What Donald Trump learned from his divorce from Ivana
The funeral of former President Donald Trump’s first wife, Ivana, was held on a hot July day at St. Vincent Ferrer’s Roman Catholic Church on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, not far from the home of city where she died at the age of 73. golden coffin sitting next to a large billboard from her 1992 vanity lounge cover, which said Ivana Be a star! The story, by Bob Colacello, chronicled the junketing and jet-setting that accompanied Ivana’s efforts to reinvent herself after her divorce from Donald in 1990.
Even though, at the time of her death, Ivana had been out of public view for years, she had helped make Donald, as the editor who put her on that magazine cover told me.
“I think Ivana played an extremely important role in the rise of Donald Trump – she domesticated the beast socially,” said Tina Brown (who left vanity lounge become an editor the new yorker shortly after). “Before and after her, you have never seen Trump at a high level rally or a cultural opening. She brought him into circles he had ogled from the outside and created a glamorous aura.
Ivana may have succeeded in lifting the couple into more exclusive echelons of Manhattan society, but it was their separation, not their pairing, that primarily made them prominent figures in the new culture of the 1960s. 1990s of tabloid-driven stardom. I was only 12 in 1990, but even a middle schooler couldn’t have been innocent of the Trumps’ divorce.
At breakfast, my father-in-law and I would take turns reading the New York Post and the Daily News. Then I would walk to school. Every morning on Lexington Avenue, I passed a posh sock store that featured elaborate and bustling window displays of the latest divorce episode, sometimes with enlarged copies of a front page from one of the tabloids. I remember one day a huge moving mechanical check with Ivana’s name on it.
Donald gave a lot in the divorce – precipitated, after all, by his high-profile affair with Marla Maples. Ivana’s divorce lawyer was Michael Kennedy, a crusader lawyer (and friend of my parents) known for representing members of the Weather Underground and the United Farm Workers. With his help, Ivana obtained: 14 million dollars for herself; $650,000 a year in alimony and alimony to raise Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric; a mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut; and an apartment on the Upper East Side.
But what Donald got from Ivana’s divorce was a realization that showing off shamelessly could be boffo. As his biographer, journalist Tim O’Brien, told me: “The lesson Trump learned was that he could endure a grotesque personal debacle, which he sparked by cheating on Ivana, and still walk out. more on the other side. an object of interest than it was before.
The headlines generated by the divorce left the Trump brand gold-plated. The spectacle of their marital disintegration was a kind of sinister but victimless crime involving two people who preyed on media attention while shuffling each other through page 6. “The Trumps were just another hot rod in the ’80s parade of flashy New York crooks,” Tina Brown took over as the vanity lounge the editor, Graydon Carter, told me. “Their divorce – fought over in the pages of the Job and the New than in the courts – raised them to the rank of Grand Marshal.
“All the guns he accumulated in his arsenal were eventually used in his media war with his wife,” O’Brien said. “He had the New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams and she had the Daily News gossip columnist Liz Smith, and these two writers ingested what the Trumps were telling them, and you went to every tabloid to find out how to think about them. This divorce became a touchstone… of how society viewed fame, fame and marriage in 1990s New York.”
Divorce was a gift that kept making headlines, but perhaps the most famous of them all was the Job“The best sex I’ve ever had.” The author of the accompanying article, Jill Brooke, later revealed in an article for The Hollywood Reporter that the splash was born out of Donald’s frustration that Ivana was getting bigger and better coverage than him, so he planted the story himself by calling the Job‘s then-editor, Jerry Nachman, and telling him, “I want a front-page story tomorrow.” In his report on the warring couple for the September 1990 issue of vanity lounge, Marie Brenner quoted an anonymous journalist who exclaimed: “Shit… we created it! We bought his bullshit! He was always an impostor, and we filled our paperwork with him!
“I’ve never known anyone as addicted to attention as him,” writer Kurt Andersen told me. “But for me, in his case, it’s a jones like I’ve never seen. His obsession with fame is truly pathological. It is not figurative; it is not a metaphorical addiction. He had a real addiction. Andersen, along with Carter, was co-founder of the satirical magazine To spy, who is famous for making fun of Donald. But it was a two-way trade.
“Of course, Donald Trump was a natural character, a natural target. He was made for us,” Andersen said. “Trump loved the attention we gave him. Sometimes people blame us for making him famous. But we were trying to kill baby Hitler.
The divorce taught Donald the value of negative attention. Whether people felt disgust, envy or outrage towards him, the outrage only made his mark shine again. This instinct to manipulate bad publicity and turn an audience’s negative emotions into mass entertainment and media spectacle has never left him. That was the subject of his 2016 presidential campaign ad on Trump Tower’s golden escalator: Insulting Mexicans as drug-dealing ‘rapists’ was simply a way to hold the stage as a supervillain. . As he learned from his uber-vanity over sex he had with Marla while cheating on Ivana, our media culture loves an antihero.
Ivana died alone, after an accidental fall at home. Meanwhile, her ex-husband is apparently preparing for another presidential race, surrounded by sycophants and enablers, and still the center of the attention he needs and woos. What he learned by divorcing Ivana, he told us again in 2016: When you’re a star, they let you.