The Best Throwback Photos of Martha Stewart
Martha's journey on the way to becoming a lifestyle mogul has been picture-perfect—from her days as a student-turned-model to her very first cookbook. Here, we share some of the best memories of Martha's early years, including rare snapshots of our founder before she graced televisions across America.
Many people don't realize that Martha wasn't always considering a career in media—after all, she majored in history as a student at Barnard College in New York City. At first, Martha launched her career by working as an institutional stockbroker on Wall Street: "The job taught me so much about what it takes to build a real business, a real company—a meaningful and useful enterprise," Martha recalled in a feature story about her life's work. But Martha also had plenty of experience in front of the camera by that time. Our founder had modeled during college, and there's plenty of glamorous (and fun!) photographs showcasing just how comfortable she was on set.
Martha's journey to launching her own media company isn't what many would consider conventional. She eventually left Wall Street; but not before she got married in the early 1960s and gave birth to her daughter, Alexis, in 1965. Before she ever dreamed of publishing cookbooks, Martha told Entrepreneur magazine that she first studied Italian, German, and French cuisine while on a modeling assignment in Europe in the early '60s. Her interest in cooking quickly turned into a passion, and she eventually founded a catering company out of the basement of her now famous Turkey Hill home in Westport, Connecticut. In a recent interview with Barney's, Martha shared that the recipes she developed as a caterer would eventually be featured in her very first cookbook, Entertaining, in 1982.
From her youth to opening a catering company and forming what's now known as Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, we're sharing the greatest photographs of Martha along the way.
Here, Big Martha hoists our founder onto her hip. Martha was born into the Kostyra family in 1941. She has shared that Big Martha inspired her throughout her life; in 1983, she dedicated the Martha Stewart's Quick Cook cookbook to Big Martha. "To my mother, Martha Kostyra, and her mother, my early teachers," the dedication reads.
Martha has previously shared this family photo with Living editors: It shows her entire family sitting for a formal photograph, including her five siblings and parents, Edward and Martha Kostyra.
Easter in Central Park
Holidays were always celebrated to much fanfare in the Kostyra family. "When I was growing up, my family celebrated every holiday with great enthusiasm," Martha recalls. "For Easter, we would dress up, go to church, and then venture off on an excursion. When I was about 3 years old, my parents took me rowing in New York City's Central Park. To this day, I love sharing the joy of special occasions with family and friends."
"I love this photo, taken by my father when I was about six years old with his old Rolleiflex camera in natural light," she says. "As a small girl, I often cut flowers from our garden to make arrangements for my mother. I still look forward to putting together different combinations every spring."
Martha's First Job
Martha told Living editors that she began modeling professionally in high school; eventually, she would appear in fashion editorials and fashion shows.
Martha also appeared in advertising campaigns throughout her 20s. She modeled for brands such as Breck, Clairol, and Lifebuoy Soap, our founder has said.
Fashion on the Farm
"During my modeling days, we didn't have a team of stylists for photo shoots. I had to do my hair myself," Martha says in this guide to recreating her iconic hairstyles.
Working Nine to Five
"After college, I got a job on Wall Street where I became an institutional stockbroker," Martha writes in this biographical piece.
On Her Honeymoon
Our founder has always enjoyed traveling, and this snapshot was captured on July 2, 1961 during her honeymoon in the beautiful Vermont countryside. "What a long, long time ago this was! I was carefree and happy on the first day of my honeymoon, wearing a linen sheath I made for the trip," she reminisces. "We drove through beautiful Vermont in our yellow Mercedes-Benz 190. I still love to head out for a drive and explore. You never know what you'll discover."
"Boating has been a favorite pastime of mine ever since I was a newlywed," says Martha, recalling her days on the open seas as pictured in this snapshot circa 1970. "Whether I'm navigating a small Laser, a 40-foot sloop, or a 200-foot yacht, the joy of the open sea, the brisk breezes, and the beauty of it all lure me back again and again."
After leaving Wall Street, Martha and Andrew bought property in Westport, Connecticut, and the home that would eventually become known as Turkey Hill. Here, Martha stands in her kitchen, a scene that would later be featured in her 1982 Entertaining guide.
"My assistant found this great photo of me in my library at Turkey Hill," Martha shares on Instagram.
"One of the very first things I did when we moved to our first home, Turkey Hill, was to build a chicken coop and populate it with a delightful assortment of laying hens," recalls Martha of this snapshot taken in 1972. "I called this effort 'backyard animal husbandry,' and it helped start a nationwide trend for homegrown poultry and eggs."
Becoming a Mother
Raising a Gaggle
Eventually, Martha expanded her menagerie. "Years ago at Turkey Hill, I raised these beautiful gray geese from eggs," recalls Martha of this snapshot taken in August 1976. "They were interesting and taught me a lot. They, and the chickens and turkeys I nurtured, infused in me a love of sustainable, organic, and carefully raised poultry and eggs. Today on my farm in Bedford, I have geese from five different countries, and they continue to do the same."
"I have such fond memories of when this photo was taken," Martha recalls of this snapshot from 1978. "I was learning to bake in our 1805 farmhouse's beehive oven, which was fired with wood. After much trial and error, I successfully made many delicious breads, pizzas, roasts, and even pies in it to share with family and friends."
Cooking Up a Storm
Martha eventually left Wall Street to chase another dream: opening her catering business. "I've always loved teaching," Martha says of this candid, circa 1980. "Even when I was running a busy catering business, I liked hosting small cooking seminars in my professional kitchen in Westport, Connecticut. My audience has certainly grown, thanks to television, publishing, and the internet, but years later it still brings me so much joy."
Martha's First Book
Martha first published Entertaining in 1982, and the book became instantly popular before launching Martha into the mediasphere. "[This is] the original cover of Entertaining; the table is set with my grandmother's china, my mother-in-law's silver, 'Depression' glass goblets, and garden poppies," Martha told Living editors.
While cooking is a major part of Martha's approach to homemaking, our founder has become synonymous with a golden standard in all areas of your home.
"This photo was taken more than three decades ago in my vegetable garden at Turkey Hill," Martha says of this snapshot, circa summer 1988. "But the same shot could easily have been snapped this morning, when I was outside on my farm in Bedford, transplanting broccoli. Once a gardener, always a gardener."
The Launch of Living
Martha first launched Living in the holiday season of December 1990. "By 1990, I was the 49-year-old mother of a grown daughter, a divorcée, and I knew that I was onto something big," Martha writes in this post about her journey. "I've been dubbed a 'late bloomer,' and I love the moniker. I published the first issue of Martha Stewart Living that year, and have been pursuing my dreams ever since."
"When we started the magazine, we knew we wanted to cover the holidays in a big way," she recalls of this photograph taken in the fall of 1993. "Over the years, we've handcrafted many different wreaths out of natural materials, like this one with viburnum berries and crab apples. Thirty years later, we are still dreaming up ways to make this time of year special."
Traveling Around the World
Here, Martha is pictured hiking in the beautiful Zion National Park while on a trip with Alexis for her 50th birthday—she writes that "Alexis and I love visiting these 'shrines' to nature."
Gracing the Small Screen
Martha later turned Living's success into her first television series, the Martha Stewart Living program, which launched in 1993.
Winner Takes All
Here's Martha accepting some of the first of her many awards—she's won nine Emmy awards since 1995 and has been nominated 18 times in the daytime category, according to IMDb.
Trying the Local Cuisine
"In 1996, a group of us from Living went to Marfa, Texas, to visit and photograph the extraordinary museum, landscape, and town that the artist Donald Judd helped expand in western Texas," she recalls of this snapshot. "We savored not only the art, but also the food of the region. Here I am carrying dessert buñuelos—fried dough in the shape of baskets—that we made and filled with ice cream. They were delicious. It was an extraordinary visit!"
"My original idea was that living is limitless," she once said in the February 1998 issue of Living. "It could be expanded and expounded upon, enlarged and extolled. Thirty years later, our mission still holds true: Making your life better every day is our goal."
A New Dawn
A the turn of the millennium, Martha embarked on a New Year's trek. "I invited a group of friends to my house on Mount Desert Island, in Maine, to celebrate the fin de siècle," she recalls. "Some believe that the sun first touches the United States at the easternmost point of the island, so we hiked there before dawn on January 1, 2000, to catch the earliest rays of the morning and welcome the new century. What fun we had! I'll never forget it."
That mission includes all special occasions. If you asked Martha what is her favorite holiday, one comes to mind: "I've always loved Halloween. I can't remember a year when I did not dress up in a costume—like this unique and ghostly equestrienne—or a fun, prankish outfit to cover up my true identity," she says of this costume featured in the Living October 2009 issue. "That's what the holiday is for me: a time of lighthearted scariness and mystery."
Speaking of guests, Martha has hosted quite the cast of individuals on her television shows over the years. Here, she poses with actress and entrepreneur Jennifer Garner.
Cooking with Julia Child
Martha even hosted Julia Child, the spunky, all-American chef known for making French cuisine accessible to gourmet and home cooks around the globe with Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Our founder has also worked with Alice Waters, the face of farm-to-table cuisine, and Diana Kennedy, long associated with quintessential Mexican cuisine.
They're the best of friends now, but believe it or not, Snoop and Martha's friendship emerged out of a bowl of mashed potatoes when he appeared on the Martha show back in 2008. "Yeah, we were odd," Snoop shared in a recent Today interview. "But we fit right in. You know, cooking with Martha just seemed like the right space to be in."
The Next Generation
If a year in quarantine has taught us (and Martha) anything, it's that family is all important. "My colleague and our dear friend, Kevin Sharkey, took this photo of my daughter, Alexis, and her two young children and me seven years ago," says Martha of this snapshot taken in September 2014. "It's hard to believe that the kids are now 10 and 9, and way too tall and heavy to carry on our shoulders. They've added so much joy to our lives and have greatly enriched our every day. Mother's Day is always special for me. I hope you can celebrate it with your family!"