Dear Commons Community,
Ivana Trump, ex-wife of Donald Trump, died Thursday afternoon. She was 73. The cause of her death was an accident probably due to injuries suffered in a fall.
Though her high-profile marriage to the former president catapulted her into the limelight in the late ’70s, Ivana was much more than just Mrs. Trump – she was a savvy businesswoman, an athlete, a writer, a multifaceted clothing and jewelry designer, and above all, a proud mother adored by her children. Below is an obituary courtesy of People.
Born Ivana Marie Zelníčková in Zlin, a factory town in then-Communist Czechoslovakia, she was the only child of Marie, a telephone operator, and Milos, an engineer who died in 1990. Ivana skied competitively as a child and was a member of the national ski team, and the sport provided the metaphor that ruled her life.
“When you are going down a mountain at 80 miles an hour, you cannot count on Mama or Papa,” she previously told People. “You have to count only on Ivana.”
After graduating from Charles University in Prague with a master’s in physical education, Ivana married Austrian skier Alfred Winklmayr to get a western passport, People previously reported.
When they split two years later, Ivana moved to Montreal, where she modeled. Her stint in the modeling industry led her to meeting Donald while on a shoot in New York City in 1976. They married nine months later, and eventually welcomed three children together: elder son Donald Jr., only daughter Ivanka, and younger son Eric.
“My mother is my inspiration,” Ivanka, also a mom of three, told People in 2016. “She was the ultimate role model. It was always clear to us that we were her priority, but that doesn’t mean we got her 24 hours a day.”
While she and Donald were married, Ivana took on key roles in some of the Trump businesses, including running Trump’s Castle in Atlantic City as CEO. In his book, Trump: The Art of the Deal, the reality-star-turned-politician called Ivana a “great manager,” describing her as “demanding and very competitive.”
“When it comes to running a casino, good management skills are as important as specific gaming experience,” he wrote, per CNN. “She proved me right.”
She also was named president of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan – the first woman to hold that title – in 1988, according to Town & Country, and designed the interiors of the Grand Hyatt Hotel and Trump Tower, per Time.
Less than a year after she and the Apprentice star divorced – the couple split in 1992 – Ivana began dating wealthy Italian businessman Riccardo Mazzucchelli. Though he signed a prenup prior to their 1995 wedding and trailed loyally behind her at conventions and shopping malls, the union fizzled 20 months later.
Ivana would go on to marry once more, tying the knot with Italian actor Rossano Rubicondi in April 2008 after six years of dating.
Ahead of their nuptials, Rubicondi told People, “I am very excited about marrying Ivana. It does not bother me that she is older. She is an amazing woman, the whole package for me. She is an athlete, smart, sexy, funny and an astute businesswoman. We have a great time together.”
The former couple divorced less than a year after tying the knot in Palm Beach, Florida; however, Ivana served as his caretaker while he was secretly ill for the last year of his life. He died in 2021 at the age of 49.
Though Ivana’s love life was often the talk of the tabloids, the mom of three continued to propel her career forward throughout the years, having penned numerous books, including Raising Trump, Free to Love, and The Best Is Yet to Come: Coping with Divorce and Enjoying Life Again.
She also launched her own lifestyle magazine, Ivana’s Living in Style, and wrote an advice column called “Ask Ivana” for Globe from 1995 to 2010.
“I love to be me,” she told People in 2011. “I have fabulous friends, a boyfriend. Life is beautiful.”
In New York City where she lived most of her adult life, she was considered a “class act.”