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Ivana Trump - Biography

Czech-American businesswoman Ivana welcomed three children with her ex Donald Trump

Ivana Trump in glam dress © Getty
Phoebe Tatham
Content Writer
Updated: July 27, 2023
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Who is Ivana Trump? 

She was the ultimate Eighties wife. And when her marriage broke up she reinvented herself, becoming the role model of ex-wives the world over. With her battle cry of "Don't get mad get everything," Ivana Trump is one of America's best-known, best-loved celebrities.

"Women relate to Ivana because she suffered," says New York gossip columnist Cindy Adams. "If she is over the top with her wardrobe, or the things she says, it is forgiven because she has been beaten down and she has risen to the top. America loves an underdog."

Her Early Life

Born on February 20, 1949, in the Czech factory town of Zlin, Ivana Zelnicek spent the first few months of her life in an incubator. Her father Milos, believing it would toughen up the sickly toddler, taught Ivana to ski and swim when she was just two years old. It was a tactic which evidently paid off Ivana later became a member of the country's youth ski team, although Olympic selectors passed her over for the 1972 squad. 

Ivana seemed to have it all. Former classmates describe her as clever, pretty, tall and svelte and, even as a teenager, her drive had already begun to manifest itself. This she put down to a lesson learnt at the age of 13. "When I was doing poorly at school, my father yanked me out and got me a job in a shoe factory," she told an interviewer. 

"After three weeks I begged him to give me another chance at doing well in school. I learned that discipline is necessary to accomplish anything in life." After obtaining a Masters degree in physical education at Charles University in Prague, Ivana emigrated to Canada. 

She had married an Austrian skier, Alfred Winklmayr, in 1971, meaning she was able to leave Communist-controlled Czechoslovakia. After learning English in Toronto, she moved to Montreal where she got a job as a model and spent two successful years on the catwalks.

Her Personal Life

While she was sharing a drink with some fellow models in a New York singles bar called Maxwell's Plum in 1976, Ivana's destiny walked in. His name was Donald Trump (or The Donald, as Ivana later dubbed him), an entrepreneur who had inherited his father's $20-million real estate and development business. 

Nine months later they were married, and in the course of time had three children, Donald Jr, Ivanka, and Eric. In the New York of the Eighties, the Trumps were a force to be reckoned with. The Donald's knack of generating greenbacks, combined with Ivana's talent for publicity, hastened their rise to the top of Big Apple society. 

When the businessman bought New York's Plaza Hotel, he installed his wife as president on a $1-a-year salary, plus all the couture frocks she wanted estimated at costing around half a million a year. The couple acquired more property than they had kids including a triplex penthouse in Trump Tower with 50-odd rooms, not to mention their own Boeing 727.

Storm clouds were threatening in the golden couple's relationship, however, and Ivana confronted her husband after blonde aspiring actress Marla Maples told her, on the ski slopes of Aspen, that she was in love with Ivana's husband. Two months later, the Trumps separated. 

A 13-month legal battle over financial settlement ensued, with Ivana, who was granted a divorce on the grounds of "cruel and inhumane treatment", eventually getting a $25-million payout, $10 million of which was in cash. Suddenly Ivana was on her own, and loving it. 

She decided to build her own empire, dubbing it Ivana Inc, and by 1997 just one arm of her business, the clothes range House Of Ivana, was worth $50 million a year. She has also written, with the help of a ghost writer, two novels and a guide to divorce entitled The Best Is Yet To Come, as well as establishing a magazine, Ivana's Living In Style.

Just months after her divorce, Ivana met Riccardo Mazzucchelli. The Italian businessman was immediately smitten and proposed. Ms Trump held off, however, until the end of 1995 when she and the man she described as a "typical Italian macho", said "I do" in a New York hotel. Twenty-two months later, they both said, "We don't". 

Almost immediately Ivana took up with another beau Ferrari dealer Roffredo Gaetani di Laurenzana dell'Aquila d'Aragona Lovatelli - to give him his full name - who she met at the Red Cross Ball in Monaco. When that relationship ended she found a new escort in Rossano Rubicondi, a handsome male model 24 years her junior. 

After six years together, they married at Donald's Mar-A-Lago estate in lavish style on April 12, 2008. But by the following December Ivana was admitting the union was over and a legal separation was in the works.Yet whether she is in a high-profile relationship or dynamically single, Ivana is a trooper and she knows it. "A woman is like a tea bag," she once told HELLO!. "You never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water."

Her Death

Ivana passed away in July 2022 aged 73 after reportedly falling down the stairs in her New York apartment. "Our mother was an incredible woman - a force in business, a world-class athlete, a radiant beauty, and caring mother and friend," the Trump family said in a statement.

"Ivana Trump was a survivor. She fled from communism and embraced this country. She taught her children about grit and toughness, compassion and determination," it continued. 

"She will be dearly missed by her mother, her three children and ten grandchildren."

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