Revisiting Marla Maples: “The Christmas List”

One of the downsides in writing for print media is that my newspaper column sometimes isn’t as timely as I’d like. When terrorists attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, I’d already hand delivered my column (yep, that’s how we did it back then) to Herald-Citizen editor Charles Denning. The subject? A surreptitious hike with a couple of friends at Burgess Falls State Park, which was closed and locked due to budgetary shortfalls.

It is with disappointment that I write this week about something other than the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, which I hope and pray will be peaceful. My deadline is Wednesday morning. The inauguration is at noon.

I’ve chosen, instead, to bid adios to the 45th President of the United States in a way I hope will be different from other columnists and commentators. I want to focus on one of my favorite Christmas movies, the cast of which includes someone who was once, apparently, very near and dear to Donald Trump’s heart: Marla Maples.

Remember her? Actress, model and television personality, Maples is perhaps best known as Donald Trump’s second wife and the mother of his younger daughter Tiffany. Trump’s relationship with Maples began in 1989 while he was still married to first wife Ivana. They divorced in 1991. Trump married Marla Maples in a lavish wedding at New York City’s Plaza Hotel in December 1993, two months after Tiffany was born. That marriage ended in divorce in 1999.

Beginning in the early 1990s, Maples appeared in numerous movies and TV shows, none as memorable, in my opinion, as the 1997 made-for-TV movie “The Christmas List.” It will forever remain one of my holiday favorites.

The movie’s lovely and wholesome protagonist Melody, portrayed by Mimi Rogers, works at the perfume counter of a big department store in Seattle. Her mother, who lives in an apartment just down the hall, is eager for Melody to get married and start a family. But Melody is dragging her feet, primarily because her boyfriend, George, is a real jerk.

Melody has “the nose.” She can identify perfume scents blindfolded. She’s also extraordinarily gifted at matching women with just the right perfume for their personality. A young teenager named Danny shows up at her sales counter one day, seeking to buy a bottle of the same perfume his late mother wore in hopes that its scent can bring him comfort. Melody finds the perfume, Champs Elysees, and even lends Danny some money to buy it because he’s short on cash. A whole lot of other stuff happens, but the most important is that Melody falls for Danny’s dad, Dr. David Skylar. He takes a liking to her, too.

But wait. There’s a problem. David already has a girlfriend named Faith, played by Marla Maples. She gorgeous. She’s glamourous. She’s also shallow and superficial. And she’s determined to keep Melody from getting her claws in David. So Faith goes to the store where Melody works, buys a ring that’s set with a gigantic fake diamond and then heads to the perfume department, where she has the NERVE to tell Melody that she’s David’s fiancée and to buy a bottle of Champs Elysees for herself!!!

Lest I ruin the story, I’ll stop here except to say that the only way to watch “The Christmas List” these days is to buy a used copy of the DVD. Or you can settle for a low-quality streaming version on YouTube, which is what I did before I sat down to write this column. I enjoyed every minute of it, but especially the scenes with Marla Maples.

Somehow, they made the anticipation of Donald Trump’s departure from the White House all the more pleasurable.

(January 23, 2021)