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‘Power blonde’: Tales from Ivana Trump’s decades in the spotlight

Ivana Trump parlayed her marriage to Donald Trump into powerful positions in his real estate empire — and their blockbuster divorce turned her into a celebrity who advised women: “Don’t get mad — get everything!”

The former Olympic skier and model from the former Czechoslovakia was described in a 1988 Vanity Fair profile titled “Power Blonde” as “every bit as driven and disciplined as her husband, though more privately so.”

But his infamous affair with Marla Maples catapulted Ivana to the front pages as she battled over terms of their epic 1991 split.

In the years after, Ivana authored thinly disguised novels, wrote advice columns and hawked jewelry, clothing and beauty products on cable TV shopping networks.

Here are some tales of Ivana, who died Thursday at 73, from her decades in the spotlight:

Donald and Ivana Trump were married from 1977 until their divorce in 1992.
Getty Images

How they met

Ivana and Donald met in 1976 at Maxwell’s Plum, an Upper East Side restaurant and singles bar owned by the late Warner LeRoy, son of famed movie director Werner LeRoy.

“Ivana told me a story about how she couldn’t get a table and Donald, this handsome guy, walked up to her and got her a table,” her publicist, Todd Shapiro, said Thursday.

“They were both young, she was a model at the time. So Ivana went back to her girlfriends and said, ‘I got good news and I got bad news. The good news, we got a table. The bad news is we gotta sit with this guy.’”

Shapiro added: “When she got out of Maxwell’s Plum, there was Donald Trump with a limousine, standing outside waiting for her.”

“The only problem was, according to Ivana, Donald’s limousine driver had off, so Donald had to drive the limo himself,” he said.

“She wound up leaving her boyfriend.”

Fury on the slopes

Ivana and Maples, who later became the second Mrs. Trump, were introduced Dec. 28, 1989, during a party in Aspen, Colo., where Donald’s philandering was an open secret.

“I couldn’t believe it,” an attendee told The Post a short time later.

“People were cringing, waiting for the sparks to fly.”

The women parted without incident but met again two days later at a popular lunch spot on Ajax Mountain where Maples confronted her lover’s wife — in his presence, according to a source who heard about the incident.

Ivana Trump outside The Plaza Hotel, which she served as the manager of.
Even after their marriage, Ivana played a large role in many of her ex-husband’s businesses, most notably The Plaza Hotel.
Getty Images

“I love him and if you don’t, why don’t you let him go?” Maples demanded.

Ivana erupted, cursing at Maples and furiously mispronouncing her name as “Moolah,” after which Donald told her, “You’re over-reacting,” the source said.

On New Year’s Eve, Donald showed up at a party with Maples, after which Ivana phoned host David Koch and asked if her hubby was there with “his girlfriend.”

When the late energy tycoon laughed nervously, Ivana “thought he was laughing at her,” a source who was there said.

“That was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” the source added.

During a 1991 interview with Barbara Walters, Ivana gave a milder account of the incident with Maples, who she said told her, “I’m Marla and I love your husband. Do you?”

“I said, I really said, I said, ‘Get lost. I love my husband very much,’” she recalled.

“It was very unladylike, but it was as much as I really could, that was as much as I, as harsh as maybe I could be.”

‘The First Wives Club’

After divorcing Donald in December 1990, Ivana was among several bold-face names who made cameo appearances in the 1996 hit comedy “The First Wives Club.”

The movie starred Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton as divorcees seeking revenge against their ex-husbands for leaving them to marry younger women.

In her memorable appearance, Ivana told the trio, “Ladies, you have to be strong and independent.”

“And remember: Don’t get mad — get everything!”

Under terms of a 1987 post-nuptial agreement, Ivana received a $10 million, lump-sum payment from Donald, who also agreed to pay her $350,000 a year in maintenance.

Campaign advisor

After years of flirting with a presidential run, Donald entered the 2016 race and made history with his surprise victory over Hillary Clinton.

Donald and Ivana Trump
Ivana served as a campaign advisor for her ex-husband’s 2016 run for president.
Getty Images

But in an exclusive, pre-election interview with The Post, Ivana revealed that their acrimonious split actually kept him from pulling the trigger until then.

“Probably five years before our divorce, Reagan or somebody brought him a letter and said, ‘You should run for president,’” she said at the time.

“But then…there was the divorce, there was the scandal, and American women loved me and hated him. So, there was no way that he would go into [politics] at that point.”

Ivana also said she was serving as a sounding board for her ex, who she famously dubbed “The Donald” in a 1989 interview with Spy magazine.

“We speak before and after the appearances and he asks me what I thought,” she said.

Ivana said her advice often amounted to “be more calm.”

“But Donald cannot be calm,” she said.

Following his election, Ivana also told The Post, “I will suggest that I be ambassador for the Czech Republic.”

“[That] is where I’m from and my language and everybody knows me,” she said.

Once a model, always a model

Fashion designer Dennis Basso, who was friends with Ivana for nearly 40 years, said they were introduced because “I was a designer and she was interested in my collection.”

“I met her in September 1983. I had my first fashion show. She was front row, when Trump Tower was just opening,” he recalled.

Ivana Trump skiing in Switzerland
Fashion designer Michael Basso discussed how he and Ivana bonded during their skiing trips in Aspen.
Sygma via Getty Images

“She arrived, she came with Donald Trump and she became an immediate client and we ended up with a 40-year love affair.”

Basso said both he and Ivana often spent Christmas in Aspen and that his husband, Michael Basso, would ski with her, “the kids and other friends.”

“I was still basically buckling my boots,” he said.

“She’d say, ‘You know what? Just forget it. Just tell people that the skiing was great today.’ And, ‘You know, you’re never going to make it down that mountain.’”

But Basso said his favorite memory of Ivana “was when she finaled my fashion show 25 years ago.”

“She came down the runway wrapped in golden sable,” he said.

“It was an amazing look. She wore many, many designers. That’s what I always loved about her.”

Ivana Trump on a helicopter to New York City in 1987.
Trump’s business savvy extended beyond her management of The Plaza, but also kept her frugal.
Getty Images

Frugal shopper

In September 1991, Ivana and Donald were spotted shopping together, post-divorce, at a Kmart store in Pottstown, Penn.

“A lot of people were surprised when they walked in,” store manager Dave Eaton told The Post at the time.

“They’re the biggest celebrities we’ve had here in a while.”

Son Donald Jr., who was with them, was attending a prep school nearby and his parents picked out sheets, bedspreads, toothpaste, shampoo and “all the usual things a student needs in the dormitory,” Eaton said.

The total cost came to more than $200, which Donald tried to pay with an American Express card, which the store didn’t take — forcing him to fork over cash.

Despite their bitter split, Ivana and Donald smiled and chatted the whole time, and Donald posed for photos and signed autographs, shoppers said.

News of the shopping trip came just days after Page Six revealed that Ivana had been seen buying knockoffs of Chanel and Hermes handbags in San Remo, Italy.

Ivana Trump in 2018.
Ivana Trump was described as a “power blonde.”
Patrick McMullan via Getty Image

The meal must go on

Former Vanity Fair columnist George Wayne said his memories of “my godmama Ivana” included an “unforgettable dinner party” she hosted in the kitchen of The Plaza Hotel, which she renovated after Donald bought it in 1998.

The event for “a few guests” was scheduled for Jan. 17, 1991 — the same night the US launched “Operation Desert Storm” against Iraq for invading Kuwait — but Ivana “refused to cancel,” Wayne said.

“She was introducing her new chef Kerry Simon — these were the days she was the queen of the Plaza Hotel,” he said.

“I’ll always remember the most exquisite chef’s dinner in the kitchen and watching CNN as bombs dropped.”

Wayne added: “We sipped Veuve Cliquot, her favorite champagne, on that occasion and so many others.”

‘So classy, so elegant’

One of Ivana’s favorite restaurants was Nello on the Upper East Side, where she often dined twice a week at a corner table, general manager Atilla Cetin said.

Her favorite dish there was osso buco, he said.

“When she’d walk in the restaurant, she always said ‘Hi’ to everyone,” he said.

“She never refused any conversation with anyone. She was so classy, so elegant – how she walked, how she sat, how she talked. It was like she was from a palace.”

After her last visit, about three weeks ago, Cetin said, “I walked her to her house.”

“Paparazzi took a picture of us and she texted me, ‘Look. you’re famous,’” he recalled.

“Yesterday, I almost stopped by her house to ask her how she was doing because I was worried. I said, ‘Maybe she’s not here or sleeping, don’t bother.’ I wish I did.”

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