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The woman who helped Trump to the top

Donald and Ivana, 1987. Tom Gates/Getty

One fateful evening in the summer of 1976, a 30-year-old Donald Trump visited the Manhattan singles bar Maxwell’s Plum, says Gwenda Blair in Politico. There he met Ivana Zelnickova Winklmayr, a 27-year-old Czech model in town for a fur show. He “paid her tab and sent roses”, and they were married within a year, soon becoming the “pre-eminent power couple” of 1980s New York. Brash Donald couldn’t work his way to the centre of Manhattan’s “stodgy” real-estate circle alone, but with the help of Ivana – a “blonde bombshell” and relentless networker – he was unstoppable.

The two were so much alike that Donald described her as his “twin as a woman”. Both were hyper-competitive: as a child, Ivana broke several bones training for competitive skiing but refused to quit. And both were “hardnosed about money”. Just before their wedding, Donald presented Ivana with a “tight-fisted prenup”, but she refused to go ahead with the ceremony until it was made “marginally less stingy”. While Donald immersed himself in deal-making, Ivana was his “eyes and ears”. Dressed in a “Gucci pantsuit and Manolo spike heels”, she would grill managers at the construction site of Donald’s first Manhattan development.

In 1990, news broke of his affair with Marla Maples. In the ensuing divorce settlement, Ivana, who died last week aged 73, “emerged with a fraction of what she’d expected”. But she held on to the Trump surname, and after the split she built a multimillion-dollar fashion and beauty empire of her own, “optimising the power of the brand she had helped to create”.

💄⚰️ The Trumps appear to have displayed Ivana’s 1992 Vanity Fair cover at her funeral, points out TV critic Daniel D’Addario on Twitter, with one crucial change. They’ve edited out the headline in the bottom-right corner about Hillary Clinton’s White House ambitions.