Marla Maples: Things You Didn't Know About Her

Marla Maples is an enigmatic figure who has circled the far edge of pop culture for more than 20 years, due primarily to whom she's known rather than the things she's done herself. As a result, her public profile still has an air of mystery to it, sidelined as she is by those more famous, controversial, and hungry for the spotlight.

So who is Marla Maples? The 53-year-old native Georgian is a woman of contradictions, a southern-fried hippie and "a vegan, yet part-time carnivore" who believes in wellness as a core guiding principle for her life as an actress, singer-songwriter, and mom. Oh, and she was married to now-President Donald Trump for six years in the '90s, a relationship that drew more than its fair share of tabloid attention over the course of the decade. She's always up in the news being mentioned for some reason or another, these days—so let's dive deep and find out who she really is.

She had a turn on Broadway

Not everybody can say they had a stint on Broadway, but not everybody leads the unusual life of Marla Maples. She made her debut in the only show she'd ever do in 1992, playing the character of "Ziegfeld's Favorite" in a lighthearted show about Oklahoma's favorite son, The Will Rogers Follies. And when she did, Donald Trump, then her fiancé, went signing autographs in the lobby.

While reviews of her performance weren't particularly laudatory, she performed under intense scrutiny as the butt of some jokes, with many in the audience awaiting a failure on her part that didn't end up materializing. It wasn't exactly the smoothest start to a romance; the Marla-Donald courtship had only recently become "legitimized" after a long-term clandestine affair, and people were rooting against the couple in a number of ways. Some behind the scenes on Broadway didn't much care that an untrained actress had landed a role so easily, and few thought there was any mystery as to why she got it. "It's amazing what a little money can do," said the mother of one of the show's less-prominent performers. But to her credit, Marla proved them wrong, never giving her haters the pie-in-the-face moment they all wanted.

She visited a town called Bel-Air

In 1994, Maples and her then-husband Donald Trump appeared on an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, in which the happy couple becomes interested in buying the Banks family's mansion—an offer they turn down after reminiscing about the four seasons of great memories they've had in the place. The power couple's visit yields mixed results from the Banks family; Carlton faints, while Ashley confronts The Donald for "ruining my life." "Everybody's always blaming me for everything," Trump retorts, much to the pleasure of Democrats today. You can watch the Emmy-worthy clip here.

Music for the mindful

Taking a cue from benefit productions like "We Are the World" and Live 8, Marla Maples is also an advocate of spreading peace and love through music. And she puts her money where her mouth is as a performer, through folk albums like One World of Love, which she describes on her website as being good for "Inspiration, Oneness, Unity, [&] Teaching". And if you want to get really spiritual, there's her album with Deepak Chopra, The Endless, a relaxing collection of thrumming tunes, ethereal and earthy. It's a spa day sort of album, with wistful lines like "swept away, I'm never lost," and "Show me your world, wrap me like a pearl." Nothing revolutionary, but it's done well, and fits into her whole lifestyle of wellness quite nicely. Play it during a yoga sesh—uplift your mind and body.

She willed herself onto Dancing with the Stars

In early 2016, Maples overcame her reported fear of dancing to compete on the 22nd season of the ABC juggernaut Dancing with the Stars. Her stint on the show was two-fold; not only did she do it for herself, she also honored her late mother's wishes, who as a fan of the show, according to the Daily Beast. Her eventual elimination, which came after weeks of consistent incremental improvement that she called "the hardest work I've ever done," was a hard blow to take, for both her mother and only daughter, Tiffany.

She's protective of her daughter

Marla raised Tiffany as a single mother—she separated from Trump in 1997, about three-or-so years after Tiffany's birth—and for the most part, they were able to lead unassuming lives in Calabasas, California. Of course, that all changed when Trump ascended to the White House in 2016. His unexpected campaign brought many members of the Trump family back into the spotlight, including his children.

Even so, Tiffany, whom Vanity Fair once described as the forgotten Trump, had a tough time getting some of the perks of her father's new gig, including a Secret Service detail, of all things. Fortunately, Tiffany has Maples fighting to ensure that she won't get lost in the D.C. shuffle. "Of course, as a child, you want to be able to get to know your father better, too," Maples told The Daily Beast in the months leading up to the 2016 Presidential Election. "If her father ends up being there [the White House], I'm gonna make sure she's really prepared with the issues that are important to her and have been important to me as a mom in raising her, that she will be an active part in pushing these things through."

Her first acting role was in a Stephen King movie

Though she eventually ended up on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as arm candy for guest star Donald Trump, Marla Maple's career started with her as an actress in her own right. Breaking into the business through a bill-paying, people-pleasing stint as a swimsuit model, her first role in a real movie was as "Woman #2" in Stephen King's Maximum Overdrive, which King not only wrote but, for the first time, directed. There are very few reasons to watch this movie, and Marla, we're sorry say, isn't one of them. But she's fine in it, for what it's worth.

She fought Ivana Trump on the slopes of Aspen

Before he was president, Donald Trump was arguably best known for being one of the mainstays in the sleazy gossip sections of local New York tabloids. His personal life hit peak drama at the end of 1989 when his then-wife, Ivana Trump, allegedly confronted Maples at a ski resort in Aspen, Colorado, over her alleged affair with The Donald.

While the fact that they met for the first time in Aspen is not in dispute, what remains mysterious is just how far the battle went. Among the juicier allegations: People magazine claimed Ivana confronted Maples outside a restaurant, calling her a "b**ch" and demanding, "leave my husband alone." Sources for People also alleged Donald took off on his skis during the spat, after which Ivana allegedly caught up to him and "[skied] backwards down the slopes, wagging her finger in his face." Whatever the case, the couple's divorce was announced a little more than one month later. The relationship between Ivana and Maples allegedly remains awkward to this day, much to the surprise of no one.

She ran away when her affair was exposed

After the Great Aspen Billionaire Wives' Brawl of 1990 blew up, taking Donald Trump's first marriage with it in the blast, Marla Maples was the focus of just about everyone in the New York gossip world. And those people are relentless. Fearing for herself and her sanity, she disappeared, travelling to Guatemala on a borrowed passport to tag along with friends in the Peace Corps. "I knew if I used my own they would find me, and the idea of being in a foreign country alone with the press after me was terrifying," she told New York magazine. "I stayed for a month, away from all that chaos."

She's an advocate for health and wellness

If anything for Marla Maples has been consistent throughout, it's her commitment to health and wellness. You can get all of that from her straight from the source on her website, where she once described herself as "an adventurer with purpose" and "a lover of all things green." A number of admittedly hilarious-sounding items can be found for sale at her store, including a vision board, and copy of the 1998 VHS tape Marla Maples: Journey to Fitness. She's also been working for years on her podcast, Awakening with Marla Maples, which can be downloaded for free—if you're looking to dabble in her particular brand of living well and learn the Marla Maples way, anyway.

She's only been married once

Maples' marriage to Donald Trump ended the same way it began: painfully, and in public. Their divorce stretched on for about two years before Maples walked away with $2 million—pocket change compared to Trump's reported settlement with Ivana. Perhaps unsurprisingly, she never married again.

Still, now that the dust has settled, Maples appears to be a bit more reflective on all that went down during her romance with Trump. "I think you always hope in a marriage that you can bring the best out in each other," Maples told Access Hollywood in 2016 (via Us Weekly). "But after many years, we realized we weren't. And then, you have to move on. You know girls when we're in our twenties. We want to change the men we're with, we think that love is going to make them a little softer, and you think, 'I will learn how to speak out stronger for what I believe in.' Because I'm a Southern girl and I often just smile and keep on going. But I have my own thoughts and my own views, and it's time now to express them."

She's dating a vocal Trump foe

In case there were any doubts as to where her allegiances lie, Maples has recently been romantically linked to Donny Deutsch, a television host and vocal Trump critic. According to Page Six, the two were spotted "dining cozily" together in a Manhattan restaurant, and are apparently in the starting stages of a relationship. If she has a problem with what Deutsch has had to say about her former husband, she's not showing it. Among other things, Deutsch has called Trump a "sociopath," "pathetic," "a pig," and "physically disgusting," at one point even offering to fight the president "in the schoolyard, brother." 

"Enough is enough with this disgusting, vulgar man," Deutsch said. 

Prior to becoming a television personality, Deutsch was the chairman of Deutsch Inc., an advertising agency founded by his father. His success with that company led to his own talk show on CNBC, The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, which ran from 2004 to 2008.  He also fictionalized his life in 2015 with the comedy series Donny!, which ran for one season on USA.

She somehow still runs into her ex

You'd think that one half of this one-time couple becoming President of the United States would put up a wall between their social circles, but somehow, Marla Maples and Donald Trump still manage to run into each other — or at least they show up in the same places. In January, the two attended the same college football game at the University of Georgia, the first sports event that POTUS has seen in person since taking office. Maples was present as a University of Georgia alumni, sharing an Instagram video taken from the Georgia Bulldogs' side of the stadium. Trump, meanwhile, watched the game from a box on the Alabama side. With the stadium being so large and Trump being ringed in by security, it's not the most awkward encounter in the world — but it is amusing.