Martha Joan Hart (née Patterson) (October 31, 1966) is a Canadian philanthropist and researcher who is the widow of professional wrestler Owen Hart. After her husband's death in an accident at a WWF event, Hart sued the World Wrestling Federation. She later wrote a bestselling book about her husband's life and founded a charity in his name. She has subsequently been involved in several legal cases involving her husband's image and has worked as a philanthropist and researcher.
Hart was born Martha Patterson in 1966, and is the youngest of 11 children. Her mother, Joan, had battled breast cancer before Hart and her sister Virgina were born; her father left her mother when Martha was young. According to her book, she has bachelor's and master's degrees in psychology, and was pursuing a second degree in Sociology. She met her husband, Owen Hart, in 1982, while they were both still in high school. She attended a Stampede Wrestling event with a friend, and met Owen after recognizing him as one of the wrestlers who attended her school for a wrestling practice. She later stated that it was love at first sight and their relationship was a dream come true. They married on July 1, 1989, and had two children together: Oje Edward Hart (born March 5, 1992) and Athena Christie/Christy Hart (born September 23, 1995). Owen died while performing a stunt on May 23, 1999 at the World Wrestling Federation (WWF)'s Over the Edge pay-per-view.
Three weeks after Owen's death, Hart and the Hart family launched a wrongful death lawsuit against the WWF, which was settled out of court for approximately $18 million on November 2, 2000. She used the funds to establish the Owen Hart Foundation. She has managed the foundation since 1999. Some of the money also went into trust funds for her children, until they were 21. After the lawsuit, Martha separated herself from the majority of the Hart family. She cites Bret, Keith, Alison, Stu, and Helen Hart as the only Hart family members who sided with her during the battle. She criticised those family members who continued to work for the WWF.
There is real-life tension between Martha and her sister-in-law Diana Hart-Smith. Martha sued Diana for $19 million and claims that Diana's book, Under the Mat: Inside Wrestling's Greatest Family, is both slanderous and libelous, and had it removed from markets, and everywhere books are sold.
In 2002, she started writing a book entitled Broken Harts: The Life and Death of Owen Hart that was released in 2004, which is about their life together from when they met in High School, and the life they created for their 2 children.
Owen Hart Foundation
In December 2000, she announced the opening of the Owen Hart Foundation; a Charity to help get college scholarships for children who have special needs. For the first three charity events it was for the YouVille Women's Residence for abused women. Every May, Martha hosts a Charity Foundation with a guest star; in recent years, guest stars have included, Bob Newhart, Neil Sedaka, Paul Anka, Bill Cosby, Howie Mandel, and Jerry Seinfeld. Martha has stated that she started the Owen Hart Foundation because she knew Owen would be happy that he was helping people in his name, especially in the education field.