal book – I have a lot of stories," she told People.

Martha Stewart pursued higher education

After graduating high school in New Jersey, Martha Stewart set her sights on bigger things and went to Barnard College in New York City. She was open to studying many things and revealed that originally, "I always thought I would be a teacher," she told Seventeen. Stewart won a partial scholarship to the all-women's college for her straight-A's throughout high school, the Academy of Achievement explained. 

"I had no idea when I went to college what I'd be doing. I took organic chemistry and did terribly, but I was good in English and art," Stewart revealed to Seventeen. After this, Stewart became a double major in history and architectural history. Prior to graduation, Stewart took a year off after marrying her ex-husband Andrew Stewart. Reflecting on her education in New York City, Stewart is proud of her choice to attend the school. "My Barnard education has been one of the most important foundations in my life because it taught me how to learn," Stewart said in an interview with the school. She credited the professors for expanding her knowledge and said she also learned how to then teach others, which Stewart would then make her career out of.

There is a long tradition in the Stewart family tree attending Barnard College, "and the education we all received there has helped us tremendously in the rest of our lives," Stewart said. Stewart's daughter Alexis continued the family legacy and graduated from the college.

Her surprising side job while in college

Starting when she was 13 years old, Martha Stewart began to model as a way of making money. At the time, her neighbors said Stewart was pretty enough to become a model. "I signed with Ford Models and was immediately signed up for TV commercials. I was the all-American girl," Stewart told People. Her tall and skinny frame was perfect for modeling — she is 5'9" tall. The modeling gigs paid serious money too for a young woman, with Stewart earning $50 an hour from some of the biggest names in fashion like Chanel, per Vogue.

Stewart continued modeling throughout high school and also when she attended Barnard College. Stewart gained national recognition thanks to Glamour naming her on the Best-Dressed College Girls in the country in 1961. Additionally, Stewart worked a side job as a pitchwoman, or advertiser, for cigarette and shampoo brands, People recapped. As for modeling, she stopped after giving birth to her daughter Alexis in 1965, according to the Academy of Achievement.

Looking back, Stewart recalled that she was never fully confident in her look as a model, even though she was successful at it. "I was not provocative. That feeling never came. It still hasn't come. I'm waiting for that day," she told People. Stewart also explained that the modeling culture didn't always fit with her values. She recalled how models and photographers would often sleep with one another but, "I never did any of that."

There have been a lot of tragedies surrounding her animals

Pets have always been part of Martha Stewart's family. In 2017, her pets included a Chow Chow called Genghis Khan and two French bulldogs, Sharkey and Francesca, Architectural Digest reported. Prior, Stewart had other Chow Chows called Paw Paw, Max, and Zu Zu. Both bulldogs often appeared on Stewart's TV and she even created a blog for the two dogs called "The Daily Wag," according to her website. After Sharkey died, Stewart welcomed French bulldogs with appropriately French names Bête Noire and Crème Brûlée to her family.

Somedays, Stewart couldn't even keep count of all her house pets. "I have four or five cats running around, and dogs," she told The Wall Street Journal. This mixture of cats and dogs turned out to be a bad idea on one fateful day when her dogs attacked Stewart's cat Princess Peony "and killed her defenseless little self. i will miss her very badly," Stewart posted to Instagram. She later posted a portrait of Princess Peony to Instagram.

Tragically, this wasn't the only time where Stewart lost some of her animals. In one of her residences, she owned six peacocks including one called Blue Boy. One day in 2022, coyotes came in the daytime and ate all six of the birds. Stewart posted a video of Blue Boy to Instagram and revealed that she added wire fencing to her property to help keep out any future attackers.

Martha Stewart engaged in illegal activities

At the start of the new millennium, Martha Stewart was busy making money through her entertainment empire but she was also involved in stock trading. Just after Christmas in 2001, she sold off nearly 4,000 shares she held in the pharmaceutical company ImClone Systems. The only problem was that she was friends with the company owner and appeared to receive an insider tip about bad company news. The day after dropping her shares, the company value plummeted. In 2004, a jury found Stewart guilty of charges for conspiracy, obstruction, and lying to federal investigators about her insider knowledge, per The Washington Post.

While she was serving time for her crime, Stewart wasted no time in improving her already impressive skill set. For example, the facility she stayed at in Alderson, West Virginia hosted a ceramics class. In the storage warehouse for the ceramic projects, Stewart discovered molds for a Christmas nativity scene. Since she was incarcerated after all, Stewart needed to save up in order to make each mold. "I was able to purchase enough clay with my monthly stipend," she told NPR. "I didn't get a lot of other things that I would have liked in that five-month period because I bought clay instead. And I molded the entire nativity scene," Stewart added.

In 2005, Stewart ended her five months in federal prison and finished out her sentence with five months of home confinement at her estate in Bedford, New York, History recapped.

Martha Stewart learned from her mom

Martha Stewart has always shared a special connection with her mom, Martha Kostyra. During hard times, like Stewart's divorce, she could confide in her mom, Kostyra told People. When Stewart went on trial for insider trading, Kostyra was almost always there for the proceedings, Los Angeles Times reported. She and her mom would usually see each other once a week for a family get-together. "I had developed a habit of having Mom over on Sunday. So after her church, she would come to my house. We'd have this healthy garden lunch," Stewart told The Wall Street Journal. Often, Stewart and her mom would also go to a friend's house for dinner and card games.

Sadly, Kostyra died from a stroke when she was 93. Stewart said those Sundays with her mom would be one of the hardest things to replace. Before her death, Stewart would often take care of her mom and began to collect lessons on successes she found in being both a child and caregiver at the same time. She then turned these findings into her own guide — "there are lots of books on how to invest your money, and do this and do that, but very little for the caregiver," Stewart said.

In honor of Mother's Day in 2022, Stewart posted a TikTok video with clips from her shows throughout the year with her mother, "Big Martha," as the guest. Kostyra often joked that Stewart learned everything she knew from her.

Life as a mom and grandma for Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart and her ex-husband Andy Stewart had their first and only child together in 1965, named Alexis, per Hollywood Life. Living in the shadow of her famous mom wasn't always easy for Alexis. She began taking medicine for chronic depression from a young age after her parents sent her to a psychiatrist. "I kept trying to suggest to my doctor I get off of it and then something horrible would happen, like my mother would go to prison, and it would be like, 'Not now,'" Alexis told New York Magazine.

Alexis followed in her mom's footsteps and became a TV show host. Except it wasn't in the same format as her mom's cooking program. Alexis and her co-host Jennifer Koppelman Hutt would watch videos of Stewart's old shows and provide commentary. The comedy series aired on Fine Living Network and was called "Whatever, Martha!" According to Stewart, the hosts "promised not to be mean, and I had to trust them," she told The New York Times. In fact, Stewart came up with the idea for the show.

When Alexis decided she wanted to have children, she, sadly, ran into fertility issues. Fortunately, her mom was supportive in paying for the various medical procedures and telling her to stay optimistic. "Because she wants grandchildren?" Oprah asked Alexis about her mom. "Desperately," Alexis said. Both women received their wishes and Stewart became a grandmother to Alexis' children Jude and Truman, per Today.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Martha Stewart had a surprising first career

After graduating college, Martha Stewart followed a more traditional path by working in the banking industry as opposed to entertainment. Her first job was trading as an institutional stockbroker on Wall Street in New York City. "The job taught me so much about what it takes to build a real business, a real company — a meaningful and useful enterprise," she wrote for her website

Not only did she thrive in the position but she did it at a time when she stood out among her peers. "I lasted in that business for about eight years, working in a firm of all men," she told People. "I had a very successful career in the stock market, and I sometimes regret not staying in that business, because becoming an investment banker would've been pretty fabulous," Stewart added. She left her brokerage firm during a recession in 1973, according to the Academy of Achievement, and is confident she made the right choice because it led her to start an empire. "It was not until I left Wall Street that I discovered my true entrepreneurial bent. I loved ideas. I loved building. I loved creating. I loved making things that would enhance everyday living. And I loved making money as a result," she wrote.

Years later, she would return to Wall Street but this time as CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. The company went public in 1999, The New Yorker reported.

Martha Stewart's love life

When she attended Barnard College in New York City, Martha Stewart remembered being a hot commodity around the city. "Boys from South America and Europe [with] big allowances," would try to court her, she told People in 1980. Stewart met her match with Andy Stewart who studied law at Yale University at the time. The two went on a blind date and Martha said she was charmed by Andy's "extremely serious" personality. She and Andy divorced after 19 years together.

At one point, she dated famous actor Anthony Hopkins. Stewart then broke it off because she couldn't separate the real man from his character Hannibal Lecter from his movie "The Silence of the Lambs." According to Stewart, "I have a big scary house in Maine ... and I couldn't even imagine taking Anthony Hopkins there," she said on "The Ellen Show." Stewart added, "all I could think of was him eating, you know," she said in reference to the character's cannibalistic tendencies. Stewart also once went on a date with Larry King in New York City. She thought it was to talk business, and while King showed interest in romance, Stewart didn't pursue anything. As she said on "Watch What Happens: Live," "he was not my type."

Stewart later linked up with Charles Simonyi, a billionaire software developer responsible for Microsoft Excel and Word, per Forbes. The two started dating in 1993 and were together for 15 years, according to W Magazine.

The charitable side of Martha Stewart

As she accumulated wealth from her expanding empire, Martha Stewart was often generous in giving back to others. One of her biggest achievements was founding The Martha Stewart Center for Living in 2006. This center within The Mount Sinai Hospital system in New York aimed at providing better primary care for older adults. "I see people in their 90's that are smiling and happy that they finally have a place to go where someone cares for them," Stewart told Forbes after donating $5 million to open the center. "It is very important to me that people feel cared for, feel nurtured. It's hard to say feel loved, but just cared for," she added. 

According to Stewart, she hoped her center would be a model for other hospitals around the country and her mission was "to create a prototypical system by which all Americans deal with the aging population." Stewart dedicated the center to her mom. The businesswoman said her mom would have been proud of the achievement because "she was a good example of growing old and being well," Stewart told WebMD.

Stewart continued to support her center after its opening, like when she hosted a charity event called the "Great American Tag Sale" at her sprawling farm and estate in Bedford, New York. She ultimately raised over $800,000 for her living center by selling everything from kitchenware to furniture to decorations from her impressive collection, Town and Country Magazine reported.

Here's how much Martha Stewart is really worth

Martha Stewart's first big step as a media mogul came in 1999 when her company Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia went public on the stock exchange. As a result, "I was the first self-made female billionaire," she told People. "I think I helped so many other women believe in their own ideas and their own business plans and their own paths to glory," Stewart said about her accomplishment. Though the company decreased in value over the years, Stewart still kept an impressive bank account all along. As of 2022, she was worth an estimated $400 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

More than owning a media company, Stewart also grew an impressive real estate portfolio. This included her original Turkey Hill farm in Connecticut and later a home in Manhattan, her website recapped. One of her most gorgeous residences was a picturesque home in the Hamptons. She bought the home in 1990 after deciding she wanted to renovate a weekend house with her eye for furnishing and decoration. "It was the oldest house on the block and a total wreck. I decided I had to have it," she said on her website. Stewart then opted to spend her summers on Mount Desert Island in Maine. She purchased an estate there, called Skylands, in 1997, per Architectural Digest.

In 2022, Stewart sold her place in the Hamptons for $16.5 million, almost twice the $8.4 million listing, according to Property Shark (via Mansion Global).