Maples was born in Cohutta, Georgia, the daughter of Lura Ann Locklear (1940-2014), a homemaker and model, and Stanley Edward Maples, a real estate developer. Maples attended Northwest Whitfield High School in Tunnel Hill, Georgia, where she was crowned Homecoming Queen.
She met Donald Trump in 1989 and had a 4-year highly publicized relationship that produced one child, Tiffany Ariana Trump, born October 13, 1993. The couple were married in December 1993, at New York City's Plaza Hotel in a ceremony attended by 1,000 guests including Rosie O'Donnell and O.J. Simpson. They separated in May 1997 and divorced in 1999.
Maples appeared in Maximum Overdrive and Executive Decision. She followed these films with roles in the Todd Solondz movie Happiness, and was in the movie Black and White. Other films include A Christmas Too Many, Loving Annabelle, Two of Hearts, Richie Rich's A Christmas Wish, For Richer or Poorer, A Sight for Sore Eyes, and Something Wilder. Since then, she has had a part as an actress in Switching Lanes, directed by Thomas Mikal Ford, which won the Feature Film Silver Award in October 2015 at the Kingdomwood Christian Film Festival.
In 1991, Maples appeared as a celebrity guest at WWFWrestleMania VII, serving as special guest timekeeper in the main event match between Hulk Hogan and defending WWF Champion Sgt. Slaughter. In that year, Maples also made a special appearance in hit television series Designing Women as herself. Maples co-hosted the 1996 and 1997 Miss Universe Pageant, and the 1997 Miss USA Pageant. She guest-starred in Spin City in 1997 and on The Nanny in May 1998. In 2013, Maples was featured on Oprah: Where Are They Now?
On March 8, 2016, Maples was announced as one of the celebrities who will compete on season 22 of Dancing with the Stars alongside her Switching Lanes co-star, Kim Fields. She was partnered with professional dancer Tony Dovolani. Maples and Dovolani were eliminated on Week 4 of competition and finished in 10th place.
Maples also joined the women of ABC's morning talk show, The View, as a guest co-host on March 11, 2016.
In August 1992, Maples starred as "Ziegfeld's favorite" in the Tony Award winning production, The Will Rogers Follies on Broadway. She returned to New York in 2011 for Love, Loss and What I Wore, an off-Broadway production.
Maples is committed to supporting charities and non-profit organizations, and is a long time and vocal advocate of Kids Creating Peace, an organization uniting Israeli and Palestinian children. She has shared proceeds of sales with those in need; she shared sales proceeds of her One World of Love album with Success for Kids, and proceeds from her auction with Linda's Stuff went to Spirituality for Kids.
Radio and music
Maples hosted her own talk radio show, Awakening with Marla, on Contact Talk Radio; her guests included naturopathic doctors, authors, and astrologers.
Maples' album The Endless, released in August 2013, is a musical journey of spiritual awakening and transformational energy, featuring thought leaders such as the Dalai Lama, Michael Beckwith, and Deepak Chopra. Each track seeks to evoke a different level of consciousness and connection, designed for deep meditation, prayer circles, or yoga sessions. In December 2014, Maples won a "Hollywood Music in Media Award" for best New Age/Ambient song, for "House of Love", from that album. Her song "Open Your Eyes" with Michael Berg from the same album "The Endless" is also featured on Armada Music's 'Planet Chill 2014-01' compilation album.
Health and wellness
Maples is an advocate of health and wellness, with daughter Tiffany Trump confessing she used to make healthy homemade chocolate in Trump Tower; meanwhile her father would sneak her downstairs to the candy store to buy her Almond Joys. Marla is a self-proclaimed 'mostly-vegan' who avoids dairy, eats organic, and chooses to be gluten free. She told People Magazine that her top three tips for healthy eating are to (a) listen to your body, (b) eat organic, (c) be joyful in all you do/eat.
In 1990, Maples starred in an advertising campaign for No Excuses jeans. In 1993, she designed a line of maternity clothes, sold in several major department stores.
In January 2000, a memoir by Maples, All That Glitters Is Not Gold, was announced by the ReganBooks division of HarperCollins Publishers. In February 2002, a spokeswoman for the publishing company said that ''The author and publisher by mutual consent have agreed not to publish the book.''