President Donald J. Trump is one of the world's biggest celebrities. Even before defeating Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential contest, his opinions echoed around the world. They say, though, that behind every great man is an even greater woman. While Donald Trump no longer is married to Ivana Trump, many credit his success to her. She also remains a constant in Donald Trump's life, as the mother of some of his children and a big supporter of his political success.
Let's learn a little bit about the glamorous Ivana Trump.
Ivana Trump was born Ivana Marie Zelníčková on 20 February 1949, daughter of Miloš Zelníček and Marie Francová. She is from the Moravian town of Zlin, which at that time was in Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic). Zlin is famous as the home of the Bata Shoes company. The founder of that company, Tomáš Baťa, believed in a very egalitarian social structure which granted prosperity to the entire town. Today, the company remains strong. The town, incidentally, was briefly renamed Gottwaldov in the late 1940s right before Ivana was born, but already had reverted to Zlin right before her birth. That is all a bit confusing if you start looking this stuff up, but I know, it's petty detail otherwise. However, the main point is that the country was in flux at the time, with the Communists making all sorts of changes.
|The 1970s were a lot of fun.|
One thing that was not in flux was the local sport. Ivana loved to ski from an early age. While attending Charles University in Prague, she specialized in the downhill and the slalom. There is some confusion about whether Ivana was chosen as an alternate on the official Czechoslovakian ski team for the 1972 Winter Olympics. This is widely reported, but the Czechoslovakian Olympic Committee later denied it.
|At the bar of Studio 54 during Lorna Luft's 25th birthday celebration.|
Besides skiing, Ivana also developed a taste for real estate men. She married real estate agent Alfred Winklmayr in 1971, and divorced him in 1973. Afterward, she moved to Montreal, Canada to live with an old friend, George Syrovatka. There, she modeled and studied English.
|With Barbra Walters.|
Ivana's modelling work took her to New York City in the mid-70s. There, she met Donald J. Trump, the son of Fred Trump, a top real estate developer in Queens. They were married on 7 April 1977.
Ivana and Donald had three children:
- Donald John Jr. (born December 31, 1977)
- Ivanka Marie (born October 30, 1981)
- Eric Fredrick (born January 6, 1984)
Donald Jr. speaks fluent Czech, and Ivanka (notice that her middle name also is similar to her mother's) knows a little bit. Eric does not know Czech because Ivana had become more fluent in English by the time he was little. Ivana now has eight grandchildren.
Ivana took an interest in Donald Trump's real estate ventures. She had a talent for interior design, so she became the Vice President of Interior Design for the Trump Organization.
|1980s, with clowns.|
Ivana became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1988, sponsored by Donald.
Ivana was instrumental in the development of The Trump Organization's Atlantic City properties, which blossomed after the state legalized gambling. Ivana became a well-known celebrity in that town, which retained a small-town vibe even after the casinos came.
|Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Ivana Trump.|
Donald asked Ivana to oversee the restoration of the famous Plaza Hotel on Central Park South. She became the Plaza's president and was named Hotelier of the Year in 1990. Ivana was profiled in Spy Magazine in May 1989. Spy was no friend of Donald's (going off on another tangent, it also was no friend of Hillary Clinton, but we digress). Writer Jonathan Van Meter absolutely devastated Ivana in the article. While long forgotten by most, the article had one nugget that remains to this day: Van Meter revealed that Ivana referred to her husband as "The Donald" (actually, the article says she called him "The Don," but then, Captain Kirk never said "Beam me up, Scotty" and Marie Antoinette never said "Let them eat cake," either). Not quite comfortable with English, Ivana at that time called everyone "The ____," but that didn't matter. Ivana Trump came up with "The Donald," and it has become his catchphrase ever since because for some reason it fits.
|At a ceremony in honor of Norman Vincent Peale, who married them at the Waldorf Astoria. 1977. Yes, she's the one who came up with "The Donald."|
The years 1989-1990 were a watershed for the Trump family. Donald liked to call Ivana "my twin as a woman," but there had been rumors that he was interesting in acquiring another twin. These rumors had been floating around at least since July 1988 (and probably much earlier), when the New York Post ran a blind item obviously (in hindsight) referring to Marla. Ivana apparently was unaware of the whole thing, or at least played it cool until the right moment.
|Ivana Trump with Ivanka, Atlantic City, early 1980s.|
During the Christmas holidays in 1989, Donald and Ivana vacationed in Aspen. The first room they were offered had separate beds - she immediately demanded a change so that there was only one king-sized bed. There also was plenty of room for her 16 pieces of luggage.
|Forbes 70th anniversary party in 1987.|
Everything seemed quite comfortable. Donald and Ivana hit all the fashionable parties. However, also present at the parties was a young actress named Marla Maples.
|Greenwich, Connecticut in 1987. They only lived there for a few years.|
It turned out that Marla was a friend of Donald's and was there on his dime. Marla was a small-town beauty queen from Dalton, Georgia - not the one in the Soviet Union, as some of his political enemies seem to think - and bore a striking resemblance to Ivana. She was, however, a bit younger. She was a Ford model, and apparently was being linked (unnamed) in the tabloids with Donald around the same time that she inked that Ford contract. Lots of coincidences in the Trump universe.
|1988. Donald owned the yacht for a while, but it was hideously expensive.|
Donald Trump has a lot of energy. He demonstrated that during his successful 2016 Presidential campaign, when he held five rallies a day in widely separated portions of the country and turned out just enough vote in select locations to win. That week in Aspen, he also showed off his energy by squiring around both Ivana and Marla to separate parties. While Marla probably knew the drill, Ivana did not.
|Future President Trump and Ivana Trump, 1988 (AP Photo).|
Now, Donald was a famous figure in 1989. Maybe not as famous as in 2016, but he was a regular in the tabloids and the New York party scene. Everybody knew Donald Trump. He was friends of a sort with Ronald Reagan, for goodness sakes (there are disputes about that, too). That he would openly attend parties with the "mystery blonde" in Aspen, which basically was New York City and Hollywood transplanted to Colorado for the week, surprised fellow partygoers. As Donald might say, Ivana probably needed her sleep, but not Donald.
Rumor has it that not only did Donald attend Aspen parties with both Ivana and Marla, but both were also at the same parties. At the same time. Other partygoers asked the lovely Marla for her phone number, but she demurred, saying that she already was taken. By Donald Trump. While The Donald was with his wife on the other side of the room. The wife who had no idea that he was taken. By someone else. Who Was In The Same Room. And telling people.
|With Donald's parents in 1989.|
Ivana might have come to Aspen not knowing anything was amiss, but she sure didn't leave the state of Colorado in the same happy state. What actually happened is subject to contrary accounts and has become the stuff of Trump legend, but what is certain is that there was a public confrontation. Apparently, according to witnesses, Ivana spotted Marla at a restaurant in town during brunch - it's not a huge town - and walked near her. They "had words." Ivana says that Marla came up to her, food tray in hand, and said, "I'm Marla, and I love your husband. Do you?" Now, if that isn't the opening salvo. One patron heard Ivana shout, “You bitch, leave my husband alone!” Ivana, however, claims that she merely said politely, "Get lost." What is not disputed is that The Donald, putting on his skis, was witness to the whole thing and ready to hit the slopes again in a hurry.
|Cover girl, 1990.|
After this, Donald and Ivana left the restaurant - Bonnie's - and Ivana started a conversation with Donald. One can imagine the subject, but nobody else overheard. The restaurant is right on the slopes, and the two lovebirds skied away from the sundeck to stand somewhere a bit more private, but still in full view of everyone. Once again, Ivana "had words" with Donald.
|Ivana in Trump Tower. From Christopher Makos, "Everything: The Black and White Monograph."|
Donald finally had enough. He decided to end the conversation and skied off down the mountain, leaving Ivana behind. However, Ivana is a really good skier, and The Donald is only so-so. I mean, he's probably quite good for someone who skis once or twice a year. Ivana may or may not have been on the Olympic ski team - and the Czechs know how to ski about as well as anyone, so being on that team would be something - but she's pretty good nonetheless. Witnesses say that as Donald awkwardly grunted his way down the mountain, Ivana got in front of him, skied backwards down the hill, and continued the conversation whilst wagging a finger in his face.
|With Raquel Welch.|
Donald later mentioned that "a fat guy" who had witnessed the incident later came up to him and said that Donald was a lucky man, to have two beautiful women fighting over him like that. Donald said he got a kick out of that, because the fat guy was right.
After that, things began to change. By February 1990, the couple was in all the papers as heading for divorce. When Donald returned from Tokyo that month, he headed back to New York as usual, but this time not to Trump Tower. Instead, he took up residence at the nearby Grand Hyatt, the hotel near Grand Central Terminal which he owned then and now.
|A Hungarian magazine, 1990.|
The couple had a prenuptial agreement that had been updated in December 1987 - probably around the time that The Donald met Marla, though nobody knows exactly when that happened. The prenup provided Ivana with custody of the three children, the couple's 45-room, $3.7 million mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut (where they had not lived for some time), and $25 million. There have been many rumors of Donald's wealth over the years, and he perhaps was not a billionaire at that point - though some say he was - but $25 million was a small, small price for him to pay even after the full effects of the housing bust that was then in progress hit his assets. In fact, when the divorce was finalized, Donald Trump almost certainly was not a billionaire, and by some accounts he may even have had a negative net worth - though that seems a bit far-fetched.
The divorce was not particularly amicable. All sorts of mud was flung. Suddenly, Donald was linked to a veritable army of women, including model Carol Alt, Mike Tyson's ex Robin Givens (Mike endorsed Donald in the 2016 Presidential race), Dynasty actress Catherine Oxenberg (another blonde beauty), and even 1960s ice-skating legend Peggy Fleming of all people. Everyone denied the allegations... including Marla Maples. And her mother. Veterans of the 2016 Presidential campaign will recognize the pattern - allegations of something to do with females suddenly pop up when it is to someone else's advantage to make them. His experience with the tactic during this go-round probably helped Donald to weather a similar trumped-up storm on the eve of the election in 2016.
|Ivana at the Mugler Spring 1992 Ready-to-Wear Fashion Show.|
One can't say that Ivana gave up easily. Some claim that during 1989, in fact, she had plastic surgery to make her resemble Oxenberg. Now, if a woman wants to look good, copying Catherine Oxenberg is a good place to start.
|Another outfit at the Mugler Spring 1992 Ready-to-Wear Fashion Show.|
Some speculate that the real issue for Donald was not Ivana's looks - she always looked terrific, then and now - but her ambition. She was a smart woman, a savvy businesswoman, an increasingly successful businesswoman. Perhaps clashing egos got in the way of things more than a pretty new face.
|Ivana Trump in Bob Mackie, 1992 Vanity Fair. And look who else is mentioned on the cover.|
The bottom came in 1990, when Donald actually compared Ivana to Leona Helmsley, another titan of New York City real estate. Since the Donald had previously said the following about Leona, there is little doubt about what that meant:
She is a vicious, horrible woman who systematically destroyed the Helmsley name. If Harry had one fault, it was giving her too much leeway.That quote was in Playboy, incidentally, and he was on the cover. That cover features prominently on his wall to this day when he makes promotional shots.
|Ivana Trump with Ivanka at the Ralph Lauren show in April 1995.|
So, things got nasty during the divorce. Ivana was trying to break the pre-nup, and Donald was trying to clear the decks in a hurry for Marla. Ivana gave a deposition in which she said that The Donald had "raped" her. Now, rape is rape, and Ivana did say rape. However, once the divorce was finalized, Ivana has been walking that claim back like Michael Jackson moonwalking across the stage. Donald's lawyers did not help matters by making a variety of stupid public statements about the use of that word and what is permissible within marriages. While the controversy remains, Ivana appears to be clear now that she mean rape in the "figurative" sense, not the "literal" sense. As in, "The IRS raped me," that sort of thing. However, Donald Trump's political enemies don't like that particular interpretation and, ahem, don't accept it.
Long story short, the couple reached a divorce settlement in 1992 (terms are sealed). Both Ivana and Donald married again soon after, Ivana to Riccardo Mazzucchelli and Donald to Marla. Then, both Ivana and Donald divorced and married again, Donald to Melania, and Ivana to Rossano Rubicondi. The status of Ivana's latest marriage at times has been a bit unclear, but apparently they are still together as of late 2016. Incidentally... Ivana has been married more times than The Donald. That's one of those stubborn-facts things that people looking to assign absolute blame to one party or the other tend to overlook.
|Ivana, Ivanka, Donald Trump and Betsey Johnson in 1997. Ivanka is looking a bit solemn amidst the merriment.|
Ivana Trump remains a fixture in Donald Trump's life. She is the mother of his three oldest children, and Donald still talks to her. In fact, she claims to have advised him during his Presidential campaign. Ivana has become a reality television star in her own right - like The Donald, or shall we say in the same fashion as The Donald, because nobody is "like" Donald Trump - and an author (both fiction and self-help). She appeared in the film "The First Wives Club" and dispensed the following shrewd piece of advice:
Ladies you've have to be strong and independent. And remember: don't get mad, get everything.There is no question whatsoever that Ivana Trump - she still uses the last name two marriages later - is a character and always will be. Incidentally... I know, lots of incidentallys in this one, but Donald Trump lives an incidentally kind of life - Ivana Trump admitted after the 2016 election that she had voted for Donald Trump for President. She's a keeper.
|Ivana has grown older gracefully. Source:Supplied.|