Famous People

Melania Trump Childhood Biography, Family, History & Facts

Melania Trump

Melania Trump

OCCUPATION : Model, U.S. First Lady
BIRTH DATE : April 26, 1970 (age 48)
PLACE OF BIRTH : Novo Mesto, Slovenia

Who Is Melania Trump?

First Lady Melania Trump is the wife of Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States.

Born on April 26, 1970, First Lady Melania Trump is a former model and the third wife of U.S. President, real estate billionaire and former reality TV star Donald Trump.

Early Life

Melania Trump (born Melanija Knavs, Germanized to Melania Knauss) was born on April 26, 1970, in Novo Mesto, Slovenia (then part of communist Yugoslavia). Her father was a car dealer and her mother was a designer for children’s clothing. She grew up in a modest home with her younger sister and later discovered she had an older half brother, whom her father had from a previous relationship.

Modeling Career

Trump began modeling at age 16, and two years later she signed on with an agency in Milan. She enrolled at the University of Ljubljana, but dropped out after one year to pursue her modeling career.

In her early days of modeling, Trump worked in Milan and Paris, before moving to New York in 1996. There she gained steady work, working with well-known photographers like Patrick Demarchelier and Helmut Newton, and landing covers on magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar (Bulgaria), Vanity Fair (Italy), GQ (for which she posed nude in January 2000) and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

In March 2001, she was granted a green card for permanent residency in the U.S. through the EB-1 program. Her acceptance later came under scrutiny, as the so-called “Einstein visa” is often allocated to top academics, business leaders, Oscar-winning actors and others who demonstrate “extraordinary ability,” though others suggested she easily qualified for EB-1 approval.

Melanie Trump Childhood and Facts

The First Lady grew up in a pretty blue-collar environment, in a tiny Slovenian town. Her parents were known to be ambitious and encouraged her to take advantage of modeling opportunities.

The Donald apparently reminded her of her Communist dad, which made her like him all the more. Melania Trump is an enigma and people can’t seem to find out if she really likes her life with The Donald. After all, there are a ton of sad Melania Trump photographs that make her look like a captive. So, who was Melania Trump before Trump? Find out by reading strange stories about her youth below!

She Grew Up Working-Class In S... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Melania Trump's Childhood Was Just About As Weird As You'd Expect
She Grew Up Working-Class In Slovenia


Melania Trump wasn’t always the fashionable wife of a billionaire she is today.

In fact, she grew up with humble roots in Sevnica, Slovenia, where she was known as “Melanija Knavs” and lived in Communist-style apartment housing that overlooked a river and smoking factory chimneys, the Associated Press reports.

“I think I can say Sevnica was too small for her,” Mirjana Jelancic, a childhood friend of Trump’s, told the AP. “Even as a child, she dreamed of moving.”

Jelancic said Trump, now 45, was a hardworking, well-behaved student with plans of pursuing an international fashion career.

“We would never hear her swear of say anything bad to anyone,” Jelancic said of her friend, adding that she was “an excellent student, very organized, disciplined, with very decent manners.”

Melania Trump, second from right

Melania Trump, second from right

Melania Trump, third from right

Melania Trump, third from right

After moving to Ljubljana, the country’s capital, for high school, Trump was spotted by a photographer on the street. She began modeling at the age of 16, traveling all around Europe and learning a variety of languages along the way, including English, German, French and Italian.

“I still remember how tall she was and how beautiful her figure and hair were,” Stane Jerko, the photographer who discovered Trump, told the AP. “There was no smile on her face because she was shy and scared, but I encouraged her to come to the studio.”

Trump soon changed her name to Melania Knauss and moved to New York City in 1996. She began dating her future husband Donald a few years later, after he asked for her number at a party in Manhattan. The pair were married in January 2005 and Trump gave birth to their son Barron in 2006.

Jelancic told the AP that she was surprised at first at the news that her childhood friend had married Donald, who is 24 years her senior. She eventually realized, however, a resemblance between Donald and Melania’s father.

“They are both hardworking men,” Jelancic said. “There must have been some kind of chemistry.”


Donald Reminded Her Of Her Dad

Donald Reminded Her Of Her Dad is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Melania Trump's Childhood Was Just About As Weird As You'd Expect
Photo: Sgt. Gabriela Garcia/Wikimedia Commons

Apparently, Melania fell for Donald because he reminded her of her father, who is just five years older than her husband. In fact, their physical resemblance is quite uncanny. Melania told GQ:

“They’re both hardworking. They’re both very smart and very capable. They grew up in totally different environments, but they have the same values, they have the same tradition. I myself am similar to my husband. Do you understand what I mean? So is my dad; he is a family man, he has tradition, he was hardworking. So is my husband.”


Melania's Mom Harvested Re... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Melania Trump's Childhood Was Just About As Weird As You'd Expect
Melania’s Mom Harvested Red Onions

Melania’s mom started as a country girl who became a working-class woman. In fact, the New York Times reported that Amalija Knauss started her career by picking red onions on her family farm, then moved to town and got a factory job. She also sewed her daughters clothes after work so they could dress to impress. Amalija Knavs seems to be quite close to her daughter, and she and her hubby, Viktor, frequently visit Melania and their grandson in America.

Melania Has Been Modeling Since Age Five

Melania Has Been Modeling Sinc... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Melania Trump's Childhood Was Just About As Weird As You'd Expect
Photo:  dzonikg/YouTube

Melania officially started modeling at the tender age of five. She told the website Parenting, “My mom was in the fashion business. I was five years old when I did my first catwalk and did commercials at 16.” Eventually, she signed with a modeling agency in her late teens and started traveling the world, going from Paris to Milan on business.

Never before-seen images of Melania Trump


Never before-seen images of Melania Trump

Melania Trump at 17 years old

Marriage to Donald Trump

Melania met her future husband Donald Trump at a New York fashion party in 1998. Although she first refused to date him, the couple eventually began establishing a relationship and were engaged in 2004. The following year they married in a lavish Palm Beach, Florida, ceremony, with celebrity attendees including Shaquille O’Neal, Barbara Walters, Kelly Ripa, Matt Lauer, Katie Couric, former President Bill Clinton and then New York Senator Hillary Clinton.

In 2006, Trump gave birth to Barron William Trump. Their son is husband Donald’s fifth child. That same year she also became a U.S. citizen.

Melania and Donald Trumps Million Dollar Wedding

Presidential Campaign Trail

When Donald Trump announced his intentions to make a 2016 presidential bid for the White House, the normally private Melania was pushed into the national spotlight along with her past modeling work, some of which was considered racy. One of the first controversial images that began circulating online was her 2000 British GQ spread that had her lying naked on a fur blanket.

The controversy didn’t stop there: In July 2016, Melania Trump gave a speech at the Republican National Convention, from which some passages were found to be identical to Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic National Convention speech. Initially claiming she wrote the speech, Trump was lambasted by the media and the public for plagiarism.

Shortly thereafter, Trump staff writer Meredith McIver took responsibility for the gaffe, claiming she accidentally included part of Obama’s speech in Trump’s talking points. McIver issued the following statement explaining what transpired:

“In working with Melania on her recent first lady speech, we discussed many people who inspired her and messages she wanted to share with the American people. A person she has always liked is Michelle Obama. Over the phone, she read me some passages from Mrs. Obama’s speech as examples. I wrote them down and later included some of the phrasing in the draft that ultimately became the final speech.”

Melania Trump has picked up a lot of habits from her husband.
                                                       Melania Trump has picked up a lot of habits from her husband

Not long after, more controversy followed. On July 30, 2016, the New York Post published nude photos of a then 25-year-old Melania Trump, including one in which she lay in bed with another woman. Many of the photos were published for a men’s French magazine that is no longer in circulation.

Discussing the nude photos, Donald told The Post: “Melania was one of the most successful models and she did many photo shoots, including for covers and major magazines. This was a picture taken for a European magazine prior to my knowing Melania. In Europe, pictures like this are very fashionable and common.”

In November, Melania Trump delivered a rare speech on the campaign trail outlining how fighting cyberbullying would be a priority for her if she were to become first lady. “We need to teach our youth American values: Kindness, honesty, respect, compassion, charity, understanding, cooperation,” said Trump. News outlets were quick to point out the irony that her husband was known for his use of the social media platform Twitter to insult opponents.

First Lady

On November 8, 2016, Donald Trump won the majority of electoral college votes and was elected the 45th president of the United States in a stunning defeat of Hillary Clinton. With her husband’s victory, Melania Trump became the first foreign-born U.S. first lady since Louisa Adams, John Quincy Adams’s wife, who was born in London.

As Donald Trump prepared for his transition to power, he told reporters that Melania and their son Barron would stay in New York City while he moved into the White House, allowing Barron to finish the year at his private school on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. In June 2017, Melania and Barron finally joined the President in the White House.

Melania Trump as first lady


An early attempt to use the first lady platform for public good generated attention for the wrong reasons: In September, Melania sent a package of Dr. Seuss books to one deserving school in each state as part of National Read-a-Book Day. However, the gift was spurned by a Massachusetts elementary school librarian, who decried both the selection of her school and the choice of Dr. Seuss as a “tired and worn ambassador for children’s literature.”

The first lady hoped to achieve better results through her passion for combating bullying. In October, she made a surprise visit with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to Orchard Lake Middle School in Michigan, as part of the #NoOneEatsAlone initiative. “I always believe that you need to treat each other with respect, and kindness and compassion,” she told the students.

The following month, the secretive first lady was profiled in Vanity Fair. According to the article, it was Melania who pushed a waffling Trump into announcing his candidacy for president, knowing that he would regret the missed opportunity if he didn’t. On the flip side, she supposedly never expected to find herself in the White House. “This isn’t something she wanted and it isn’t something he ever thought he’d win,” said one longtime friend of the couple. “She didn’t want this come hell or high water. I don’t think she thought it was going to happen.”

Melania Trump and son barron

Melania Trump and son barron

Whether or not she ever intended to live in the White House, the first lady went all-out for her first holiday season as a resident there. She publicly revealed her Christmas decorations on November 27, 2017, showcasing her Balsam fir trees draped with “icicles” and trimmed with glass ornaments emblazoned with the seal of each state and territory. The display reportedly came together with the assistance of 150 volunteers from 29 states.

“The President, Barron, and I are very excited for our first Christmas in the White House,” Melania said in a statement. “As with many families across the country, holiday traditions are very important to us. I hope when visiting the People’s House this year, visitors will get a sense of being home for the holidays.”

Policy Focus and Controversies

In January 2018, Melania Trump hired 27-year-old Reagan Thompson, previously an executive assistant on the National Security Council and adviser to Congressman turned CIA Director Mike Pompeo, to serve as her policy director. A spokesperson said the new hire would help prepare and roll out the first lady’s official platform in the coming months.

The move came shortly after the publication of the explosive book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, which described Melania as an unwilling participant in her husband’s campaign who broke down in tears the night he was elected. The first lady was reportedly angered by that account and instructed her staff to push back against the book’s claims.

More controversy soon surfaced with a report that Donald Trump had been involved with an adult film star a decade earlier, with the starlet allegedly paid to keep quiet just before the 2016 election. The first lady subsequently canceled a trip to attend the World Economic Forum in Switzerland with her husband and kept a low profile for several days, prompting speculation of a rift between the two. Her spokesperson eventually broke the ice by slamming the “salacious & flat-out false reporting” on Twitter, and Melania followed by confirming that she would attend the president’s State of the Union address on January 30.

‘Be Best’ and Border Enforcement

On May 7, 2018, Trump unveiled her platform, “Be Best.” The program will focus on three key objectives: well-being, fighting opioid abuse and positivity on social media. “As a mother and as first lady, it concerns me that in today’s fast-paced and ever-connected world, children can be less prepared to express or manage their emotions and oftentimes turn to forms of destructive or addictive behavior such as bullying, drug addiction or even suicide,” she said. “I feel strongly that as adults we can and should be best at educating our children about the importance of a healthy and balanced life.”


Image result for Melania Trump

US first lady Melania Trump walks from her to her motorcade wearing a Zara design jacket

The following month, the first lady weighed in on the controversial issue of children being separated from their parents after illegally crossing the Mexican border. Although her husband had blamed Democrats for a law that supposedly mandated such actions, it was part of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s zero-tolerance policy toward preventing illegal entry into the country.

“Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform,” she said in a statement through her spokesperson, Stephanie Grisham. “She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart.”

A few days later, Trump made an unannounced visit to Upbring New Hope Children’s Shelter in McAllen, Texas, to tour the facility and meet with children and staff. However, the visit itself was eclipsed by her decision to wear a jacket emblazoned with the message “I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” before leaving and again after returning to Andrews Air Force Base.

Her spokesperson downplayed the significance of the jacket, insisting there was no hidden message, but the president said it was directed at the “fake news media,” tweeting, “Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!”


Melania’s Childhood Reveals & Facts

You know her as the fashionable first lady who’s often overshadowed by her boisterous husband. And many eagle-eyed photographers have captured Melania Trump looking quite detached from Donald Trump when it comes to his presidency. While many have speculated about whether their marriage is on the rocks, especially following the Stormy Daniels allegations, we know there’s another side to Melania that has yet to be uncovered.She grew up in a foreign country and had model aspirations. But what was the first lady’s childhood really like? Here are the details and what they can tell us about her marriage.

1. Melania grew up in a Communist-style apartment and always dreamed of moving away

Melanie home townDespite the charming town square of Sevnica, Slovenia, Melania Trump dreamed of moving away.


A life of luxury certainly wasn’t something Melania was used to until she met Donald. Daily Mail explains the first lady grew up in the small country of Slovenia, which was then part of Communist-run Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia was relatively open with the West, with its citizens able to freely travel. But living in a dictatorship still had its challenges.

As for Melania’s family, she, her sister, and her parents all lived in Communist-style apartment housing that overlooked industrial landscapes of smokestacks and factories. As Melania’s friend Mirjana Jelancic recalls, “Even as a child, she dreamed of moving.”


2. Her father was active in the Communist Party, which helped him get a good job

Melania Trump Mother and father

                                                                                           Melania Trump Mother and father


Her father was a member of the League of Communists when Melania Trump was young.

While many of Slovenia’s residents weren’t well off when Melania was young, her father’s association with the Communist Party helped their family immensely. According to Town & Country, Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks says Viktor Knavs, Melania’s father, had never been an active member. But Daily Mail says documents show Viktor was indeed a listed member of the League of Communists at the time.

Viktor and Amalija Knavs, the parents of US First Lady Melania Trump

Viktor didn’t advertise his political standing, but it became obvious to neighbors and friends. He and Melania’s mother were both holding down some of the best jobs in town because of it, which kept their heads above water.


3. And her mother worked as a pattern maker in a factory

Melania’s mother, Amalija, is certainly living a different life now than she was back when her daughters were young. Heavy reports she worked in a Slovenian textile factory, where her income wasn’t as low as some other jobs. Daily Mail even notes the state-owned children’s clothing manufacturer where she worked had 1,200 workers total and was their small town’s best employer.

Before the factory, Amalija reportedly harvested red onions for work, which certainly yielded less income. And she hand-sewed her daughter’s clothes, so they always looked presentable in town.


4. Melania ‘loved the attention’ modeling gave her, says her best friend

Melanija Knavs stands front and center in 1977
                                                                       Melanija Knavs stands front and center in 1977

Her striking looks garnered attention even when she was as young as 5, Daily Mail says. She and her older sister, Ines, both participated in the state-owned company fashion show — a huge deal for a town with few opportunities. And Melania’s best childhood friend, Nena, was also one of the few chosen children to take part in the event.

Nena, Melania, and Ines were selected twice to model, and the kids were taken by train to Belgrade to strut down the catwalk alongside more experienced adult models. As Nena recalls, “We loved the attention obviously — and being on stage in front of the audience.”

5. Even with her strong work ethic, modeling was tough for Melania

Donald Trump and then-girlfriend Melania Knauss, 2002.
                                                          Donald Trump and then-girlfriend Melania Knauss, 2002.

                             Dating Donald Trump (pictured in 2002) gave Melania a higher profile.


Melania’s childhood friend Mirjana Jelancic says the first lady was always kind, hard-working, and driven when it came to pursuing her passions, People reports. Her first real modeling gig was at age 16, which is when she began traveling around Europe and learning additional languages, including English, French, German, and Italian.

By 1996, Melania was set to move to New York to pursue her dreams — though they didn’t come easy. When she met Donald, however, Vanity Fair notes their union gave her new modeling opportunities she certainly never had in her home country.


6. Donald and Melania’s father have plenty of similarities

Viktor doesn’t just look like Donald Trump — he also has the same demeanor, says Melania. Heavy reports that Melania thinks both her father and her husband are “very smart and very capable.” And even though Donald grew up rich while Viktor had to work for every penny he had, Melania says they have the same values and traditions.

More modeling opportunities aside, perhaps this is why she married someone like Donald.


7. Is Melania truly happy as Donald’s wife?

The Trumps generally don’t appear very happy

Here’s the million dollar question: Does Melania actually like being married to the president? We remember how long it took the first lady to actually move into the White House. She claims it was for Barron’s sake, of course. But many speculated that she wanted no part in any of her husband’s political affairs after all.

Newsweek mentions several occasions where Melania looks uneasy while with her husband. And many folks have shared photos of her looking less than enthused. She says she’s honored to be America’s first lady, but many believe she got more than she bargained for when marrying her husband.

Next: Here’s why friends say Donald and Melania are a perfect match.

8. Friends say they’re a perfect match

Donald Trump's face close up panning to Melania.

A match made in heaven? | Giphy

In addition to the father resembelance, Melania prefers not to be in the spotlight, instead allowing Donald to have the attention. This is why some of their friends say they’re perfect for each other. One of the couple’s friends, William Eubanks, is reported in Vanity Fair as saying Melania has no problem letting her husband take the lead. “She enjoys her role of stepping back and letting him take center stage,” said Eubanks.


9. Melania is less needy than his other wives

Melania applauds while sitting down.

She can hold her own. | Giphy

Seeing as this is Donald’s third marriage, he’s chosen someone who appears to be much different than Ivana and Marla. While his previous two wives seemed to be more high maintenance, The New Yorker reports Melania says she’s “not a nagging wife.” Donald has reportedly not taken much interest in her home country of Slovenia or her culture, but for Melania, that’s OK. “I’m not that kind of wife who would say, ‘Learn this’ or ‘Learn that’,” she says. As far as the publication could tell, she doesn’t even tease Donald, but rather obediently compliments him.


10. Donald loves when Melania praises him

Going along with Melania’s seemingly obedient attitude toward her husband, Michael D’Antonio, author of The Truth About Trump, says he noticed something troubling about their relationship, Vanity Fair reports. D’Antonio says when he met Donald and Melania, Donald said to his wife, “Tell him I’m a really good husband.” He repeated this to her twice before she finally told D’Antonio her husband was great, but it seemed to be dragged out of her.

The author also said Melania had another wifely duty — praising Donald’s fame by telling him he was more well known than other actors or rich folks.

11. The couple believes in classic gender roles in their household

As Melania puts it to Parenting, her first job is to be a full-time mom for Barron. She’s the primary caretaker for him as Donald goes about his business life — and even when she’s pursuing her own passions, she’s still the one Barron sees on a consistent basis.

And when Melania was asked if Donald helped with childcare duties, she responded with, “He didn’t change diapers and I am completely fine with that. … It’s very important to know the person you’re with. And we know our roles.” Even with her domestic duties, the first lady still maintains that she thrives on her do-it-yourself outlook on life.


12. Melania has adopted many of her husband’s habits

The New Yorker reported that Melania “appears to have internalized many aspects of Donald’s culture.” She reportedly refrains from drinking (as does Donald Trump). She also doesn’t break ranks with the Trump camp, even when asked about topics she could easily joke about, such as his unpopular hairstyle. Additionally, “she has taken on her husband’s signature pout,” according to The New Yorker. However, Melania made a point of telling CNN, “I don’t agree with everything that he says, but you know, that is normal. I’m my own person; I tell him what I think.”


13. White House insiders see Ivanka as Trump’s ‘real wife’

It’s very odd to call someone’s daughter their “real wife
                                                                                                  Trumps daughter “Ivanka ” The real wife.”

It’s no secret that Donald Trump favors his daughter, Ivanka Trump. He and the first daughter have a close relationship. Their relationship is so close, in fact, that members of the White House inner circle have referred to her as Trump’s “real wife,” according to Fire and Fury author, Michael Wolff.

In the book, Wolff claims Trump treats Hope Hicks, his communications director, like his daughter, and Ivanka as if she were his wife, reports GQ. “[Hope] Hicks was in fact thought of as Trump’s real daughter, while Ivanka was thought of as his real wife,” wrote Wolff.

Health Scare

On May 14, 2018, Trump underwent kidney surgery at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center near Washington, D.C. “Melania Trump underwent an embolization procedure to treat a benign kidney issue. She will likely remain there for the duration of the week,” her office said in a statement. “The first lady looks forward to a full recovery so she can continue her work on behalf of children everywhere.”

Although she was out of the hospital after five days, the first lady continued to lie low in the following weeks, sparking more concern about her well-being. In early June, her spokesperson said that Trump would not be joining her husband at the G7 summit in Quebec that week and there were “no plans” for her to travel to Singapore to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un later in the month.

Other Projects

In 2010, Melania Trump launched a jewelry line, as well as a skincare line. She has appeared in an Aflac commercial, co-hosted on The View, and appeared on her husband’s NBC reality show, Celebrity Apprentice.


Trump is said to be fluent in the Slovenian, English, French, Serbian and German  languages, with other outlets reporting that she speaks Italian, as well.

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