In January 2017, photographs began to show up on social media along with the claim that they were images of Melania Trump’s grandmother, purportedly a Soviet soldier named Olga Orlif:
The earliest versions of this rumor that we could uncover were accompanied by Russian text, which we have translated below:
Старший лейтенант Советской Армии Ольга Орлиф – бабушка югославки Мелании Трамп :-)?
Senior Lieutenant of the Soviet Army Olga Orlif – grandma of Melania Trump
This photograph actually shows actress Janet Leigh as Lt. Anna Marladovna (later Lt. Anna Shannon) in the 1957 movie “Jet Pilot,” a film about a Russian pilot who may or may not be a spy. (It remains unclear whether this particular image is a still from the film, or if it was an official promotional photograph.)
The web site TheRedList.com featured another image of Leigh in her Soviet Army costume:
Information about the real grandparents of Melania Trump (previously Melania Knauss) remains scarce online. The only tidbit we were able uncover was that her grandparents lived in Sevnica, a town in Slovenia, and that her grandfather developed a red onion variety called the Raka — but even that tidbit is anecdotal.
While we don’t know much about the First Lady’s grandmother, a photograph of a Soviet soldier who looks a lot like Janet Leigh along with the claim that it shows Melania Trump’s grandmother is actually Janet Leigh dressed as a Soviet soldier for a 1957 movie role.
Smith, Alex. “Melania who? Trump’s wife a forgotten memory in Slovenian home town.”
The Guardian. 5 September 2016.
Collins, Lauren. “The Model American.”
The New Yorker. 9 May 2016.