The Story Behind Trump & Marla Maples’ Very Public Divorce

by Sarah Beauchamp
Carlo Allegri/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

In the early '90s, it was difficult to find a tabloid that didn't have Donald Trump and his first wife, Ivana, on the cover. They two were embroiled in a messy divorce after Trump cheated on her with actress Marla Maples. And when Maples and Trump split just six years later, the reason as to why Trump and Maples got divorced became headline news yet again.

Maples and Trump separated after four years of marriage, according to the New York Post. At the time, she called Trump "ego-driven" and "obsessive" to London’s Daily Telegraph, as described in a piece by the Post in 1999. She said her marriage was "built on an illusion" and that she and Trump were never good together as a couple.

"Donald was never the man I wanted to marry," she told the Telegraph. "He and his world were alien to me. I’m so happy to be away from Donald, and I’m just trying to move as far away as I can." A spokeswoman for Maples at the time claimed the Telegraph took her comments "out of context." As for Donald, when talking about the divorce, he said, "Let's say I'm very happy."

Maples raised their daughter, Tiffany, alone in Calabasas, California, following the divorce, according to People. "That was my choice, raising her outside of the spotlight,” Maples told the publication in 2016. “Her daddy is a good provider with education and such, but as far as time, it was just me. Her father wasn’t able to be there with day-to-day skills as a parent. He loves his kids. There’s no doubt. But everything was a bit of a negotiation.”

At the time of the divorce, Maples told the Telegraph of Trump, “Donald was obsessed with me and was always running after me. I couldn’t get away. From the time I was 22, he pursued me and, foolishly, I listened to some of his promises.”

She credits becoming a mother as the reason she had the courage to leave. "After I became a mother I was less willing to put up with his behavior," she said. In an interview with Oprah when the two were still married, though, she said Trump was not controlling, and that she "hoped" she brought him a sense of peace.

More than a decade after the divorce, Maples reflected on the marriage a little bit differently, telling Access Hollywood that she and Trump were just "so different" from each other and that things could get "combative" between them. Maples said:

We're so different. I came from Georgia and family values and a strong sense of spiritual growth, always wanting to be the best I can, and he came with his positive ability to see the world and make money, get out there, and so I think in a marriage you always hope you'll bring out the best in each other, but after many years, we realized we weren't.

At first, Trump's bravado was attractive to her, Maples said, but eventually she wanted to see more of a "change" in her husband, and it wasn't coming. "You know, girls, when we're in our twenties, we want to change the men we're with," Maples said. "We just think that that love is going to make them a little softer, and you think, 'Well I'll learn how to speak out stronger for what I believe in,' because, you know, I'm a Southern girl and I often just smile and keep going, but I have my own thoughts and my own views and it's time now to express them."

In an interview with Howard Stern in 1999, Trump said of his split from Maples, "She was really a good — a good person. You know, with all fairness, we had a great time."