Martha Stewart, LIVING!
A hit homemaking bible, a billion-dollar lifestyle business, a stint in jail, and she’s not done yet. EW presents a timeline of Martha Stewart’ most iconic moments: the good, the bad… and the shady.
Stewart second-acted early, and hard. After attending school at Barnard, getting married, and becoming a model, full-time mom, and then stockbroker, she starts her own catering business at age 35.
Stewart publishes her first book on homemaking, Entertaining, after meeting book publisher Alan Mirken at a party she catered for her husband Andrew. It’s a hit, selling more than 625,000 copies.
Stewart’s husband leaves her for—drama— her assistant, and in the same year, she creates a line of affordable merch for Kmart, kicking off her home goods empire! That’s what we call revenge by success. (The two will divorce in 1990.)
The inaugural issue of Martha Stewart Living is published, with Stewart serving as editor-in-chief. In 2002, the magazine’s circulation peaks with more than 2 million copies per issue. With this, Stewart effectively invents the concept of putting yourself on the cover of your magazine. Oprah and Rachael Ray should remember their history.
Martha Stewart Living, Stewart’s half-hour, weekly TV program based on the eponymous magazine, premieres. Marth begins to coin iconic phrases like “That’s a good thing” and “tablescape.” In 1997, the show goes from every week to every weekday, and in 1999, grows into a full hourlong program.
1995: Cameos begin
Martha’s first guest spot is on Ellen. Somehow, Stewart (playing herself) is invited to Ellen’s house for Thanksgiving, and Ellen is stressed about making it perfect knowing that Martha will judge her if it’s not. Chaos and cornish hen-throwing ensue. The episode is stiff and awkward, but Stewart does say, “Have you ever thought to hand stencil this hallway?” which makes it all worth it.
1996: Martha Stewart becomes a character (Part 1)
Starting in December 1996, Saturday Night Live cast member Ana Gasteyer impersonates Stewart with a spot-on impression that adds creepy and vulgar twists to Stewart’s wholesome programming: Erotic cakes for Valentine’s Day or green copper kettles to aid public urination on St. Patrick’s Day… crafts your friends and family will really cherish.
In 1997, Stewart and business partner Sharon Patrick buy up all of her franchises in print, television, and retail to create the conglomerate Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO). October 1999 brings MSLO’s initial public offering, in which her shares doubled in one day. It’s one of the most successful IPOs ever, and Stewart becomes a billionaire on paper, the first female to ever do so in the U.S. Shes on top of the world! Nothing could go wrong!
Oh, but then it did. Unless you were recently defrosted from a cryogenic chamber, trapped in a cult, or “just disconnecting from technology,” you know what happened here. It’s not an iconic Yas queen! iconic moment as much as a totally infamous scandal kind of iconic. After a highly publicized trial, Stewart is convicted of lying to federal investigators about her insider trading of 3,928 ImClone stock shares in December 2001. She begins her five-month prison sentence at Alderson Federal Prison Camp in Alderson, West Virginia in October 2004.
May 2003: Martha Stewart becomes a character (Part 2)
In 2003, the TV movie Martha, Inc. (starring Cybill Shepherd) explores Stewart’s insider trading scandal. Then in 2005, another completely different TV movie about Stewart’s prison sentence comes out, called Martha Behind Bars. And it also stars Cybill Shepherd!
Only six months after her prison sentence ends in 2005, her daytime TV talk show Martha airs its first episode. Martha shows her ankle to the audience, claiming, “I’m unfettered, I am free. No ankle bracelet.”
September 21, 2005: The Apprentice: Martha Stewart
Stewart hosts this spin-off version of The Apprentice for one season. It doesn’t do well… but crazier things have happened to hosts of that show.
Stewart releases a new book, The Martha Rules, about starting and managing a business — a confident move from a woman who isn’t allowed to be CEO of a company because of her conspiracy conviction.
2006: Cameos continued
Stewart has certainly gotten better at these appearances as she has done more, the same way you get better at folding a fitted sheet the more times you crumple it into a ball and shove it in the linen closet. Stewart cameos on Ugly Betty as herself when Wilhelmina (Vanessa Williams) calls into her studio to ask her how to disembowel a turkey. Martha serves her usual sass.
2012: Two Broke Girls
Stewart plays herself again in the CBS comedy opposite Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs, who are trying to get her to sample their cupcakes. Imagine Martha saying, “You know who’d really like that cupcake? Stoners.” And then watch it here.
2012: Law & Order: SVU
This is one of Stewart’s only cameos where she’s playing an actual character. Here, she joins the echelon of stars who have SVU-ed as Eleanor Hastings, the headmistress of a girls’ school.
2015: The Roast of Justin Bieber
Apparently, Justin Bieber actually called Stewart and asked her to roast him at his Comedy Central special because he thought she would go easy on him. Bad idea. Rumors had always floated about Stewart’s penchant for swearing and her sense of humor. And boy, does she confirm them, briefly abandoning her warm, wholesome image to roast Bieber and beyond. “I believe the bedroom is the most important room in the house,” Stewart deadpans at the podium. “But, I don’t have to tell you that, Ludacris. You have three kids with three different women. May I suggest pulling out some time and finishing on some fine, highly absorbent bed linens?”
2016: Bad Moms
Stewart cameos as herself again for a party scene in Bad Moms, playing opposite Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Christina Applegate, and Kathryn Hahn. In the scene, she offers the moms Jell-O shots made from “bespoke lingonberry gelatin… and a s—load of vodka.”
November 2016: Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party
People are obsessed with Stewart’s friendship with rapper Snoop Dogg. They met during a 2008 episode of Martha, in which they hilariously made mashed potatoes together, and she admitted to getting a contact high from him smoking weed at Justin Bieber’s Roast. Season 1 of their VH1 show, wherein they cook for celebrity friends and make pot jokes, premieres in 2016 and gets nominated for eight Emmys.
June 2016: Martha finds out who Jonathan Cheban is
Thanks to the benevolent nexus of the universe (and the Daily Mail’s Seriously Popular party in Cannes) for allowing this cosmic meeting to happen. Stewart hilariously enlists the help of Twitter to identify a mystery man at her table at the event: Cheban. “#Seriouslypopular @DailyMail @MailOnline do you know this guy?? He says he is well known.” Many perceive the tweet as an undercut at Cheban, who is famous for being friends with the Kardashians. And it probably is. By investigating the matter to her fullest capabilities, Stewart performs a public service for those of us who also don’t know who Jonathan Cheban is—and secures her place in shade history.
2017: Martha gets it
An Instagram user posts this photo of Stewart seemingly (definitely) flipping the bird at Andres Serrano’s portrait of Donald Trump at the Frieze New York in May. She can also be seen giving a peace sign to her buddy Snoop Dogg’s painting on the right. That face. That pose. That mixed-denim look! Martha, keep on serving and spilling tea, roasting turkey, and roasting celebs.