In 1990 the biggest war story in NYC was not Desert Storm, but the contentious and very public war between the Trumps.
In the early 1990s Donald Trump and his terminally tacky behavior touched off a frenzy of tabloid headlines, as the boastful billionaire cheated on his Czech-born wife Ivana.
It was a classic scandal with a blonde in the background and a battle for millions looming in the courts.
Trump’s divorce like his marriage, was the epitome of greed, vulgarity, and self-promotion.
Epitomizing the gaudy go-go 80’s, they lived a gilded lifestyle.
With Trump’s name emblazoned on everything from hotels, and casinos, to airlines, he loved boasting that everything he had was the best…. the greatest ever, and when he split with Ivana, Donald topped even his own lofty standards for tacky behavior.
It was huuge!
Out of Control
It was an irresistible story that reeked of sex, power, avarice, and revenge. And New Yorkers couldn’t get enough of it. The city tabloids along with every other news outlet were fixated on the salacious soap opera.
There were juicy tales of another woman, a whole parade of women, a hotel love nest, a screaming confrontation pitting wife and mistress on the slopes of Aspen. Pre-nups were argued, figures bandied about.
Suddenly Marla Maples the Georgia peach Donald plucked out of obscurity was the biggest headliner in N.Y.C. not for any role she played on stage or screen, but now labeled the Other Woman in the raging divorce war between Donald and Ivana.
For three weeks the story trumped all other news including the historical end of apartheid in South Africa and the release of Nelson Mandella after 27 years in prison.
Just as when Trump’s Presidential campaign antics drew attention away from real issues, his salacious scandal was a diversion from the ravages of crime and homelessness that swept the city that winter of 1990.
“No One Loves Women The Way I Love Women”
Not unlike today, The Donald didn’t shy away from the publicity.
While Ivana remained silent for the most part, that left the talking largely to Donald and he did a lot of it- taking nearly every media call that came in. Trump got so much hype that Playgirl Magazine offered him the centerfold.
Even Donald expressed amazement at the dimensions of the Trump divorce story. “It’s bigger than Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton,” he modestly declared.
All The Gossip That’s Fit To Print
From the time the New York Daily News columnist Liz Smith broke the story, the fiercely competitive New York City tabloids were off and running with this juiciest spectacle.
Whatever the outcome it was a lurid scandal and the Big Apple editors were pulling out all the stops. By midweek there were hundreds of reporters merrily digging through the dirt.
Ivana and Rival in Fiery Face Off
In the February 13, 1990 issue of the N.Y. Post, salivating readers learned the salacious details of the big confrontation:
“She may be a Georgia peach- but Marla Maples is the pits to Ivana Trump.
New, salacious details emerged yesterday about the woman who supposedly caught the roving eye of Donald-and helped bring an end to the storybook Trump marriage.
Sources tell the Post the beginning of the end came between Christmas and New Years Eve on the ski slopes of chic Aspen Colorodo.
Donald and Ivana were there with the kids.
So was Marla Maples, the shapely blond Miss Georgia runner-up who has been linked to Donald and supposedly goes around to all the stores in Trump Tower saying “Charge it to Donald.”
Marla traveled to Aspen with her girlfriend Kim Knapp a brunette.
Ivana and Marla first met face to face- they were actually introduced to each other- at a huge party thrown by Leslie Wexner the retailing billionaire behind the Limited clothing store chain on Dec 28.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said one eyewitness. “People were cringing, waiting for the sparks to fly.”
But the two women parted without incident.
It wasn’t so pleasant when they met a second time a couple of days later at Bonnies a popular lunch spot halfway down Ajax mountain.
Marla reportedly told Ivana, “I love him and if you don’t, why don’t you let him go?”
Ivana went crazy.
She told the younger woman in no uncertain terms to stay away from her husband.
“Ivana was cursing at her and couldn’t pronounce her name right. She was calling her Moolah,” said a source who wasn’t there but had been given a first hand account.
“Donald just sat there until it was over and then told Ivana “You’re overreacting.”
Round three came on New Years Eve the night that oil industry billionaire David Koch threw a big party at his Aspen mansion.
Donald arrived at the party not with Ivana but with Marla.
Soon after they got there Koch got a phone call. It was Ivana on the line and she wanted to know if Donald was there with his girlfriend.
That was the last straw.
Don Juan Says: She’s Simply Marla-Vous
Rival gossip columnists of the tabloids chose sides and clawed for scoops; high-priced lawyers traded public insults.
The Daily News coverage was unabashedly pro Ivana picturing her as his helpmate and business partner, while the NY Post’s Cindy Adams was a sympathetic friend of Donald’s.
The Post quoted a supposed friend of Donald’s on his tribute to Marla’s sexual talents “She is so much better than a 10, you can’t believe it.”
The next day on Feb 16, 1990, Marla returned the compliment when The NY Post ran the infamous headline about Trump: “Best Sex I’ve Ever Had.” The inside story elaborated:
We always knew that Donald Trump was a Tiger in the corporate boardroom, but now we know he’s a wild cat in the bedroom.
Blond beauty Marla Maples once gushed to friends that Donald Trump gave her “ the best sex I’ve ever had,” The Post has learned.
Maples tell-all words about Trump surfaced last night as intimate new details emerged about her secret life as the billionaires Other Woman. They include:
Trump told Maples parents he would “take care if their daughter.”
Trump set Maples up in a “drop dead” Upper West Side duplex after he sold the Hotel St Moritz where he kept her in a posh suite.
Trump kept a black limo at Maples disposal 24 hours a day.
She kept an autographed copy of Trumps book, The Art of the Deal at her bedside.
N.Y. Giants star Sean Landeta – romantically linked to Maples- was really just a “decoy” who took her to parties Trump attended so Ivana wouldn’t suspect anything.”
Ex Wives of the Rich and Famous
That very same weekend, Donald, insisting that he and Marla are “merely good friends,” was helping Ivana blow out the candles on her Palm Beach birthday cake.
The media frenzy continued escalating in sleaze.
Increasingly frustrated by the stories about Marla, Donald felt compelled to issue a blanket denial. “I never cheated on Ivana,” Trump told the Post.
Trump then allegedly called for the Daily News to “Fire Liz Smith” as one headline blared.
Ivana confidante Smith, he claimed, was “making up quotes” that Donald was “delighted” by the Post’s Best Sex headline.
By 1991, Marla and Donald were on the rocks.
As the intense interest in the Trumps winded down after a few months or so, Newsweek reported about Trump: “What he has missed most in recent months has been the glare of public attention,” a friend said: “Publicity is his cocaine,” and “any news was good.”
Same old Donald.
On April 3, 2016 Ivana Trump gave a rare interview to the NY Post where among other choice nuggets Ivana claims: “He loves women, but he’s not a feminist.”
If only we had listened to Ivana.
© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2022 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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