The Advocate July/Aug 2022
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Ivana Trump, First Wife of Donald Trump, Dies at 73

Ivana Trump

Ivana Trump, the first wife of Donald Trump, has died at age 73.

She died today at her home in New York City, the family announced. Paramedics were called to her apartment, where she was found at the bottom of a staircase, unresponsive. “The police are investigating whether she fell and, if so, whether the fall contributed in any way to her death,” ABC News reports.

“Our mother was an incredible woman — a force in business, a world-class athlete, a radiant beauty, and caring mother and friend,” said a statement from the family.

She was married to Donald Trump from 1977 to 1992 and is the mother of three Trump offspring, Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric. An immigrant from Czechoslovakia, she worked in her husband’s businesses for several years, including Trump’s Castle, the Grand Hyatt Hotel, and Trump Tower. She also had a line of clothing and wrote books.

When Ivana and Donald Trump’s marriage broke up, he was having an affair with Marla Maples, whom he subsequently married. In addition to the affair, Ivana Trump said her success in business was responsible for the end of the marriage.

“I was too successful to be Mrs. Trump,” she wrote in Raising Trump, which came out in 2017, shortly after Donald Trump became president. “In our marriage there couldn’t be two stars. So one of us had to go.”

She has taken back allegations made in her divorce documents that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her, calling it just “lawyers’ talk.”

During her husband's presidency, Ivana Trump called herself "first lady," even though Donald was by then married to his third wife, Melania. 

“I [don’t] really want to call [Trump’s White House] because Melania is there,” Ivana said on Good Morning America in 2017. “And I don’t want to cause any kind of jealousy or something like that because I’m basically first Trump wife. OK? I’m [the] first lady.” That raised Melania Trump's ire.

Although Ivana Trump claimed to have supported her ex-husband's move into politics and called herself an unofficial adviser, there's little record of her commenting on his policies, including his anti-LGBTQ+ record, or her own views on LGBTQ+ issues. She was known to attend social and charitable events related to the fight against HIV and AIDS.

She did take credit (or blame) for bringing up the three children she had with him. “I was in charge of raising our children before our divorce, and I had sole custody of them after the split,” she wrote in Raising Trump. “I made the decisions about their education, activities, travel, child care, and allowances. When each one finished college, I said to my ex-husband, ‘Here is the finished product. Now it’s your turn.’”

The three oldest Trump children have, of course, backed their father in most of his actions, such as his anti-transgender policies and his false claims that he was denied reelection in 2020 because of widespread voter fraud. 

Donald Jr. in particular has engaged in anti-trans and generally anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric. At a rally on January 6, 2021, he used a rant against trans women athletes to stir up the mob that went on to invade the U.S. Capitol. In 2019, he sent out a tweet that demonized people with HIV and ignored scientific advances that prevent sexual transmission.

On Trump's presidency generally, Ivana Trump had said that perhaps he shouldn't tweet so frequently (he's now banned from Twitter and has his own social media platform), and in 2018 she said he shouldn't run for a second term and should “just go and play golf and enjoy his fortune.” After he lost the presidency to Joe Biden in 2020, she told People, “I just want this whole thing to be over with, one way or the other. I really don’t care.”

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