Donald Trump's Former Queen Ivana 'Was Paid $1 And All the Dresses She Wants'

Donald Trump and his former wife Ivana Trump during the men's final at the U.S. Open on September 7, 1997. Mike Blake/Reuters

Newsweek published this story under the headline "Ivana, 'Queen of the Castle'" on September 28, 1987. Because of the presence of Donald Trump's family in the media, Newsweek is republishing the story.

They're singing a new song in Trumpdom. Advertisements for Trump's Castle hotel and casino in Atlantic City used to feature the motto "You're the King of the Castle." But last month some of the ads got the royal flush. They were replaced by a slightly more liberated motto: "You're the King and Queen of the Castle."

Casino officials say the change was prompted by complaints from women who felt snubbed by the slogan. Chief among them: Ivana Trump, wife of Donald, chief executive officer of his largest casino—and the real queen of the Castle.

Blond and statuesque, Ivana looks like she would be more at home on the pages of Town & Country, where she once was the subject of a lavish photo spread at the Trumps' Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

But her origins are hardly those of the typical New York socialite. Born in Vienna and reared in Czechoslovakia, she was an alternate on the Czech Olympic ski team before she immigrated to Montreal and became a fashion model. She met Donald Trump at a reception for Olympic athletes. The two fell in love almost immediately and married in 1977. Later Ivana gave birth to the couple's three children and also obtained a decorator's license.

At first her work for Trump's empire was confined largely to interior design. But when Donald opened the Castle in 1985, her horizons expanded. Today Ivana reigns over more than 3,500 employees. She has learned much from her developer husband—some might say too much. Like Donald, she has a reputation as a stern taskmaster. Those who incur her wrath are sometimes subjected to what one employee describes as "the Bengal tiger" routine: "When someone makes a mistake, she doesn't just say 'tut-tut,' she attacks."

That approach has gotten results. In the first three months of 1987, Trump's Castle posted operating profits of $18,227,000, making it the city's best performing casino. Ivana, who oversees everything from the hotel kitchen to the blackjack tables, likens her role to "running a small city." Her salary—"$1 and all the dresses she wants," according to Donald—is OK with Ivana. "Donald," she explains, "gave me my chance."

"Can the First Lady run a casino?"​

The only place Ivana shows up more frequently than the boardroom these days is the social columns. This summer gossip columnists were abuzz with rumors of a feud between her and sister-in-law Blaine Trump—the wife of Donald's younger brother Robert. Ivana calls the report "totally nonsense."

In reality, any lack of warmth between the two women may be explained by their sharply different personalities. Blaine, the former Martha Lindley Blaine Beard Retchin, is a blue blood who dresses conservatively and "is the kind of woman you might have grown up with," says Jane Lane, an editor for Women's Wear Daily; Ivana, the immigrant with a penchant for glitzy dressing, "has more of a hard brilliance."

Glitzier is often better in the casino business—and Ivana's flashy taste has served her well. When a Castle designer suggests installing mirrored beds in the hotel's suites, Ivana is quick to approve. "What the customer wants," she decrees, "the customer gets." What's next for the Queen of the Castle? With her husband hinting at political aspirations, some believe she may be the one who has her sights on the White House. But Ivana sees a potential conflict: "Can the First Lady run a casino?"