Ever wondered who got Donald Trump started on Twitter? Or who it was that first started calling him The Donald? That would be Ivana Trump, his first wife and the mother of his three eldest children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric. She was born Ivana Zelnickova in the former Soviet state of Czechoslovakia, where she wore homemade clothes and lived off food rations. Nobody had a television. There wasn’t even radio. Luckily for Ivana she was a natural on the slopes — the athletic blonde made it onto the junior national ski team and was able to travel to neighboring countries, where she saw first hand just how different life was away from communism. “Ivana didn’t want to stay here,” her mother, Marie Zelnickova, told Newsweek from their hometown of Zlin. “She was always ambitious.”
Ivana married an Austrian skier, got herself a new passport and, in 1972, left for North America, spending time in Canada before settling into a life as a New York City model. It was in the Big Apple that she met her soon-to-be second husband, who spotted her waiting in line at a restaurant and offered to get her a table. They tied the knot less than a year into the relationship, but the marriage ended in tears when Donald had a highly publicized affair with the women who would become his second wife, Marla Maples. She moved on herself in the years that followed, but what’s Ivana’s life like today? Let’s take a look.
Coronavirus halted Ivana Trump's globetrotting lifestyle
After her divorce from Donald Trump was finalized in 1992, Ivana Trump set about building her own business portfolio. She started a perfume and cosmetics company, a jewelry line, and a clothing brand that was worth $50 million a year by 1997. The former Vice President of Interior Design for the Trump Organization began buying her own properties in her favorite spots around the world, and she’s been living the jet-set life ever since. Ivana has places in London, New York, Miami, Palm Beach and St. Tropez, a resort town on the French Riviera that’s been a playground for the rich and famous since the mid-1950s. “I now spend about four months a year here,” Ivana told Helen Cummins. “I have the ‘special key’ that allows me to drive in spots forbidden to tourists.”
St. Tropez has been “a magical place” for Ivana since she visited with Donald as a newlywed. “I love the colors, warm weather and carefree freedom of it all,” she told Helen Cummins. Sadly, the south of France became off limits for Ivana and countless others in 2020. Her globetrotting came to a grinding halt when the coronavirus pandemic took hold, forcing her to hole up in the Hamptons instead. It was the first time she had vacationed there in over a decade, Page Six reported. “She is normally in Europe for the summers, but decided to stay local due to restrictions with COVID-19,” an insider told the tabloid.
Donald and Ivana Trump remain close
Ivana Trump found out about Donald Trump’s affair with Marla Maples in December 1989 when the model approached her “out of the blue” with a startling question. “[She] said, ‘I’m Marla and I love your husband. Do you?'” Ivana wrote in her memoir Raising Trump. “I said, ‘Get lost, I love my husband.’ It was unladylike, but I was in shock.” The story took up countless column inches and held the interest of the media for months (“I couldn’t turn on the television without hearing my name,” Ivana wrote), but the business mogul went on to marry Maples and the tabloids got over it. Ivana would eventually get over it, too — the exes buried the hatchet, and they remain close to this day.
In 2016, Donald’s first wife revealed that she had been quietly advising him from the sidelines since his entry into the political sphere, even giving him his “You think it, I say it” catchphrase. “I suggest a few things,” Ivana told the New York Post in April 2016, adding, “We speak before and after the appearances and he asks me what I thought.” The next year, Ivana boasted to Good Morning America about having “the direct number to [the] White House,” and she would later tell CBS Sunday Morning that the president is still a big part of her life. “We speak to each other maybe once a week,” she revealed. “He’s still asking me for advice.”
Ivana Trump got involved in her son's divorce
When news of Donald Trump Jr.’s impending divorce from his wife of over a decade broke in 2018, his mother decided to chime in with her two cents. Using one of her preferred methods of communication (the New York tabloids), Ivana Trump revealed that she was “very sad” about the split, which she had in fact known about for some time — she was apparently the one who informed the president that his eldest son’s wife, Vanessa Trump, was filing for divorce. According to Ivana, that was a risky move on Vanessa’s part. Donald Jr.’s mother predicted that he would bounce back in no time, while the outlook for his ex could be pretty bleak.
“Donald Jr. is a good-looking guy,” Ivana told Page Six. “He is successful. He is not going to have a problem to find a girl. Maybe Vanessa might have a little problem because she has five kids… who is going to date and marry the woman who has five children? Especially since she is young and she might want to have more.” To their credit, the power couple refused to be pulled into a mud-slinging match, despite Ivana’s provocation. They finalized their divorce amicably at the end of 2018. “We feel incredibly lucky to have five amazing children and are committed to raising them together,” they said in a joint statement (via Page Six). “Our kids and their happiness will always be our first priority.”
Why did the Czech president call Ivana Trump 'a coward?'
When Donald Trump came to power, many saw his first wife as the ideal candidate for the role of ambassador to the Czech Republic, even her home nation’s president. In 2017, Ivana Trump told the New York Post that her ex had offered her the diplomatic job, and her reasons for turning it down didn’t exactly go over well in Europe. “It’s four years in Prague, so bye-bye to Miami, bye-bye to New York in spring and fall, bye-bye to Saint-Tropez in summer,” the socialite said. “I like my freedom and I want to do what I want to do, go wherever I want to go, with whomever I want. I don’t need the prestige, and it’s an 8-to-12 job.”
Ivana went on to brag about how she would be “great” in the role because she knows how to “negotiate” with people. “I am a business person and I can entertain,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, so I said no.” The fact that she acknowledged how perfect she was for the position while dismissing it because it was going to interfere with her globetrotting lifestyle left Czech president Milos Zeman in a state of shock and anger. Speaking to TV Barrandov (via the Prague Daily Monitor), he said that he “was furious” when he found out and revealed that he accused Ivana of acting “like a coward” in what must have been an incredibly awkward exchange.
Melania Trump didn't love this Ivana Trump quip
Does being Donald Trump’s first wife make you the real first lady of the United States of America? That’s what Ivana Trump said during a now infamous appearance on Good Morning America, causing quite the stir in the process. The Czech businesswoman revealed that the only reason she doesn’t call the president at the White House more often is because his current wife (and official first lady) Melania Trump may be around. “I don’t want to cause any kind of jealousy or something like that,” she said. “Because I’m basically first Trump wife. I’m first lady, okay?” Ivana was laughing when she made these comments, but Melania did not see the funny side.
In response to the interview, Melania released an incredibly catty statement via her spokeswoman, making it clear what she thought of Ivana’s sensational assertions. “Mrs. Trump has made the White House a home for [son] Barron and The President,” Stephanie Grisham said (via ABC). “She loves living in Washington, D.C. and is honored by her role as First Lady of the United States. She plans to use her title and role to help children, not sell books. There is clearly no substance to this statement from an ex. Unfortunately only attention seeking and self-serving noise.” Yikes! Ivana later defended her comments on The Ray D’Arcy Show, claiming that Melania “resents” the fact that she has three kids by her husband.
Ivana Trump doesn't envy her ex
He may be the POTUS, but Ivana Trump doesn’t envy her powerful ex, not in the slightest. When she appeared on Ireland’s The Ray D’Arcy Show, Ivana said that being the president is too much like hard work — and she believes that Donald Trump sometimes feels the exact same way. “I think he’s missing [a] little bit of his old life,” Ivana said, adding, “You know he was in Trump Tower, and he would go to Mar-a-Lago, he would go to play golf on Westchester, and things like that. Now from 8 o’clock in the morning to midnight, he’s working, working, working, and everybody shoves at him the problem of the country.” But he knew what he was getting himself into, right? Maybe not.
According to Ivana, there’s a chance that Donald Trump may not have realized just “how much is involved” in the running of a country, and is likely lamenting the lack of “freedom” the job affords him. He’s not able to enjoy his money as much as he used to, which is why Ivana believes that him remaining in the Oval Office beyond 2020 could be a big mistake. “I don’t think it’s necessary,” the president’s ex told Page Six in April 2018, adding, “He has a good life and he has everything. Donald is going to be 74, 73 for the next [election] and maybe he should just go and play golf and enjoy his fortune.”
Will there be a 4th Mr. Ivana Trump?
Ivana Trump was Donald Trump’s first wife, but he wasn’t her first husband. She was married to Austrian skier Alfred Winklmayr for a couple of years before she met the future president, and there’s been two more husbands in the years since their sensational split. Ivana tied the knot with wealthy Italian businessman Riccardo Mazzucchelli in 1995, but that also lasted for a short two years. In 2008, she married another Italian hunk. She dated the almost two-and-a-half decades younger Rossano Rubicondi (pictured above) for six years before making it official, but a matter of months after they wed, they were calling it quits.
At this point, divorce was pretty much her speciality — she urged fellow divorcees to “get yourself a great settlement — and before you do, take his wallet to the cleaners” in her book The Best Is Yet To Come (via Biography), but Ivana’s love story with Rubicondi wasn’t quite done. They would later rekindle their romance, and were dating one another as recently as 2019, when they amicably split for a second time. “I am once again a single woman,” Ivana told Page Six, blaming the failure on the fact that “the long-distance relationship really doesn’t work.” She added, “I don’t want to get married again. … You get married because you want a family. I have three kids and grandkids. I just want to be free and go where I want to go with whoever I want.”
Ivana Trump is a 'glam-ma'
Ivana Trump is now in double figures when it comes to grandchildren. Donald Trump Jr. and his ex-wife Vanessa Trump have five kids together: Kai Madison Trump, Donald John III Trump, Tristan Milos Trump, Spencer Frederick Trump, and Chloe Sophia Trump. Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner have the three kids in total (Arabella Rose Kushner, Joseph Frederick Kushner, and Theodore James Kushner) while Eric Trump and his wife Lara Trump have just the two at the time of this writing (Eric “Luke” Trump, and youngest Trump grandkid Carolina Dorothy Trump, born in 2019). Ivana has plenty of grandchildren to dote on, but it probably won’t surprise you to learn that she doesn’t do any of the dirty work.
“They call me ‘glam-ma’ or ‘Ivana-ma,’ for the youngest ones,” she told OWN back in 2013. “You play with them — after four hours I ship them right back. No need to change the diapers. Been there, done that. So it works perfectly.” In a more recent interview with Good Morning Britain, hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid, Ivana said that the large family she shares with the president is usually the main topic of conversation when they have their little chats. “We talk about the kids,” she said. “We talk about holidays, vacations. And the birthdays.” The Trump grandkids also have a great glam-ma — Ivana’s mother, Marie Zelnickova, is in her 90s but still splits her time between New York and Zlin (per Newsweek).
Ivana Trump's comments on immigration caused outrage in the United Kingdom
Donald Trump spoke disparagingly of immigrants during his 2016 election campaign, and his ex ramped up the same rhetoric as he launched his repeat bid for the White House. When Ivana Trump appeared on British daytime talk show Loose Women in 2020, she went on a rant that kept telephone operators at Ofcom (the U.K.’s regulatory body for broadcasting standards) pretty busy. “I have no problem with the immigrants, but they have to come to the country legally, they have to get a job and pay taxes like the rest of the Americans,” Ivana said (via Metro). “Not like a lot of people who go and don’t even dress American, they dress whatever they dress in and they don’t get a job and they steal and they rape the women and that is not the idea.”
Ivana’s comments didn’t go down well with panelist Jane Moore, who accused the privileged Czech native of hypocrisy. “What you’ve just said about migrants a lot of people would find quite offensive,” Moore snapped back. “You’re a migrant yourself — are you not shutting the door behind you? Do you not understand some people have very desperate lives?” Moore went on to call Ivana’s words “inhumane,” but the socialite stood her ground. Insisting that there’s no room for sentiment when it comes to border security, she added: “They have to go and apply for the visa properly, then they come to America.”
Tiger is the only companion Ivana Trump needs
Ivana Trump was spotted out and about in New York City with an old friend after her controversial Loose Women appearance in 2020 — her cuddly little comfort dog, Tiger. The teacup Yorkshire Terrier first made headlines back in 2014 when Ivana took him to an Italian restaurant just around the corner from her residence on East 64th Street. According to a fellow customer, who spoke anonymously to Page Six, the socialite’s tiny dog was causing quite a big scene. “Lunch was ruined,” the diner said. “She even let the dog climb up on the table. I told her, ‘No dogs allowed,’ but she lied that hers was a service dog.”
Ivana denied that she had made the whole thing up, telling the tabloid that Tiger (who “doesn’t bark [or] bother anyone,” his owner insists) was in fact a fully certified “comfort service dog” who is well known in the south of France. “He’s more famous in St. Tropez than Brigitte Bardot.” The restaurant clearly didn’t ban Ivana following the incident, because she and Tiger were back again in September 2020, days after her much maligned Loose Women interview. Donald Trump’s first wife looked a little worse for wear as she removed her facemask to tuck into a “$30 pasta entree,” her beloved Tiger in the seat next to her, paws on the table. She was on the verge of “dozing off” right in the middle of her meal, according to The Sun.
President Ivanka Trump? Ivana certainly thinks so
There’s been talk about Donald Trump’s eldest daughter being a potential future president, and a lot of it has come from her mother. Ivanka Trump has been working as a senior adviser to her dad for some time now, and, according to Ivana Trump, she’s ideally placed to follow in his footsteps. “She’s in the White House every day, you know?” Ivana said during her controversial 2020 appearance on Loose Women. “She’s next to her father every day. She knows all what is going around. I think she could be one day the first girl— woman president, definitely. She’s smart as hell, she’s beautiful, she’s au courant. How much more you can have?”
This wasn’t the first time that Ivana floated the idea of Ivanka in the Oval Office. She has made it perfectly clear that she has no desire to get into politics herself, but the idea of her daughter making history as the first female president of the United States has intrigued her for some time. “First Lady? Holds no appeal for me personally,” Ivana wrote in 2017’s Raising Trump. “First Mother? That could work.” If this does come to pass, then Ivanka will have her ambitious mom to thank. “It was my mother, unapologetically feminine in a male industry, who first embodied and defined for me what it meant to be a multidimensional woman,” Ivanka wrote in her memoir, Women Who Work.
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