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America’s Favorite Millionaire: Donald Trump and Melania Knauss

When it comes to larger than life figures in the American landscape, very few people can match the size, scope, and flat out weirdness of Donald Trump.  Renowned for his success as a real estate developer, Donald Trump has always appeared as a larger than life figure due to his shrewd manipulation of his public persona.  With an acute understanding of how much cache being a celebrity has on running a successful business, Donald Trump is a uniquely American success story.  A figure that seemingly defined the fiscal optimism of the go go 1980s, Donald Trump has seemingly overcome the odds and continues to be an enduring public figure to this day.  Many would argue that Donald Trump has never been more well known and popular as he is today.

Although Donald Trump can attribute his financial success to his role as a successful New York based real estate developer, he is much more well known as a professional celebrity.  While his hit reality TV show, “The Apprentice,” and his odd appearances on such entertainment endeavors as World Wrestling Entertainment play a big role in keeping the public attention on him, it is ironically his personal exploits that make him such a well known public figure.

For most celebrities, the main goal is to keep out of the tabloids.  However, Donald Trump has managed to harness news about his feuds with other celebrities and his romances with beautiful women as a way to increase his public stature.  His first marriage to Ivana Trump kept Trump in the news in the 1980s.  His later infidelity with Marla Maples, who would become Trump’s second wife, furthered Donald Trump’s reputation for living a lavish life straight out of The Great Gatsby.  His recent public spat with The View co-host, Rosie O’Donnell has brought increased cache to Trump’s reputation as being a person who is richer and lives a better life than others.

Despite this seemingly smug reputation, Donald Trump can trace his popularity down to the fact that he has such a rough, humane public persona.  Although he is extremely financially successful, Trump had to endure a period in which he was bankrupt.  His return to the top is a source of inspiration for many people and his television show, “The Apprentice,” is popular as Trump dispenses business advice and gives one person the chance of a lifetime.  While Donald Trump does live a much better life than most people, it is hard to be jealous of him due to the fact that he is the personification of tackiness.  From his ridiculous hair style to his documented germophobia, Donald Trump is both a person to admire and ridicule.  However, as Donald Trump seems to be very aware of the joke, it makes him a much more approachable and popular celebrity.

His recent celebrity marriage to model Melanie Knauss is another testament to the intriguingly complex relationship that Donald Trump has with the public.  A celebrity that represents fabulous wealth and all that comes with it (including marrying ridiculously beautiful and young women), Donald Trump still somehow remains a sympathetic public figure.  Considering that most entrepreneurs often try to downplay their wealth and maintain a private life, it is fascinating to see how Donald Trump is so popular by embracing the trappings of celebrity.  One look into the fabulous third marriage of Donald Trump and the beautiful Melania Knauss is a good way to analyze exactly why Donald Trump is such a highly regarded celebrity.

Much like many other excessively wealthy celebrities, Donald John Trump was born into wealth.  The son of Frederick and Mary MacLeod Trump, Donald Trump was born into a line of intrepid entrepreneurs.  His grandfather, Frederick Christ Trump, would begin the family’s fortune when he started the Arctic Restaurant and Hotel in British Columbia during the Klondike Gold Rush.  An immigrant who entered America in 1885, Frederick Trump created a family construction business that his son, Frederick Trump, would continue.  This history of success would be expanded into even greater pastures under the supervision of Donald Trump.

Born on June 14, 1946 in Queens, New York, Donald Trump had a very comfortable childhood where he assisted his father in the family’s business, the Trump Organization.  Displaying the precocious energy and assertiveness that would make him such a success at an early age, Donald Trump attended the New York Military Academy when he was 13.  This experience would teach Trump the true nature of competition and would lead to Trump succeeding academically and at sports, where he played varsity football, varsity soccer, and varsity baseball.

From there, Donald Trump would attend Fordham University for a couple of years and would eventually graduate in 1968 from Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelors of science in economics.  With an eye on continuing the family business, Donald Trump would soon join his father in navigating the Trump Organization.  Although he would initially gain some success by revitalizing the Swifton Village apartment complex in Cincinnati, Ohio that would eventually make $6 million in profit, Donald Trump’s influence in real estate is most evident in his home city of New York City.

Taking advantage of a change in city policy that provided tax breaks in exchange for real state investments, Donald Trump would develop some of the properties that are most associated with him in New York City.  He would transform the bankrupt Commodore Hotel into the upscale Grand Hyatt Hotel.  He would take on a series of residential projects including the opulent Trump Tower in Manhattan and would expand his business interests into the airline industry and the casino business.

While Donald Trump can attribute his financial success to his real estate development dealings, his biggest business success is arguably his expert use of marketing himself.  With a larger than life persona and a great nickname, “The Donald,” that his first wife, Ivana Trump, gave him, Donald Trump may not be the biggest real estate developer in the world but he is the most well known.  He has used his name to market a number of products including: Donald J. Trump Men’s Collection, Trump Vodka, Trump Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor, Trump University, and Trump Ice bottled water.  In addition to the products that feature his name, Trump has used his public persona to make appearances on such TV shows and movies as: “Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” “Home Alone 2,” and “Days of Our Lives.”

Although his name carries a certain amount of cache due to his success in the real estate developing world, the main appeal of Donald Trump is based on his celebrity dealings.  His first marriage to former Czechoslovakian Olympic Ski Team member and fashion model, Ivana Zelníčková, was defined by their prominent role in New York high society.  Their wedding on April 7, 1977 was one of the most lavish society weddings in recent history.

Despite having a highly publicized marriage in the 1980s and being a major success, Donald Trump did not have a particularly sympathetic public persona.  However, his battles with bankruptcy in the 1990s and the public revelation of his affair with Georgian beauty queen, Marla Maples, certainly didn’t help matters.  Trump and Ivana Trump would divorce in 1992.  Donald Trump would marry Marla Maples on October 13, 1993 but the two would eventually divorce on June 8, 1999.

The 1990s were not a great decade for Donald Trump.  Viewed as the living embodiment of 1980s greed, a real life Gordon Gekko.  However, through sheer tenacity, Donald Trump was able to turn his fortunes around.  By the late 1990s, Donald Trump’s financial situation was in much better shape, which was evident in the completion of Trump World Tower in New York City.  More importantly was the way that Trump was able to revive his public image.  Viewed now as a nostalgic throwback to high society of older times, Donald Trump was also able to parlay his story of coming back from the threat of bankruptcy into sympathy and widespread respect.  His books, “The Art of the Deal,” and “The Art of the Comeback” were huge hits.  He was such a popular figure that NBC partnered with him in an innovative reality TV show that would show what a person needed to succeed in business under Trump’s tutelage.  The show, “The Apprentice” would go on to be one of the most successful reality TV shows in history and continues to be a massive ratings success.

With a newly more lovable public image that still contained Trump’s trademark outspokenness, the world couldn’t get enough of Donald Trump.  A living symbol of an older generation of entrepreneurs, Donald Trump was viewed as a role model for many people and as actual proof that the American Dream can come true.  With all of his business success and his reputation at an all time high, the only thing that was missing from Donald Trump’s life was a beautiful trophy wife.  This would end on January 22, 2005 when Donald Trump would marry Slovenian beauty Melania Knauss on Palm Beach, Florida.

There’s something about multi-millionaires and Eastern European models that seem so right.  Much like bees and honey, the two just seem to attract each other.  Twenty-four years younger than Donald Trump, Melania Knauss-Trump was born in Sevnica, Slovenia on April 26, 1970.  Her parents were concerned about Melania’s future success and she grew up in a household where her education was emphasized.  Melania Knauss would find success as a model, where in Europe she is considered a supermodel.  Although she did not find the same amount of success in America, she would meet Donald Trump at a fashion event in 1999.

The two would quickly begin dating, and the future Melania Trump would place her modeling career on hold to become involved in New York high society social life.  Often featured on “The Apprentice,” Melania Knauss and Donald Trump would get engaged in 2004.  They would marry in a lavish ceremony on January 22, 2005 at Bethesda by the Sea Episcopal Church.  The wedding was one of the biggest media events of that year and prominent guests included: Bill and Hilary Clinton, Barbara Walters, Tony Bennett, and former New York City mayor, Rudolph Giuliani.

The wedding ceremony itself was a big news story as Melania Trump wore a $200,000 wedding dress that weighed 50 pounds.  This beautiful dress was so large that Melania trump had to sit on a bench for the wedding dinner.  However, this Christian Dior designed wedding dress was ditched in favor for a Vera Wang dress once it was time for the traditional first dance between wife (Melania Trump) and husband (Donald Trump).  This extravagant wedding to celebrate this powerful celebrity marriage also included a 50 pound orange Grand Marnier cake that contained buttercream filling that was covered with 3,000 roses.

To this date, this celebrity marriage continues to stay strong.  On March 20, 2006, Melania Trump would give birth to the couple’s first child, Barron William Trump.  He was Donald Trump’s fifth child and judging from the entrepreneurial spirit that runs through the Trump blood, a person to watch for in the future!