Watch Martha's First Television Commercial, Which Aired When She Was Just 15
Before she was America's most beloved hostess, Martha was an ambitious teenager who knew the value of earning her own money. To do so, she babysat and took up modeling, booking her first jobs when she was still in high school. And while we've heard about the jobs she held while living in New York City as a student at Barnard College—including walking down fashion runways and shooting various campaigns with Breck, Clairol, and Lifebuoy Soap—we haven't yet watched video footage of her in action. Until now, that is.
A new post from Martha Moments, an Instagram fan page dedicated to our founder, shows a 15-year-old Martha in her very first television advertisement for Lifebuoy; shot in 1956, the clip promoted a fresh, spicy soap bar for "busy, active people" and captured a shorts-clad Martha working outdoors, pushing a wheelbarrow and then posing with her on-screen husband. In the context of the rest of her career—which explored all things homekeeping, gardening included—this small-screen debut couldn't be more fitting.
Our favorite part of the clip: The second-to-last shot, which shows a smiling, laughing Martha up close, her hair blowing in the wind. As for how Martha got her start in the modeling sphere? The family living next door to her Nutley, New Jersey, childhood home encouraged her to give it a try. "My neighbor, a beautiful ballerina, was modeling for Stuart Models, and she had a contract," our founder explained in a recent interview with People. "Her parents said to me, 'Martha, you're so pretty. You should be modeling also.' So I did."
Shortly thereafter, she began working under the Ford Models agency and immediately signed up for TV commercials, she said. "I was the all-American girl," she continued. "I played married parts when I was 16 years old." And while Martha may have pivoted her path, heading to Wall Street first before launching her catering business and ensuing media empire, it's very clear that she still knows how to work the camera—last year's viral pool selfie surely proves that.