Her former fellow inmates also recalled her prison duties like scrubbing toilets
The new CNN miniseries, The Many Lives of Martha Stewart, explores all the ups and downs of the media mogul’s life. PEOPLE has an exclusive clip (above) of the final episode on Sunday, which sees Stewart's former inmates speak of their relationship with her during her five month sentence in 2004. (Stewart was found guilty on charges including conspiracy and obstruction of justice related to the sale of a stock.)
In the docuseries, Meg Phipps, a woman who was incarcerated at the same Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia, recounted a time when Stewart delivered her a sweet dessert in prison.
“How we communicated was by note, a handwritten note and someone from that cottage or dorm, you had to wait for someone to take that in for you,” she explained. One day, she received a note from Stewart, who suggested the two meet.
“She also sent that note with a baked apple, which meant she had already tackled the idea of cooking in your dorm or cottage by using the microwave and what resources that you could find — because the baked apple had caramel on it and probably some cinnamon,” said Phipps.
Sneaking food was prohibited, according to Phipps. “I suspect some of this may have come from the cafeteria, which we’re not supposed to do,” Phipps added.
Another former inmate, Susan Spry, who describes herself as the cookbook author’s “prison friend,” said that was really the only way to cook.
“Everyone smuggles food out of kitchens. I mean what else are you going to make? Unless it’s smuggled food,” Spry said, adding that she smuggled some herself under her arms.
During her time in prison, Spry said Stewart worked inside the administration building. “She kept it clean. She cleaned toilets. She cleaned the warden’s toilet,” she said.
Throughout the final episode, Elizabeth Walker, a former supervisory chaplain at Alderson, said she also swept floors and emptied trash. “She was very good. She did her job,” said Walker.
Of all her memories being around Stewart, Walker recalled her speech during a decorating contest for Christmas.
“[Stewart] read something she wrote about what peace is…and her hands are shaking, and I thought, ‘This is a woman who has had her own television shows.' She wanted to do a good job for the women she was with…that impressed me,” she said.
Spry remembered her first sight of the television chef when she just entered the prison and how she looked “forlorn.”
“I remember the first image I had of her and I said, ‘That can’t be Martha Stewart. It just can’t be.’ Whoever this woman was looked like us,” Spry said. “You still have to go through all the indignities of becoming a prisoner. I’m sure they strip searched her. Took away all her possessions. Gave her a uniform like the rest of us had.”
Her other former fellow inmate, Phipps, echoed the statement. “It’s a great equalizer. The women there are wide ranging from the homeless up to the wealthy,” she said.
The day Stewart left prison, Phipps said they had a potluck for her. To no surprise, Stewart made a dessert to bid farewell.
“We brought different dishes, but Martha did bring a caramel flan, and I don’t know how she made it,” Phipps said. “It’s a big part about what made prison tolerable is that fellowship of cooking and celebrating someone going home. She thanked people for making her time there go as well as it did.”
Spry also cherishes her kind words — and all these years later, is waiting to reunite.
“She said ‘I don’t think I had enough time with you girls’ and she said to me, ‘I will see you again.’ So I’m still waiting, but I know I’ll see her again,” she recalled through tears.
Aside from detailing Stewart's time in prison, the four, hour-long episodes, depict the cookbook author’s “explosive rise to success, her staggering fall from grace, and her momentous comeback to the limelight” via archival footage and interviews, per a release. Viewers hear from Stewart’s past employees, former inmates, fellow chefs and loved ones.
The first two episodes of The Many Lives of Martha Stewart are on demand now, and will replay on Saturday, Feb. 3 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CNN. The last two episodes will premiere on Sunday, Feb. 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
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