Stewart grew her catering business and built a reputation as an expert in entertaining. Her first book, Entertaining, was a huge success and soon led to television appearances, more books, and a gig as Kmart spokesperson in 1987.
In 1990, Martha Stewart Living magazine launched and Martha Stewart Weddings was published. The same year, Martha divorced her husband Andrew.
A few years later, Stewart got her own syndicated TV show and launched a line of home products.
Martha Stewart Omnimedia:
Martha Stewart became one of the country’s wealthiest women when Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia went public in 1999 at the height of dot-com mania. Stewart herself became omnipresent — she was everywhere with her napkin-folding tips and ambrosia salad recipes.
She also faced some backlash. Unauthorized bios and tabloids published accounts of her control issues and comedians mocked her obsession with doilies.
Martha Stewart On Trial:
In 2002, Martha Stewart was investigated for alleged insider trading for selling shares of ImClone Systems just before an FDA announcement sent the stock price into a free-fall of over 70%. She avoided losing more than $45,000 through the sale of that stock.
A federal grand jury in Manhattan indicted Stewart and her former broker Peter Bacanovic on nine criminal counts. Stewart was not indicted for insider trading — only for the cover-up. She maintained her innocence, but resigned as CEO and chairman of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.
Martha Stewart Goes to Jail:
The trial was a NYC media circus. Stewart was eventually found guilty on all four counts against her. She was sentenced to five months in prison, five months of home confinement, and two years probation.
At a press conference, Stewart announced her desire to start serving her sentence immediately. She reported to minimum-security Alderson Federal Prison Camp in Alderson, West Virginia on October 8. Stewart reportedly made friends with her fellow inmates and kept her cell immaculate.
Martha Stewart on the Comeback Trail:
Stewart was released in March 2005 — looking fit and trim as she boarded a private jet in a stylish poncho. She left jail for five months under house arrest at her home in Bedford, NY. She can leave her home to conduct business, but only while wearing an ankle bracelet that moniors her movements.
Despite the ankle bracelet, Stewart hasn’t missed a beat since her release. She’s back in charge at her magazine, re-launching her TV show and expanding her line of home products.
Martha Stewart on The Apprentice:
Martha created a major buzz in February 2005 when she announced that she will appear in a new version of The Apprentice, to be produced by reality TV evil genius Mark Burnett. Contestants will compete in tasks focused on home decorating, entertaining, and merchandising. The winner will land a job at Martha Stewart Omnimedia. The show is scheduled to air in the fall on NBC.