A new documentary about Martha Stewart comes to Netflix soon and will highlight the star’s childhood in New Jersey. The project, directed by R.J. Cutler, was recently picked up by Netflix after being shopped around for a network or streaming channel. Read on to learn more about the documentary and more about the role Jersey City played in Martha Stewart’s life.
(Photo credit: @marthastewart48)
What We Know About the Documentary
First reported by Variety, the documentary “will foreseeably follow Stewart’s early life in Jersey City as a babysitter to famed New York Yankees players Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra (legend has it some of her first-ever party-planning gigs were for their kids), to teen model and eventual media titan.”
Variety also says, “The massive growth of her Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia empire and 2004 prison stint for insider trading will also presumably be on the table.”
The documentary will be directed and produced by Oscar-nominated director R. J. Cutler who recently directed Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry. Other producers include Trevor Smith, Jane Cha Cutler, and Alina Cho, and will be executive produced by Elise Pearlstein from Industrial Media’s This Machine label. A release date for the documentary has not been announced yet.
About Martha’s Childhood in Jersey City
The TV personality, née Martha Helen Kostyra, was born in Jersey City on August 3, 1941, at Margaret Hague Hospital. She was the daughter of Edward “Eddie” Kostyra and Martha Ruszkowski Kostyra (“Big Martha” a.k.a. Martha’s cooking coach) and sister to five siblings: Laura Plimpton, Frank Kostyra, Kathryn Evans, George Christiansen, and Eric Scott.
Her grandparents, Franz Kostyra and Helen Kostyra, both of Polish descent, moved to Jersey City in 1920 where Stewart’s grandfather opened a butcher shop and also purchased a local bar and renamed it Kostyra’s Tavern. Fun fact: Anthony and Agnes Brazicki took over the bar, located at 153 Liberty Avenue, in 1945 and renamed it Brazicki’s Tavern. The Tavern shut down in September 2017 after 72 years in business.
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Four months after Martha was born, World War II began and at that time, her father, who previously worked for the Jersey City School District as a gym teacher, changed jobs to work on the docks at the shipyard in New Jersey. “Financially, it was a difficult time for the Kostyras. With two small children, Edward’s meager salary barely covered the rent on a tiny second-floor walkup where there was no porch and no room for a garden,” biographer Joann F. Price wrote in Martha Stewart: A Biography.
Stewart spent her first few years of life being raised in The Heights at 33 Stagg Street “on the second floor.” In August 2018, the Food Network star paid a visit to the home that has a special place in her heart and captured the moment on film.
“Guess what! I am working on a Food Network special in Jersey City and I took a bit of time to visit 33 Stagg Street Which was the first house I lived in with my older brother Erik and my mother and father House has been resided in vinyl and is brown instead of white We lived on the second floor,” she posted on her Instagram.
Martha in New Jersey
(Photo credit: @marthastewart48)
The Stewarts moved to 86 Elm Place in Nutley, New Jersey when Martha was 3 years old. Another fun fact: Martha’s recently announced skincare line, 86 Elm, was named after her childhood street! A few years later, at the mere age of 10, she began her first job as a babysitter for the children of some of the New York Yankees stars, including Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Gil McDougald. She also began modeling and appearing in commercials, advertisements, and magazines as a teenager.
The aspiring model at the time left the Garden State to go to college in New York City after graduating high school in 1959. While attending Nutley High School, she participated in various activities such as the Art Club, Latin Club, Future Nurses of America, and the bowling club (see her Yearbook photo here).
No matter how famous Stewart has become and how wealthy she’s become – her net worth is estimated to be $400 million – she’ll always look back at her childhood roots.
“I’ve always remembered my youth with great fondness,” Stewart said during her induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in October 2019 that took place at Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park.
It was there that she brought up a piece of her childhood that fans may not know. “She once trapped and skinned local muskrats and sold the pelts (which grosses her out now),” according to NJ.com.
For a list of other celebrities born in Jersey City, click this link.