Maye Haldeman was born on April 19, 1948, in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, a twin and one of five children. Her family moved to Pretoria, South Africa, in 1950. Her parents, Winnifred Josephine “Wyn” (Fletcher) and Dr. Joshua Norman Haldeman, a former director of Technocracy Incorporated,
a former Regina chiropractor and
amateur archaeologist, were adventurous and flew the family around the world in a prop plane in 1952. For over ten years, the family spent time roaming the Kalahari desert in search of its fabled Lost City of the Kalahari. Their parents gave slide shows and talks about their journeys. “My parents were very famous,but they were never snobs,” she said.
As her parents were entrepreneurs, Musk started working at about 8 years of age, where she would “prepare her parents monthly bulletins and photocopy newsletters, and then put the stamps on the envelopes.” By the age of 12, before and then after school, Musk worked as a receptionist alongside her twin sister for their father.
As a young woman, Haldeman was a finalist in the 1969 Miss South Africa beauty competition. In 1970, she married Errol Musk, a South African engineer she met in high school. They had three children: Elon Musk, Kimbal Musk, and Tosca Musk. She named Elon after her American grandfather, John Elon Haldeman (born in Illinois).
In 1979, she divorced Errol Musk. Two years later, Elon, who was about 10 at the time, decided to live with his father, as he had the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and a computer, things which Maye could not afford to give the children, as a single parent. Kimbal joined Elon four years later. After graduating from high school, Elon decided to move to Canada; in 1989, six months later, Maye moved to Canada with her daughter Tosca.
Maye earned a master’s degree in dietetics from the University of the Orange Free State in South Africa. Her major was taught in Afrikaans – one of the four languages Musk now speaks. She later earned another master’s degree in nutritional science from the University of Toronto.
Her modelling career continued in Canada and the United States. She has appeared on boxes of Special K cereal, in Revlon ads, and in a Beyoncé video (“Haunted”). She appeared nude on the cover of Time magazine for a health issue and also nude on the cover of New York magazine in 2011 with a fake pregnant belly. She was on the cover of Elle Canada in 2012, and starred in advertisement campaigns for Target and Virgin America.
In September 2017, she became CoverGirl’s oldest spokesmodel at age 69, which one news story reported as “making history”. In 2022, at age 74, she was the oldest Sports Illustrated swimsuit model to date, appearing on the cover of the annual issue.
In addition to modelling, she has a business as a dietitian and gives presentations worldwide.
She wrote a memoir titled A Woman Makes a Plan: Advice for a Lifetime of Adventure, Beauty, and Success (2019).
In an interview with Forbes magazine, Musk said her greatest achievement was “having three great kids and surviving”.
In 2021, she was one of the guests at Lady Kitty Spencer’s wedding.
Maye Musk appeared alongside her son Elon on Saturday Night Live on May 8, 2021, the day before Mother’s Day.
In April 2023, Musk received an honorary doctorate from the University of the Free State in South Africa for her work as a dietitian.
In 2023, Musk signed with Chinese electronics giant Oppo to be the global ambassador for its flagship smartphone. Musk will appear in a series of commercials and events.