Ivana Trump, first wife of former President Trump, dies at 73

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Ivana Trump, a skier turned businesswoman who formed half of a publicity power couple in the 1980s as the first wife of former President Trump and mother of his oldest children, died Thursday at her home in Manhattan, her family announced. She was 73.

“I am very saddened to inform all of those that loved her, of which there are many, that Ivana Trump has passed away at her home in New York City,” Donald Trump posted on Truth Social, the social media platform he founded after being suspended from Twitter.

“She was a wonderful, beautiful, and amazing woman, who led a great and inspirational life. Her pride and joy were her three children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric. She was so proud of them, as we were all so proud of her. Rest In Peace, Ivana!”

The Trump family also released a statement. "It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved mother, Ivana Trump. Our mother was an incredible woman — a force in business, a world-class athlete, a radiant beauty, and caring mother and friend. Ivana Trump was a survivor.

Donald Trump, from left, New York City Mayor Ed Koch, and Ivana Trump at the Plaza Hotel in New York.
Donald Trump, from left, New York City Mayor Ed Koch and Ivana Trump at a gala at the Plaza Hotel in New York in 1989. (Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

“She fled from communism and embraced this country,” the statement continued. “She taught her children about grit and toughness, compassion and determination. She will be dearly missed by her mother, her three children and ten grandchildren.”

Neither her children nor her ex-husband disclosed a cause of death. But two people familiar with the matter told the Associated Press that police are investigating whether Ivana Trump fell down the stairs and believe her death was accidental.

She was found unconscious near a staircase in the home, the people said.

The medical examiner’s office said Friday that it ruled Trump’s death an accident, caused by blunt impact injuries to the torso.

“It’s been a very sad day, a very sad day,” Eric Trump said as he left his mother’s Manhattan home.

In the 1980s, the Trumps were the ultimate power couple in New York before their equally public, and messy, divorce after Donald Trump met his next wife, Marla Maples. In a deposition, Ivana Trump at the time accused Trump of raping her, though she later said she did not mean that literally.

But in recent years, Ivana Trump had been on good terms with her former husband. She wrote in a 2017 book that they spoke about once a week.

She became an icon in her own right, dripping with ’80s style and elegance, complete with her signature beehive hairdo. She influenced the look of the over-the-top Patsy Stone in the classic British sitcom “Absolutely Fabulous,” with the character extolling Trump as “tremendous” in one episode.

Ivana Trump had a long list of cameos on TV and in movies, including the 1996 hit “The First Wives Club.” At the end of the film — which co-starred Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton — she uttered the now-famous lines, “Ladies, you have to be strong and independent. And remember, don’t get mad. Get everything!”

The Trumps became partners in love and business, with Ivana playing roles such as manager of one of his Atlantic City casinos in New Jersey. She worked tirelessly there and also had a hand in making Trump Tower an image of ’80s success, helping the decorator and taking a strong interest in such details as the doormen’s uniforms, said Barbara Res, a former Trump Organization executive who was in charge of the skyscraper’s construction.

“She did all that to impress Donald, to win his approval," Res said. "She was traveling back and forth all the time, and leaving her kids. She had a tremendous work ethic.”

Donald Trump would say at times that he regretted having Ivana join him in business and blamed it for the unraveling of his marriage.

“I think that putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing,” he told ABC News in the early 1990s. “If you’re in business for yourself, I really think it’s a bad idea to put your wife working for you,” he said, complaining that when she turned into a businessperson, “a softness disappeared.”

Nevertheless, Ivana ultimately remained friendly with her ex-husband, whom she famously called “The Donald.” She enthusiastically backed his 2016 White House run, saying he would “make big changes” in the United States and told the New York Post that she was giving him suggestions on his campaign.

“We speak before and after the appearances and he asks me what I thought,” she said. She said she advised him to “be more calm.”

“But Donald cannot be calm,” she added. “He’s very outspoken. He just says it as it is.”

However supportive, she occasionally ruffled feathers.

In 2017, while promoting a book, she told “Good Morning America” that she spoke with the then-president about every two weeks and had his direct White House number but didn’t want to call too frequently “because [First Lady] Melania is there and I don’t want to cause any kind of jealousy or something like that because I’m basically first Trump wife, OK?” she said with a laugh. “I’m first lady, OK?”

Melania Trump’s spokesperson at the time said there was “clearly no substance to this statement from an ex, this is unfortunately only attention-seeking and self-serving noise.”

Ivana Trump had continued her business ventures in recent years, promoting an Italian weight-loss diet in 2018.

Her death came during a fraught week for the Trump family. Two of her children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka, and the former president are due to appear in coming days for questioning in the New York attorney general’s civil investigation into the family’s business practices.

She was born Ivana Zelnickova in 1949 in the Czechoslovak city of Gottwaldov, the former city of Zlin that just had been renamed by the communists, who took over the country in 1948. She married Trump in 1977.

She was married four times, most recently to Italian actor Rossano Rubicondi. The two divorced in 2009 after a year of marriage but continued to see each other off and on until 2019, when she told the New York Post the relationship had run its course. He died last year of cancer at 49.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.