Alaskans line up for a whiff of Ivana

Editor's note:This story was originally published April 3, 1996

Sarah Palin, a commercial fisherman from Wasilla, told her husband on Tuesday she was driving to Anchorage to shop at Costco. Instead, she headed straight for Ivana.

And there, at J.C. Penney's cosmetic department, was Ivana, the former Mrs. Donald Trump, sitting at a table next to a photograph of herself. She wore a light-colored pantsuit and pink fingernail polish. Her blonde hair was coiffed in a bouffant French twist.

''We want to see Ivana,'' said Palin, who admittedly smells like salmon for a large part of the summer, ''because we are so desperate in Alaska for any semblance of glamour and culture.''

Ivana Trump, the former Czechoslovakian Olympic skier who found fame and wealth as the wife of the New York tycoon, came to Anchorage Tuesday to push her line of perfume.

More than 500 people waited as long as half an hour in J.C. Penney to chat with her and receive an autographed photo.

Ivana's fans, mostly middle-aged women, see the 46-year-old jet-setter as a sort of feminist hero -- a woman who got dumped by a man but then found the gumption to succeed in businesses on her own.


''She didn't lay down and cry,'' said Ada Esmailka.

''She got the best revenge,'' said Elaine Bales, ''by getting on with her life and being a success.''

Any woman who can ''market beauty and sell it is powerful,'' said Tootie Keeney, a state Department of Fish and Game employee who often handles moose complaints.

Others said they were drawn to Ivana by her beauty.

''Since beauty is skin deep, she probably has pretty deep skin,'' observed Candido Robert Allison, who presented himself to Ivana while dressed in camouflage pants and black paratrooper boots.

''She's so beautiful,'' said Denise Sheffield, 36. ''We can't figure out why Donald dumped her.''

Some of Ivana's fans wondered why a New Yorker as glamorous as Ivana would bother coming to Anchorage. This town may be a good place to launch a new line of fishing lures, a new color of Carhartts, a tougher kind of duct tape. But bath oil and a pink jar of body cream?

''She's so well-groomed, and Alaskans are not,'' said Susan Rose, 47, who was so excited about meeting Ivana she worried she might faint.

Helen Stoveall, 49, of Eagle River, disagreed. ''Alaska women are just as glamorous as women anywhere else,'' she insisted.

Bobbie Whitaker, owner of Me and Ms. Bobbie's Janitorial Service, said any woman could be beautiful if she had enough money.

''I could be just as beautiful as Ivana,'' she said. ''I would get a liposuction, get my breasts built up, take out some of my hips.''

Then she nodded toward Ivana. ''Look at that hair and makeup. That's money.''

With her new husband, Italian businessman Riccardo Mazzucchelli, standing a few feet away, Ivana gracefully signed autographs, pitched her perfume and never stopped smiling.

The couple has already visited 40 J.C. Penney stores to promote the perfume line and plans to visit 20 more. Their company, House of Ivana Inc., has produced a line of Ivana clothes, Ivana jewelry and three Ivana books.

Ivana, who got her first millions the old-fashioned way, by marrying a rich man, seemed perplexed by her new role as feminist heroine.

''I don't know what I am,'' she said at the end of the two-hour appearance. ''What I know is that my upbringing was always the man was the head of the family. But this is old times. Now what I believe is that I'm definitely equal.''

Then she and her husband rushed out of the department store and headed to the airport, where a helicopter was waiting to take them on a sightseeing flight to Mount McKinley.


Before they left, a reporter asked Ivana if she took her new husband's name.

''No,'' Mazzucchelli said. ''She doesn't have a last name. It's Ivana. Just Ivana.''

Tom Bell

Tom Bell is a former reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. He was later a reporter for the Portland Press Herald in Maine.