Martha Stewart celebrates 71st birthday

By Julianne Ishler,

Martha Stewart is an American television personality, writer, and entrepreneur. She rose to fame with her books on home decorating, cooking, and entertaining, and her title as CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Due to charges related to insider trading of which she was found guilty, Stewart resigned from her position as CEO but later rejoined as the chairman once again in 2012.

Stewart was born August 3, 1941 in Jersey City, New Jersey. She was involved in fashion shows and TV and print advertisements at an early age. Stewart attended Barnard College where she earned her degree in European and architectural history in 1962. It was at Barnard College she met her first husband, Andy Stewart, who was a Yale law student. The two married in 1961, and welcomed their daughter, Alexis Stewart, six years later.

Stewart first launched her career by reading and training herself through Julia Child’s book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She began a catering business in the 1970s, which grew into a $1 million business through catering gourmet, unique menus to corporate and celebrity clients.

After this success, Stewart published her first book, Entertaining, which grew immensely popular. She quickly produced more books relating to cooking, entertaining, and even wedding planning. She simultaneously released her own magazine, Martha Stewart Living, under her new corporation Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. Her success also scored her a talk show, a radio show, and a newspaper column, which totaled $763 million in annual retail sales.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Stewart. Soon after she rose to fame, her husband divorced her after a three-year separation. In 2002, rumors surfaced about her being involved in insider trading. She was under investigation for selling shares of ImClone Systems just before the FDA’s refusal to approve the company’s new cancer drug. She resigned from the board of directors of the New York Stock Exchange during the investigation. One year later, Stewart was charged with securities fraud, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and giving false statements to the FBI. Though she pleaded innocent to the 41-page indictment charging her with criminal action, she was found guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and two counts of giving false statements. She was sentenced to prison for five months, followed by two years of supervised release,five months of which she served under house arrest.

Upon her release from prison, NBC announced she was to host two new talk shows, yet they failed to attract enough viewers. In 2012, Stewart took on the title of CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia once again, and launched a new series on PBS, Martha Stewart’s Cooking School.

Stewart is once again making recent headlines for a contract dispute with Macy’s, who sued MSLO and J.C. Penney over their plan to open a Martha Stewart brand inside J.C. Penney stores.

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