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Donald Trump's Early Life and Wives Ivana, Marla & Melania

Updated on April 22, 2016
Donald Trump: how he got to where he is today.
Donald Trump: how he got to where he is today. | Source

Donald Trump's Road to Success

Donald Trump became famous in the 1970s, and his celebrity status has continued to grow over the past decades. This man is both admired for his ability to make money and despised for his candid and controversial straight-forward approach to business and politics. No matter what your opinion is on Trump the man, the fact is that he knows how to stir people's emotions, which means that no matter what public opinion is of "The Donald" at any particular time, Trump will be profiting one way or another. This is exactly what Trump does best. He makes money. He turns bad luck into great fortune and near-bankruptcy into extreme financial success.

Trump has always been a leader with a yen for the spotlight. But as a youngster, what has evolved into determination and strategy used to be the bossiness of a headstrong kid with a hot temper.. Trump was always the captain when football teams were arranged and the president during class time.

Donald Trump in his prime
Donald Trump in his prime | Source

The Influence of Donald's Father, Fred Trump

Donald watched and admired his father, Fred Trump, and saw that he commanded respect through intelligence and business savvy. Fred grew up in Queens, and his own father was an entrepreneur, but died when Fred was 13. Fred told Vanity Fair that his family was so poor that his mother had to take up stitching to keep them going. He began designing and building prefab garages while he was still in high school—a brilliant move in a time when the automobile was becoming a staple in every household, but most homes were built without garages. He sold the units for a major profit for himself and a reasonable price for the customers. At the age of 15, he was too young to sign checks, so he formed a business with his mother called E. Trump & Son and she signed the checks instead.

Fred Trump's creative juices were flowing and carried him through the rest of his life. During the Roaring Twenties, he began building single-family houses; during the Great Depression, he pioneered the concept of supermarkets; and during World War II, he built barracks and garden apartments for the Navy. After the war, he moved into middle-income housing, and by 1999 he was estimated to be worth between 250 and 300 million dollars.

Donald Trump: master promoter and marketing genius
Donald Trump: master promoter and marketing genius | Source

His Ambition for Wealth

Young Trump was lucky that his father was wealthy and a strong role model. However, credit is due to him for taking the ball and running with it. These days it is all too common to cry that he was lucky and, therefore, should not be given credit for his success. However, most children who are born to wealth don't achieve Trump's name recognition and net worth. He has already made a lot more money than his father had ever dreamed of, which says a lot about his work ethic.

Personal Life and Marriages

There never seemed to be a special woman in Trump's life for many years. He was good looking, successful, and determined, all qualifications that attract women in droves, but Trump remained focused on building unique real estate in Manhattan until he met Ivana.

Trump's First Wife: Ivana Marie Zelníčková

The Trumps on their honeymoon
The Trumps on their honeymoon | Source

Ivana was born Ivana Marie Zelníčková in Czechoslovakia, but managed to make her way to the United States through hard work, determination, and the ability to ski well enough to join the Olympic games. These traits alone made her stand out alongside the spoiled liberal women of New York. Ivana understood what it meant to feel trapped financially and by class. She had the heart to take her opportunities in the United States to infinity. She earned her master's in physical education, but her education did not end there. She also studied decorating and business, which would prove to be useful to the Trump empire.

In the early '70s, Ivana was married to a fellow skier, but the marriage was later reported to be in name only so as to help Ivana attain citizenship and keep the communist leaders off her tail. She met Trump in New York while promoting the Olympic games.

After dating for a few years, Donald and Ivana married in 1977 in a lavish ceremony that was the major society event of the decade. After their wedding, the Trumps were a solid business team, taking on major projects such as the construction of the Grand Hyatt Hotel and Trump Plaza.

Ivana and Donald in the '80s
Ivana and Donald in the '80s

Ivana was more than just a beautiful face and a charming personality, she was a powerful force who helped boost Donald to celebrity status. She was vice president of interior design for the Trump Organization and the president of the Trump Castle Hotel and Casino. What's more, Ivana gave birth to three children during this time.

However, even a high-powered woman like Ivana needed a break. In the early 1980s, Ivana informed Donald that she wanted more time with the children. Donald cut his wife loose from her positions in Atlantic City, but asked her to take over as president of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.

Trump's Second Wife: Marla Maples

Affair with Marla Maples

It did not take long after Ivana was out of the business picture in Atlantic City that rumors began circulating that a beauty pageant winner was trying to lure Trump into a serious affair. Marla was just 23 years old when she started dating Donald secretly; he was 40. According to sources close to Marla at the time, she was pressuring Trump to leave Ivana and he was merely offering her money and gifts to keep quiet. Things became intense between the two, with Maples threatening to run around with other men and Donald doing all he could to keep the affair under control.

Finally, Donald was cornered to a point where he took Marla with him wherever he went. If he took his family to California, Marla had to go to California and be put up in a hotel close by so that Donald could escape Ivana and the kids to see his mistress. This went on for some time with Marla becoming more and more dissatisfied. In 1991, when Donald and his family were in Aspen with Marla lodged nearby, the situation came to a boil when the two women either accidentally or deliberately, on Marla's part, met on the ski slopes. It was after this nasty confrontation that Ivana filed for divorce. She was greatly humiliated by the stories and the photos of Marla with Donald on the covers of all the gossip magazines.

Trump Divorces Ivana and Marries Marla Maples

After a messy divorce, Trump married Marla and the two had a child they named Tiffany, after Tiffany & Co. The new marriage was not a happy one, and this time in life was perhaps Trump's lowest point. He had been married to a great woman but wanted to have his cake and eat it too, believing that he could have an affair while continuing his marriage to Ivana. Trump was forced to learn a valuable lesson. He lost his reputation as a respectable businessman and was viewed from that point on as a man who would use his wealth to enable himself to cheat on his wife.

If it bothered Trump that his image had been forever damaged, he did not let it show. He just went with the flow and decided to profit on the new image that he was now facing. For some time thereafter, he was notorious. He was a guy who had cheated on his beautiful family with a beauty queen and then divorced his wife to marry this girl. He used this reputation in commercials for insurance companies, and money was coming in faster than ever.

It has been stated in the media that Donald Trump went bankrupt. This is not true, however: During the early '90s, he went into debt by several million. The media loves to elaborate on misfortune more than it likes to give credit where credit is due, and the public considered him cocky and arrogant during his relationship with Marla Maples. However, it's one thing to play arrogant to the cameras and quite another to actually believe that wealth comes easily. Donald Trump put his nose to the grindstone and focused on rebuilding his wealth.

Maria Maples Reflecting on Her Marriage on the Oprah Winfrey Network

Trump Divorces Maples

The couple divorced in 1999. It has been speculated that Marla was seeing another man, Michael Mailer, for about one year before she and Donald divorced. What is known for a fact is that she had met Mailer while performing a bit part in a movie he was directing in 1998, and they announced their engagement several months after her divorce. Unfortunately, Mailer broke off the engagement and married someone else.

After Marla had married Trump, she was set for life. She would walk away from her saga with "The Donald" as a multi-millionairess and the mother of Tiffany, heir to the Donald Trump estate. What's more, she also would walk away as a celebrity; Marla is regularly asked to do television interviews about her relationship with Trump.

Trump Dates Kara Young

Kara Young
Kara Young | Source

Kara Young, a renowned actress and model, dated A.J. Benza soon after divorcing her husband. A.J. was a moderately successful tabloid columnist in the late 1980s-1990s and is best remembered as the host of Mysteries and Scandals. Kara left A.J. soon after meeting Donald Trump. Not only was Donald a powerful and exciting suitor, but he possessed some traits that Kara found fascinating. Unlike many beautiful women who are attracted to modeling, Kara was also interested in business and entrepreneurship, she and Donald could talk for hours about the subject.

It is unclear why the couple did not continue with their relationship. It could be that Kara was too ambitious in her own right to live with Donald, that Donald did not wish to pair himself with a powerful woman, or, even more likely, that Donald had someone else on his mind. Either way, Kara went on to become a respected Fox News correspondent and Trump took his millions and moved on.

Trump's Third Wife: Melania Knauss


Many believe that Trump's third wife, Melania, is nothing more than an extension of Donald's ego. Melania was born in Slovenia as Melanija Knavs, and is a former model known for having more than her fair share of plastic surgery.

People have also speculated that Donald was probably still married to Marla when he began seeing Melania, as it is known that they met and began dating in the late 1990s. As soon as he divorced Marla, Donald began promoting Melania's modeling career and taking her on television shows with him, which resulted in many modeling offers for her. The couple married in 2005, and the wedding received extravagant press coverage as the event seemed to be attempting to recapture the glory and expense of Donald Trump's first marriage to Ivana.

Melania has some formal education but does not seem very interested in applying her talents, unlike Ivana. She and Donald have one son together, which is occupying her time these days. Melania's early life is somewhat of a mystery, and early photos of her are almost impossible to find, but surgeons say she has had cheek implants and at least two nose jobs. Her second nose job is less than 10 years old as there are many photos of her before her final rhinoplasty refinement. The first nose job narrowed the sides but left the tip pinched and bony, with a slight downward turn at the tip. Her new nose is perfect. Perhaps she and Trump's daughter by Ivana share the same surgeon as Ivanka has a very similar looking nose after having several botched nasal surgeries.

Melania Before and After Her Final Nose Job


Lessons Learned From His Relationships

Donald tries to keep his family life somewhat private. Although after his affair with Marla Maples, his reputation became notorious and somewhat negative, it is obvious to those who truly pay attention to Donald that he is old fashioned at heart and regretful of the whole Marla Maples fiasco in his life. No matter how smart, savvy, and moral one is, it is not easy to keep one's head when fame and success reach mammoth proportions. He is human and therefore not perfect, but he does learn from past mistakes.

Trump's 2016 Run for President: Common Criticisms and Why He's Qualified for the Role

After Trump openly called out president Obama for running a secretive administration after promising to be a transparent president, the liberal media went after Trump. They embellished stories about Trump's past life, distracting the conversation from what he was actually saying. Many of his critics still like to point to the financial difficulties he went through during his relationship with Marla Maples. Donald hit a few life snags and actually failed in some of his business ventures, and the media loves to paint as stupid anyone who has ever failed. But everyone who has great success has had many failures along the way. Failing is just part of becoming a winner. For those who have faith, it would appear that Donald was being punished by God for his infidelities, but this was to be Trump's first set of major failures. He bankrupt at least one project and was said to have been wiped out financially. Critics and haters enjoyed gloating and stating that Trump is not a smart man because of this major disaster. However, business-minded entrepreneurs have pointed out that after the major setback, Trump dug in and is now even richer than ever. The comeback is the true sign of a hard working and truly savvy businessman; a "loser" with less drive would have packed it in and just thrown in the towel.

This can all be boiled down to a piece of great advice Trump gives in his books: The ignorant will point to a man's failures and dwell on them, but the successful will realize that everyone has failures in life, and it's what one does about the failure that makes or breaks a person.

More financially successful than ever, Trump has turned his attention to the Presidency, announcing that he is running in 2016. Because the Obama Presidency was so disastrous, maybe what this country needs is the exact opposite. Barack Obama never built anything himself or held down any normal jobs. Many hard-working Americans do not relate to Obama at all. Trump, on the other hand, has had to fight to get permits, gone through the rigors of hiring employees, and created thousands of jobs and many businesses.

Trump has spoken of reducing taxes to give working-class Americans a better chance to provide for themselves and reach goals. The theory is great, and it works: It is what Ronald Reagan did in the 1980s and resulted in a strong economy. But Trump's critics wonder if he has what it takes to make the country run as well as it did under Reagan, who had decades of political experience when he was elected President of the United States.

Many Americans point out that Trump can't possibly be worse than Barack Obama. Obama was elected president based on campaigning that he would end the war, yet not only did he fail to do so, but also the war actually escalated under his administration, with the death toll growing by the thousands. Obama promised to do something about the failing economy, yet the economy did not get better because of his actions, but simply because of the passage of time, which was inevitable. For those who lost everything, it's a little too little, a little too late.

The biggest mark against Trump is that we can't be sure if Trump wants to be president, or if he is just drumming up publicity for other projects he is working on. Trump is a master at keeping the public talking. Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure: If Trump is running for president, he is the man to vote for, because Trump always puts his all into his projects and comes out ahead. It's about time the United States hire a man with experience, guts, and desire.

What's Your Vote?

Should Donald Trump be President?

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    • Brennon Parker 2 weeks ago

      Nothing on Donald Trumps Corporate I.D. How did he reaquire his lost assets then reappear from, where? And resume his ethics so long ago?

    • Joe noll 2 months ago

      Hope Trump has some good handlers. Is the President now!

    • Sgt Prepper 3 months ago

      TRUMP LIED when he said Obama "was born in the United States". The evil-cabal of global elite(Freemasons, Shriners, Jesuits, etc) must have threatened Trump family-members.

    • fido 3 months ago


      I am tired of lying, deceitful democrates

    • Craig 3 months ago

      Who wrote this?

    • Cornelius Solomon 4 months ago

      It is what it is, American values and decision making, that is: Probity, justice a moral and a socio-ethic, are very low on the values list, and no longer a requirement in America. Where do we go from here, the house appears to be hopelessly divided, permanently!

    • bmoore867 profile image

      bmoore867 5 months ago

      I felt the article was well written and informative. I take issue, however, with your poll. It is completely biased in how it is worded. 3 out of the 4 choices are "vote for trump?" The only other choice is actually forcing people to say something about themselves that isn't necessarily true, should they not want to vote for Trump. I am a registered Independent and I question your leading tactics in order to get the result you are desiring. You should offer equal choices that represent the real options. How about, I do not feel that Trump is qualified to run our country, and while Hillary may not be the best option from what was initially offered, she is DEFINITELY way more likely to unify this country and bring us to a stronger position, worldwide, than the Republican nominee. He can't even go an hour after being insulted without tweeting some crazy response that only creates more drama! He incites violence in his rhetoric, and would only lead our country to a darker time. We have come so far...I was inspired to see Will Smith on the late show the other night...his views on where we are on CIVIL RIGHTS was very inspiring to the whole audience...myself included. Check it out.

    • Stella Saied 5 months ago

      how can I get the link to the popup for rating this article? thanks.

    • Angelia Miller 5 months ago

      Whatever you say economy just got better it is about who can do the JOB. If it be Donald then fine if it be Hillary then fi e but give credit where credit is due.

    • D. Goodman 6 months ago

      A famous man said, all adulterer's are liars. How can we trust either candidate? We need to study each candidate, get all the information about their character we can, study the issues, pray and vote our conscience!

      The country is on the verge of destruction, times are uncertain around the world. Pray that God will bless us to do the right thing.

    • J Hall 6 months ago

      When Obama was running for president the first time I saw an interview with his grandmother in Kenya. She was sitting in her back yard feeding her chickens corn. She told the reporter Barack was born ," right over there in that building because his mother was too pregnant to fly." Don't know what happened to that video, it's never been shown again.

    • Sarah Powell 6 months ago

      Who wants a career politician as a President. They are like lawyers! They LIE!

    • slavaverna1 7 months ago

      I think that cheating is so wrong.

      There are many ways to catch a cheater but I believe that the most effective is an app on his phone.

      If you google for such apps, you'll find much info. I tried spytomobile service, but you can use any other app. The one thing which is important that these apps work great.

    • Sgt Prepper profile image

      Gunny Cracker 7 months ago from Elkhorn, WI

      How can Americans accept a president(?) who was born a British Subject in Kenya before his adoption in Indonesia. BHO's mother WAS a porn-star as can be seen at and Bathhouse Barry's nanny was a tranny called "Evie". The jury is still out on our First Ladyboy accept for the late Joan Rivers knew the score.

    • Sgt Prepper profile image

      Gunny Cracker 12 months ago from Elkhorn, WI

      Getting rid of raccoons - Oh yeah –precisely! From the widow of the late Paul Weyrich

      An interesting analogy: You've been on vacation for two weeks, you come home, and your basement is infested with raccoons. Hundreds of rabid, messy, mean raccoons have overtaken your basement. You want them gone immediately so you hire a guy. A pro. You don't care if the guy smells, you need those raccoons gone pronto and he's the guy to do it!

      You don't care if the guy swears, you don't care if he's an alcoholic, you don't care how many times he's been married, you don't care if he voted for Obama, you don't care if he has plumber's simply want those raccoons gone! You want your problem fixed! He's the guy. He's the best. Period. That's why Trump. Yes he's a bit of an ass, yes he's an egomaniac, but you don't care. The country is a mess because politicians suck, the Republican Party is two-faced, gutless and wimpy. Illegals are everywhere. You want it all fixed!

      You don't care that Trump is crude, you don't care that he insults people, you don't care that he had been friendly with Hillary, you don't care that he has changed positions, you don't care that he's been married 3 times, you don't care that he fights with Megyn Kelly and Rosie O'Donnell, you don't care that he doesn't know the name of some Muslin terrorist... this country is weak, bankrupt, our enemies are making fun of us, we are being invaded by illegal's, we are becoming a nation of victims where every Tom, Ricardo and Hamid is a special group with special rights to a point where we don’t even recognize the country we were born and raised in; “AND WE JUST WANT IT FIXED” and Trump is the only guy who seems to understand what the people want.

      You're sick of politicians, sick of the Democratic Party, Republican Party, and sick of illegal's. You just want this thing fixed. Trump may not be a saint, but doesn’t have lobbyist money holding him, he doesn’t have political correctness restraining him, all you know is that he has been very successful, a good negotiator, he has built a lot of things, and he's also not a politician, he's not a cowardly politician. And he says he'll fix it. You don't care if the guy has bad hair. You just want those raccoons gone. Out of your house. Now!

    • therealdealforeve 12 months ago

      Fascinating stuf.

    • deadlikme74 12 months ago

      Trump did have 4 businesses that went bankrupt, he did not go bankrupt personally. But since he puts the Trump name on all of them - people think HE went bankrupt.

    • Sgt Prepper profile image

      Gunny Cracker 13 months ago from Elkhorn, WI

      Birther Trump is our last best hope to save America and do what Obama has done. As a former political-junkie and GOP activist I have finally come to see the light. Republicans are in effect Nazis. Democrats are commies. Betwixt them both you see they are making socialism the worldwide economic system. About 1968 the global-elite launched a scheme to cheapen U.S. made goods and heap praise on Japanese-made automobiles, motorcycles, stereos and other electronics. They used the left-leaning unions to continually demand higher wages for doing less and less work and thereby producing inferior products. Remember when AMF took over Harley-Davidson? Remember when Chicago-made Schwinn was the best quality bicycle and Timex watches could "take a licking and keep on ticking"? Mergers were supposedly required so stockholders could get windfalls and suddenly industry was laden with grossly overpaid CEOs. Many manufacturers were moved overseas where labor was cheap, safety standards much lower and profits much higher. The gist of it was to destroy unions and prop up developing and third-world nations. Slowly us consumers bought into it literally. Try finding "Made in USA" on any product in Target, Walmart or Shopko today! Obama has said he was sympathetic to their cause but that "unions are standing in the way of globalization ". I contend that both the Republicans and the Democrats are reading from the exact same script for their New World Order.

    • Experienced 14 months ago

      Trump has never said anything racist, or insulting towards foreigners/Mexicans. It is amazing how much manipulation power the liberal media has. I have heard all my left wing friends talk about how Trump has said negative things about Mexicans and then when I listen to just what Donald says, there is no evidence of it. Its the talking heads saying, "wow, those comments are racist" that get the less informed or low intellect people to think negative thoughts. If Trump were president he would do a much better job that Obama, that's for sure. Its just a matter of, are people willing to ignore the liberal lies and be accepting of a real person above a puppet politician like Killery or Bernie.

    • Roger Dunn 14 months ago

      My last of three marriages is wonderful beyond measure. I have learned tough lessons over the years. America needs a sound decision maker and leader who is not beholden to political donors and who learns from mistakes. Donald Trump will become a powerful and effective President of the United States who will defend us against our enemies and restore our economic strength.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 15 months ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      Well written and reassuring (in case Trump is elected.) With any luck he is finally married to someone who will be satisfied to stick around for the long haul, or at least until the glory days are over.

    • Sgt Prepper profile image

      Gunny Cracker 16 months ago from Elkhorn, WI

      At least birther Trump is a "natural-born" citizen. He's not a gay, Moslem, commie either. And he isn't owned by Skull&Bones.

    • GlendaGoodWitch profile image

      GlendaGoodWitch 16 months ago from California

      Thank you Dana Tate.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 16 months ago from LOS ANGELES

      I was very impressed by this article. It is well-written and very in-depth.

    • jam 16 months ago

      I am speechless after what I have read about Mr trump

    • GlendaGoodWitch profile image

      GlendaGoodWitch 16 months ago from California

      Mizbejabbers- Sounds like you have been nipping on the MSNBC Kool-aid. No, Trump is not for taking women's rights away. I get so frustrated with liberals because I wonder I'f they actually believe the things they say. There are NO politicians who want to take away women's rights. Let's stick with reality. Women have rights, and they have had all rights for 100 years. John D rockefeller ' s children had a female doctor in the 1860's, . No, women didn't have the vote yet, but they had plenty of rights over and above in Europe, where they were not permitted to watch a boxing match.

      My family left Europe, and I am not concerned with what they think of Trump. I don't want to vote- what Europe wants. Europe has nothing on the United States, that's why people want to come here.

      If we listen to Europe we will be taxed into oblivion as they are. No thanks.

      This is exactly how the Democrats have succeeded in destroying our middle class. They keep people thinking about stupid things, like; " which candidate hates women?" "He's against illegal immigrants, doesn't that mean he's a racist? ".

      Tune out of the main stream media, it's big money democrats who don't care about women, the middle class, or the future of this country.

    • Sgt Prepper profile image

      Gunny Cracker 16 months ago from Elkhorn, WI

      Birther Trump is our last hope to restore America. He is our best hope to get this Kenyan-born usurper into Portsmouth to await a firing squad of U.S. Marines.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 16 months ago

      Talk over the Internet says that Europe is scared to death of Trump. He says he "loves women," but he's still for taking away women's rights.

    • letstalkabouteduc profile image

      Nancy Mitchell 16 months ago from Bend, OR

      Interesting information about Trump. We, as a country, seem to be all over the place with what we want -- Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Ben Carson -- but unified in that we want major change -- no more politics as usual. I heard that Jeb Bush is in my neck of the woods -- Portland -- for private fundraising events for his campaign and SuperPac. I'm so sick and tired of Big Money corrupting our politics. I'm for anyone who can stop that!

    • Repairman 17 months ago

      Trump will give us more than a career politician. Not only will he fix a few things( and break a couple of others) but he will give a show we want to watch. Maybe even a little pride in America.

    • TIna 17 months ago

      In Slovenia, there are a lot of photos of young Melania, as well as information about hery boyfriends etc. So the reporters should just find that on Slovenian internet pages :) She also has breast implants because she was practically without breasts before...

    • BRENDA 17 months ago


    • Sgt Prepper profile image

      Gunny Cracker 18 months ago from Elkhorn, WI

      Birther Trump reminds me of wise old King Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes.

    • Entourage_007 profile image

      Stuart 18 months ago from Santa Barbara, CA

      Great article you mentioned a lot about Donald Trump that I had no Idea about. Glad I looked into this one.

    • Sgt Prepper profile image

      Gunny Cracker 18 months ago from Elkhorn, WI

      Lying is Obama's native-tongue just like his father...the devil.

    • GlendaGoodWitch profile image

      GlendaGoodWitch 18 months ago from California

      That's right. Obviously NBC has a problem with with the truth too. Donald could never be elected president because he tells it bluntly. Our current president does nothing but tell lies and walk a politically correct line, that is what Americans want at this point.

    • Sgt Prepper profile image

      Gunny Cracker 18 months ago from Elkhorn, WI

      Donald Trump knows Obama was born in Kenya. That is the ONLY real problem, liberals, RINOs, the Illuminati and the lame-stream media have against The Donald. They fear he will broadcast the truth about this treasonous usurper and Antichrist Obama. Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Alan Keyes, Rep. Paul Ryan & the Clintons know it too.

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