Who is E Jean Carroll? The writer and TV host who took on Donald Trump

E Jean Carroll has been a trailblazing figure in New York’s journalism, entertainment and literary scenes for decades.

Born in Detroit and raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the one-time Miss Indiana University beauty queen began pitching her ideas to magazines at the age of 12.

After graduating from college, she got her breakthrough by landing her first published article in Esquire, a “witty literary quiz she concocted” about Ernest Hemingway and F Scott Fitzgerald.

From there, writing assignments at Rolling Stone and Playboy began to “trickle in”, she told Indianapolis Monthly in 1996.

While living in Montana with her first husband Steve Byers and their dog, she came to New York City in 1983 to interview Fran Leibowitz for a cover article in Outside magazine.

Entranced by the bright lights of Manhattan, Ms Carroll decided to leave her husband and move there on the spot.

“Of course, I went back for my dog,” she told Indianapolis Monthly.

Ms Carroll quickly established herself as one of the city’s top magazine journalists, writing “Gonzo-style” first-person articles for Playboy and New York.

The New York Times called her “feminism’s answer to Hunter S Thompson”.

She was hired as a writer for Saturday Night Live, earning an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program in 1987.

In the 1990s, she went on to host her own cable television talk show called Ask E. Jean. While her career was taking off, Ms Carroll became a fixture in the glitzy New York social scene. She was a regular at Elaine’s, a legendary Upper East Side restaurant frequented by a who’s who of celebrities.

Ms Carroll mingled with literary heavyweights Norman Mailer and Gay Talese, according to a profile in USA Today. Jackie Kennedy, by then a book editor at Viking Press, would stop by.

She married former TV anchorman John Johnson, before divorcing in 1990.

At Ms Carroll’s first civil trial against Donald Trump in May 2023, a jury found him liable for sexual abuse and defamation and awarded the writer a total of $5m in damages.

On 26 January, a jury in a second trial awarded her $83m for punitive and compensatory damages.

E. Jean Carroll in New York in June 2019.

Ms Carroll is probably best known for her advice column Ask E Jean, which ran in Elle from 1993 to 2019.

Over hundreds of columns, Ms Carroll helped women navigate the “choppy waters” of their work, social and sex lives. A consistent theme was that women should “never” structure their lives around men.

In 2019, Ms Carroll released her memoir What Do We Need Men For? which drew on work that had endeared her to Elle readers for nearly 30 years.

The book contained a list of the “hideous men” she had encountered, and a bombshell allegation: that she had been raped by the then-president of the United States almost three decades earlier.

Ivana and Donald Trump, pictured in 1989, were married from 1977 to 1990.

Former advice columnist E. Jean Carroll walks into Manhattan federal court on Tuesday, April 25, 2023, in New York

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