Donald Trump Biography



Born: 1946
New York, New York

American businessman and real estate developer

An American real estate developer, Donald Trump became one of the best known and most controversial businessmen of the 1980s and 1990s.

Donald Trump. Reproduced by permission of Archive Photos, Inc.
Donald Trump.
Reproduced by permission of
Archive Photos, Inc.

Privileged childhood

Donald John Trump was born in 1946 in Queens, New York City, the fourth of five children of Frederick C. and Mary MacLeod Trump. Frederick Trump was a builder and real estate developer who specialized in constructing and operating middle income apartments in the Queens, Staten Island, and Brooklyn sections of New York. Donald Trump was an energetic and bright child, and his parents sent him to the New York Military Academy at age thirteen, hoping the discipline of the school would channel his energy in a positive manner. Trump did well at the academy, both socially and academically, rising to be a star athlete and student leader by the time he graduated in 1964.

During the summers, Trump worked for his father's company at the construction sites. He entered Fordham University and then transferred to the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, from which he graduated in 1968 with a degree in economics.

Trump seems to have been strongly influenced by his father in his decision to make a career in real estate development, but the younger man's personal goals were much grander than those of his father. After graduating college, Trump joined the family business, the Trump Organization. In 1971 Trump moved his residence to Manhattan, where he became familiar with many influential people. Convinced of the economic opportunity in the city, Trump became involved in large building projects in Manhattan that would offer opportunities for earning high profits, utilizing attractive architectural design, and winning public recognition.

Building an empire

When the Pennsylvania Central Railroad entered bankruptcy, Trump was able to obtain an option (a contract that gives a person the authority to sell something for a specific price during a limited time frame) on the railroad's yards on the west side of Manhattan. When plans for apartments were refused because of a poor economic climate, Trump promoted the property as the location of a city convention center, and the city government selected it over two other sites in 1978. Trump's offer to drop a fee if the center were named after his family, however, was turned down, along with his bid to build the complex.

In 1974 Trump obtained an option on one of the Penn Central's hotels, the Commodore, which was unprofitable but in an excellent location near Grand Central Station. The next year he signed a partnership agreement with the Hyatt Hotel Corporation, which did not have a large downtown hotel. Trump then worked out a complicated deal with the city to revamp the hotel. Renamed the Grand Hyatt, the hotel was popular and an economic success, making Trump the city's best known and most controversial developer.

In 1977 Trump married Ivana Zelnickova Winklmayr, a New York fashion model who had been an alternate on the 1968 Czech Olympic Ski Team. After the birth of the first of the couple's three children in 1978, Donald John Trump, Jr., Ivana Trump was named vice president in charge of design in the Trump Organization and played a major role in supervising the renovation of the Commodore.

In 1979 Trump rented a site on Fifth Avenue next to the famous Tiffany & Company as the location for a monumental $200 million apartment-retail complex designed by Der Scutt. It was named Trump Tower when it opened in 1982. The fifty-eight-story building featured a six-story courtyard lined with pink marble and included an eighty-foot waterfall. The luxurious building attracted well-known retail stores and celebrity renters and brought Trump national attention.

Atlantic City

Meanwhile Trump was investigating the profitable casino gambling business, which was approved in New Jersey in 1977. In 1980 he was able to acquire a piece of property in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He brought in his younger brother Robert to head up the complex project of acquiring the land, winning a gambling license, and obtaining permits and financing. Holiday Inns Corporation, the parent company of Harrah's casino hotels, offered a partnership, and the $250 million complex opened in 1982 as Harrah's at Trump Plaza. Trump bought out Holiday Inns in 1986 and renamed the facility Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino. Trump also purchased a Hilton Hotels casino-hotel in Atlantic City when the corporation failed to obtain a gambling license and renamed the $320 million complex Trump's Castle. Later, while it was under construction, he was able to acquire the largest hotel-casino in the world, the Taj Mahal at Atlantic City, which opened in 1990.

Back in New York City, Trump had purchased an apartment building and the Barbizon-Plaza Hotel in New York City, which faced Central Park, with plans to build a large condominium tower on the site. The tenants of the apartment building, however, who were protected by the city's rent control and rent stabilization programs, fought Trump's plans and won. Trump then renovated the Barbizon, renaming it Trump Parc. In 1985 Trump purchased seventy-six acres on the west side of Manhattan for $88 million to build a complex to be called Television City, which was to consist of a dozen skyscrapers, a mall, and a riverfront park. The huge development was to stress television production and feature the world's tallest building, but community opposition and a long city approval process delayed construction of the project. In 1988 he acquired the Plaza Hotel for $407 million and spent $50 million renovating it under his wife Ivana's direction.

Declining wealth

It was in 1990, however, that the real estate market declined, reducing the value of and income from Trump's empire; his own net worth plummeted from an estimated $1.7 billion to $500 million. The Trump Organization required massive loans to keep it from collapsing, a situation that raised questions as to whether the corporation could survive bankruptcy. Some observers saw Trump's decline as symbolic of many of the business, economic, and social excesses from the 1980s.

Yet Trump climbed back and was reported to be worth close to $2 billion in 1997. Donald Trump's image was tarnished by the publicity surrounding his controversial separation and the later divorce from his wife, Ivana. But Trump married again, this time to Marla Maples, a fledgling actress. The couple had a daughter two months before their marriage in 1993. He filed for a highly publicized divorce from Maples in 1997, which became final in June 1999.

On October 7, 1999, Trump announced the formation of an exploratory committee to inform his decision of whether or not he should seek the Reform Party's nomination for the presidential race of 2000, but backed out because of problems within the party.

A state appeals court ruled on August 3, 2000, that Trump had the right to finish an 856-foot-tall condominium on New York City's east side. The Coalition for Responsible Development had sued the city, charging it with violation of zoning laws by letting the building reach heights that towered over everything in the neighborhood. The city has since moved to revise its rules to prevent more of such projects. The failure of Trump's opponents to obtain an injunction (a court order to stop) allowed him to continue construction.

For More Information

Blair, Gwenda. The Trumps: Three Generations That Built an Empire. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000.

Hurt, Harry, III. The Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump. New York : W. W. Norton, 1993.

O'Donnell, John R., with James Rutherford. Trumped!: The Inside Story of the Real Donald Trump. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991.

Tucille, Jerome. Trump: The Saga of America's Master Builder. New York: D. I. Fine, 1985.



User Contributions:

1
randy
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Dec 26, 2009 @ 4:16 pm
good article, very good article, very very good article
2
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Apr 28, 2011 @ 10:22 pm
Wow - this country is going down the tubes. Anyone who can seriously consider voting for Trump must get of their perspective on life from watching reality TV, infomercials and the Home Shopping Network all day.
3
McSandy
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Aug 22, 2015 @ 10:10 am
Sure would be nice if folks would listen and not filter through their prejudices. It would be nice to have an "American" who is not beholden to anyone when they come into office and will just 'hire' people who are actually qualified for their positions. Trump has a history of doing exactly that. We need this country cleaned up before we can help others. Too much dishonesty in government is killing us. We are not respected. If we want other countries to 'love' us again, they need to respect us first and fear us.
4
Lina Tejeda
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Aug 23, 2015 @ 8:08 am
Where are all the real people that supposedly had had to reside in this country? I mean the indians. Well everybody else is an emmigrant. After the Europeans came killed, and forced the indians to live in reservation. Who were the criminals. Who were the immigrants. Then, everyone has to go back to their countries. Is not what Donald Trump wants to do? Let us move on and forget the USA. WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO THE USA? WELL, ASK MR TRUMP. HE MAY HAS THE ANSWER. That is exactly what happened in the American Continent. Dead, killing, deportations, stealing. Wao for the Europeans people.
5
SAPORITO
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Aug 23, 2015 @ 4:16 pm
tRUMP IS A STRAIGHT FORWARD WINNER! HE IS AWKWARD BECAUSE HE IS NOT GROOMED FOR POLITICS, BUT HE KNOWS HOW TO GET THINGS DONE AND HAS AMERICA AT HEART.AMERICA NEEDS A FEARLESS FRONT RUNNER WITH THE DRIVE OF A WINNER - AND HE IS AND HAS THAT. HE HAS TRUE CONCERNS FOR A NEAR FAILING AMERICA AND HE'S THE GUY THAT NO DOUBT CAN FIX IT EVEN IF HE WERE TO BECOME A ONE TERM PRESIDENT. I'D PERSONALLY GIVE HIME 6 YEARS IN THE HOT SEAT RIGHT NOW. IMAGINE THE UNDOINGS THAT THE NEXT PRESIDENT MUST UNDERTAKE WHILE HE/SHE IS JUST GETTING STARTED. THIS FELLOW IS WHAT AMERICA DESPERATELY NEEDS AND HE CAN GET AMERICA BACK ON TRACK. WITH A STRONG STAFF TO THROTTLE HIME BACK SOMEWHAT HE WOULD BE A SPLENDID LEADER. WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD WANT ANOTHER TENURE OF THE SAME REGIME? TRUMP CAN FIX AMERICA!
6
grace
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Aug 24, 2015 @ 8:20 pm
it is,to my opinion,DONALD TRUMP would represent big business over the mass populace,a problem that led up to the present economy.Major,undertaxed cooperations fluorish at our expense.D.T.fits right in with that.
7
grace
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Aug 24, 2015 @ 8:20 pm
it is,to my opinion,DONALD TRUMP would represent big business over the mass populace,a problem that led up to the present economy.Major,undertaxed cooperations fluorish at our expense.D.T.fits right in with that.
8
grace
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Aug 24, 2015 @ 8:20 pm
it is,to my opinion,DONALD TRUMP would represent big business over the mass populace,a problem that led up to the present economy.Major,undertaxed cooperations fluorish at our expense.D.T.fits right in with that.
9
grace
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Aug 24, 2015 @ 8:20 pm
haven't we seen enough publicity on how quick Trump is to belittle those he deems beneath him with childish insults?Is this a man that should be involved in foreign affairs?per example,calling a female lawyer rquesting a break to breast pump milk for her baby 'disgusting'
that,in my view,sums 'TRUMP' up . how would this man deal with world leaders?
10
MARTA
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Aug 26, 2015 @ 12:00 am
HI FIVE FOR YOU DONALD YOU ARE THE LIEDER, THAT IS WHAT ALL THE BIROCRATS IN WHITE HOUSE NEED IF I COULD I WOULD VOTE FOR YOU,BUT I AM CANADIAN LOVE YOU ANYWAY
11
Steve
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Aug 26, 2015 @ 3:15 pm
I WOULD LIKE TO FIND OUT HOW DID MR. TRUMP AVOIDED THE DRAFT. BECAUSE HE DID NOT GO TO VIETNAM. WAS HE A DRAFT DODGER?
COULD SOMEONE SHED ME SOME LIGHT ON THAT.
12
Mike
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Aug 26, 2015 @ 8:20 pm
Trump is full of shit. He says that he is going to built a wall, because he claims that he can built high buildings. He can not built anything, he came from a wealthy family with money, connections and credit. Anyone can do the same thing he has done with all the backing. How are you going to pay for that wall (that will not be a building you can profit on). I am sure our government will not pay for it. And I do not think Mexico will
pay for it. All tv stations should not cover his campaign, that 22% in the polls (what people are you polling). That is about all he will have voting for him. He is wasting everybody's time.
13
Areea
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Aug 27, 2015 @ 3:03 am
Mr. Tramp is trying to win votes creating hatred in US. We feel sorry for the people who support this guy who could not even get along with his women.
14
Rina
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Aug 27, 2015 @ 7:07 am
All he's gonna do is start a war. He is wrong for all he's doing.
15
Chris
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Aug 27, 2015 @ 11:11 am
Doesn't anybody speaks the good English? Hmm. That tells us something.
16
Damaris
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Aug 28, 2015 @ 1:01 am
TRUMP IS GERMAN AND SCOTTISH. HE WANTS LATINOS TO GO,HE HAS TO GO. HE IS A IMMAGRANT HIM SELF.

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