A soap opera star with big, blond hair; an ex of Mike Tyson who went on to pose topless on the cover of Playboy; a dismissive supermodel; a socialite fashion designer who, at the time, was married to a billionaire businessman; and an Olympic figure skater so well-known that a collectable, porcelain doll was commissioned in her likeness.
And for a night they were his, according to the New York tabloids.
Donald Trump often brags of his sexual prowess—he once called his sex life in the ’80s “my personal Vietnam”—but what these particular women have in common is not that they succumbed to The Donald’s incredible good looks and yugely charming personality, but rather, they were all similarly horrified to find that they were romantically linked to him at all.
“The rumor of my romantic association with Donald Trump is untrue, unfounded and outrageous,” Peggy Fleming, the three-time Olympic world champion figure skater, said in a statement on Feb. 15, 1990, after the New York Daily News had listed her as one of Trump’s possible mistresses. At the time, Fleming was 41 years old and married with two children.
“The reason I’m going public with my outrage over this allegation is that I had hoped that Donald Trump would issue his own statement of the rumor being completely unfounded, and that has not happened quickly enough,” she said. “I’ve been around Donald Trump four times in my life.”
And then, for good measure, she added, “I wouldn’t even call him a good friend.”
Trump’s tendency to exaggerate and welcome with open arms gossip that makes him look good was harmless when he was just a real estate mogul and tabloid darling who wanted to sell some books (and, eventually, rise to reality TV stardom). But 26 years later, Trump finds himself on a much larger, more important stage and the evidence suggests his personality has not evolved to match the seriousness of his new role as the Republican Party's de facto, if temporary, leader.
Trump and his first wife, Ivana, a gaudy blond skier and model from the Czech Republic, split in 1990 after 13 years of marriage. It was the biggest, most incredible, luxurious divorce to ever hit Manhattan and it left Trump a free man on the prowl, with a Trump Tower penthouse and a 128-room estate, Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Florida.
But before they parted ways, there were murmurs of infidelity in the very New York tabloids that made Trump a star in the first place. A friend of Trump and Ivana told New York magazine in October 1990 that people “noticed a certain restlessness” in Trump as far back as 1987.
“You felt something wasn’t staked down,” the friend said.
Some of those murmurs—like the ones regarding Marla Maples, then a bit actress and now Trump’s ex-wife and a Dancing with the Stars contestant—turned out to to be true. Others only served to infuriate or confuse the women who found their names in boldface next to Trump’s.
Catherine Oxenberg, the glamorous Dynasty star who played Princess Diana in two different TV movies, called rumors about her and Trump “a complete joke as far as I’m concerned,” according to a 1990 People report.
“I hardly know the man,” she said.
Georgette Mosbacher, the cosmetics baron, told People, “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” when asked about her alleged liaisons with Trump.
A spokesman for supermodel and 1982 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue covergirl Carol Alt, who at the time was married to Ron Greschner of the New York Rangers, seemed insulted by any gossip that suggested she would date The Donald.
“Donald Trump is a fortunate man,” her manager, Steve Gutstein, said, “but he’s not that fortunate.”
And Carolyne Roehm, a socialite and designer who, in 1990, was married to Trump’s fellow-billionaire Henry Kravis, completely dismissed the Trump rumors that dogged her. “It’s ridiculous. I’m married to the greatest man in the world,” Roehm said.
Occasionally, Trump dismissed rumors about his sex life himself.
When he was linked to Robin Givens, who divorced Mike Tyson in 1989, he said, “I see the names of women I’m supposed to have slept with. They named two that I never met. Two others I shook hands with. Then, they named Robin Givens. Can you imagine? At the time, she was married. Would I want that jealous husband after me?”
Givens refused to comment at the time, but in 2007, she dismissed the allegation to Larry King.
But more often, Trump has served to stoke the flames.
He appeared on the March 1990 cover of Playboy, next to a woman who would have been naked were it not for his tuxedo jacket.
In the accompanying article, Trump was asked if his marriage, then on the rocks, was monogamous.
“I don’t have an answer to that,” he said. “I think everybody likes knowing he’s well responded to,” he said when asked if he flirted.
He added, “Especially as you get into a certain strata where there is an ego involved and a high level of success.”
In The Art of The Comeback, he wrote about an engaged woman “who was socially prominent” bumping into him on Fifth Avenue and hitching a ride back to her apartment in his limousine. “Within five seconds” of the door closing, he wrote, she was “jumping on top of me wanting to get screwed.”
In fact, he wrote, “If I told the real stories of my experiences with women, often seemingly very happily married and important women, this book would be a guaranteed bestseller (which it will be anyway!). I’d love to tell all, using names and places, but I just don’t think it’s right.”
Or, perhaps, he just didn’t want to be humiliated by even more beautiful women distancing themselves from him in public.
UPDATE: As of Monday night, Marla Maples is no longer a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars.” She was eliminated from the competition after a performance wherein she dressed up as Ariel from “The Little Mermaid.”