Trump's Bill Clinton infidelity gibe revives memories of Marla Maples

Trump's Bill Clinton infidelity gibe revives memories of Marla Maples

January 19th, 2016 by Steve Johnson in Local Regional News

She was the local girl who made good; the Georgia Peach who stole one from the Big Apple, and her marriage to real estate mogul Donald Trump in 1993 was the talk of her hometown of Cohutta — and the rest of the nation.

But before she was Mrs. Donald Trump, Marla Maples was The Donald's mistress, a blonde beauty who had a tawdry affair, sometimes staying in a hotel room a floor below Trump and his wife to make an assignation easier. When Ivana Trump finally discovered what was happening, Maples was named as the other woman in their divorce. The tabloids were in heaven.

Donald Trump and then-wife Marla Maples Trump pose for a photo at the Plaza Hotel in New York on May 10, 1995. The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Metro New York paid tribute to Marla Maples Trump at "An Evening of Angels " gala dinner dance and auction, honoring her charitable works and outreach efforts for the city's children.

Donald Trump and then-wife Marla Maples Trump pose...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Marla Maples and Donald Trump leave St. Mary's Hospital in West Palm Beach, Fla., with their newborn baby girl, Tiffany, on Oct. 14, l993.

Marla Maples and Donald Trump leave St. Mary's...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Co-host Marla Maples looks on as Miss Venezuela Alicia Machado reacts to being crowned Miss Universe at the Miss Universe pageant at the Aladdin Theatre in Las Vegas, Nev., on May 17, 1996.

Co-host Marla Maples looks on as Miss Venezuela...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

The affair had been largely forgotten until this month when Trump, as the Republican presidential frontrunner, blasted Hillary Clinton for what he called the sexist way her husband, Bill, treated women — in particular, Monica Lewinsky, the White House intern with whom he had an affair.

That surprised most political commentators, who wondered why Trump would raise a topic that inevitably would focus attention on his own personal misdeeds.

It brought a sense of déjà vu to North Georgia residents who were caught up in "Marla Madness."

These days, Maples is keeping a low profile on her past with Trump — instead focusing on furthering her New Age music career.

Her father, real estate developer Stan Maples, might wish his own profile was a little lower. With a listed phone number, he already is tired of calls from the press and has no interest in talking about Trump, he said Friday.

"I've received hundreds of calls from all over the country," he said. "But I don't want to have anything to do with it. I think you understand."

For others, talk of Maples and Trump brings back fond memories.

One of them is Traya Miller, the 1991 homecoming queen at Northwest High School in Tunnel Hill. The lights burned a little brighter that night because it was previous homecoming queen Marla Maples, accompanied by her then-boyfriend Donald Trump, who put the crown on her head.

"To be honest, the entire night was a wonderful blur," said Miller, now married and a middle school counselor in Dalton. "The excitement and shock of being selected as homecoming queen coupled with celebrities actually attending our homecoming game was enough to leave a young 17-year-old North Georgia senior in shock."

For Miller, Maples outshone Trump.

"I mostly remember how beautiful and kind Ms. Maples was to me," she said. "Mr. Trump was very kind, as well, but Ms. Maples at the time was a hometown celebrity, so a lot of the focus was on her."

Longtime Dalton floor-covering executive Dan Bowen can claim some credit for making Marla what she is today, creating the tongue-in-cheek Miss Resaca Beach beauty contest that Maples won when it was first held in 1983.

"We sent her around to the wholesale [carpet] distributors to sign posters," Bowen said. "She had a great personality, and it was a good start to the contest to have her as our first winner."

Bowen said Maples still remembered him when he bumped into her a few months ago at Panera Bread in Dalton. But is the Marla connection enough to make him a Trump supporter?

"He's touched a nerve and from that viewpoint has done some good," Bowen said. But it's not enough to win his vote — he's a Ted Cruz man.

How much traction the Clinton and Trump scandals get with the voters this election season may depend on whether the women they were involved with are interested in keeping the story alive.

With Clinton, Lewinsky has generally kept quiet, most recently getting involved in a campaign against online bullying. But some of Clinton's accusers from earlier in his career are again trying to attract attention. Juanita Broaddrick, who accused Clinton 17 years ago of sexually assaulting her in the 1970s, recently repeated her accusations on Twitter.

Details of Maples' divorce agreement with Trump are not public, and first wife Ivana signed a confidentiality agreement preventing her from commenting on her marriage. Whether Maples signed a similar agreement is unclear, but she has said nothing significant about Trump in public since a 1998 interview prior to her divorce becoming final.

Maples' agent, the J Pervis Talent Agency in Atlanta, did not respond to requests for an interview, but she doesn't hide her connection to her ex. When former football star and sports commentator Frank Gifford died last August, she posted a photo of herself and Trump with Gifford and his wife, TV host Kathie Lee. According to her Facebook postings, she moved from Los Angeles to New York City over the summer, with a brief interlude in North Georgia — at one point posing with a fire truck from the Cohutta Fire Department. Otherwise her posts are often about New Age philosophy.

In an interview with New York magazine in 1998, Maples said she and Trump might have made their marriage last if they'd had more privacy.

"If we could have somehow stayed away from the public and the press," she said, "it might have been different, but every private issue seemed to be played out on the front page."

But with Donald Trump, hiding from the public and press was never possible. They separated in 1997 and divorced in 1999.

Contact reporter Steve Johnson at sjohn, 423-757-6673, on Twitter @stevejohnsonTFP and on Facebook,