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Martha Stewart

Martha StewartAKA Martha Helen Kostyra

Born: 3-Aug-1941
Birthplace: Jersey City, NJ

Gender: Female
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Business
Party Affiliation: Democratic

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Professional housekeeper, insider trader

Martha Kostyra's parents married when her mother discovered she was pregnant. Her father was always a domineering nitpicker, never satisfied with anything his children did, and her mother was a school teacher who was, by most reports, emotionally distant from her family. As a young girl, Martha had few friends and dedicated her efforts to school work, bringing home report cards full of A's. She earned a scholarship to Barnard College in New York City, where she worked as a model and married a law student, taking his name to become Martha Stewart. She quit modeling when she became pregnant, and later went into her father-in-law's line of work, as a stockbroker for five years. She was quite good at it, so Stewart would have known the ins and outs of insider trading laws.

In 1976, in partnership with a friend from college, Stewart started a catering business in her basement. The business became quite successful, and when her partner soured on working with the perfectionist Stewart, Stewart bought her out -- and the business became more successful. Stewart opened a retail store, where she sold her home entertainment kits. She co-authored a best-selling book, Entertaining, with long-time fashion maven Elizabeth Hawes. She started popping up on TV chat shows with tips for harried housewives. And while Stewart was showing America how to make autumn leaves and an old hanky into a lovely lampshade, her husband had an affair with one of her employees. The Stewarts divorced, and he married the employee. Meanwhile, Martha Stewart's business continued booming.

In 1991 she started her magazine, Martha Stewart Living. Business experts said it couldn't possibly compete with the established women's magazines, but of course, it was a hit. In 1993 she started her own television show, Martha Stewart Living, and insiders were not sure it would work, but of course it was enormously profitable. Like Henry Ford had perfected the assembly line, Stewart had perfected cross-promotion. Her show pushed her magazine, her magazine advertised her Martha Stewart branded wares for sale at K-Mart, and her appearances on talk shows brought viewers to her own show. As this cycle repeated, Stewart made more and more money, and of course she became a recurring punchline of jokes about anal perfection.

In 2002, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that Martha Stewart was under investigation for insider trading. She had sold 3,928 shares of ImClone Systems in December 2001, just before the Food & Drug Administration announced that it was scuttling ImClone's application to sell a new so-called wonder drug. It looked like classic insider trading, and it probably was, but oddly the feds never proved this in court, or even tried to prove it. Instead, they charged Stewart with four crimes (conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and two counts of making false statements to federal agents), all stemming from her conversations with investigators. A jury found her guilty, and she was sentenced to five months in prison. Under federal law, it is a crime to lie to a federal agent. And to be found guilty of lying to feds, you do not have to have taken an oath. The conversation does not have to be taped, and witnesses are optional.

After her conviction, Stewart resigned as CEO of Martha Stewart Omnimedia, and MSO stock crashed like 1929. Of her impending prison term, Stewart said, "I could do it... I'm a really good camper. I can sleep on the ground. There are many, many good people who have gone to prison. Look at Nelson Mandela." Condsiderable flack was generated by her comparison of her plight to Mandela's. Upon her release from prison, Stewart resumed control of her companies, albeit under house arrest. Whether she can make her businesses fantastically profitable again is an open question.

Father: Edward Kostyra (pharmaceuticals salesman)
Mother: Martha Ruszowski (school teacher, d. 16-Nov-2007)
Brother: Eddie Kostyra Jr.
Husband: Andrew Stewart (lawyer, m. 1-Jul-1961, div. 1989)
Daughter: Alexis Stewart ("Lexi", radio personality, b. 27-Sep-1965)
Boyfriend: Anthony Hopkins (actor, together 2001-02)
Boyfriend: Charles Simonyi (computer programmer, together since 2006)

    High School: Nutley High School, Nutley, NJ
    University: Barnard College

    Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Founder
    SiriusXM Martha Stewart Living Radio (2006-)
    Macy's Martha Stewart Collection (2007)
    Endorsement of K-Mart
    Academy of Achievement (1995)
    Bill Bradley for President
    Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
    Gore 2000
    Hillary Clinton for President
    Hillary Rodham Clinton for US Senate Committee
    Obama Victory Fund 2012
    House Arrest 4-Mar-2004
    Conspiracy (to commit perjury) convicted 5-Mar-2004
    Insider Trading (civil suit, filed by SEC on 4-Jun-2003)
    Obstruction of Justice convicted 5-Mar-2004
    Making False Statements convicted 5-Mar-2004
    Securities Fraud (insider trading) charge dismissed
    Inmate: Alderson Federal Prison Camp (2004-05)
    Hip Replacement Surgery (Jun-2007)
    Funeral: Nora Ephron (2012)
    Polish Ancestry
    Risk Factors: Yoga

    The Early Show
    Martha Stewart: The Apprentice (2005)

    Bad Moms (28-Jul-2016)
    Pixels (17-Apr-2015)
    The Great Buck Howard (18-Jan-2008) · Herself
    Men in Black II (26-Jun-2002) · Herself
    Big Trouble (2-Apr-2002) · Herself

Official Website:

Rotten Library Page:
Martha Stewart

Appears in articles:
Time, 9-Feb-2004, DETAILS: Why is Martha Smiling? (p.50, two thirds of a page), BYLINE: Simon Crittle
Time, 16-Feb-2004, DETAILS: "Baby Put Ms. Martha in Her Place!" -- The prosecution's star witness spices up the trial of the domestic diva. Will Martha take the stand to refute him? (p.48, two pages), BYLINE: Simon Crittle

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