This post was originally published as part of “The Trump Files”—a collection of telling episodes, strange but true stories, and curious scenes from the life of our current president—on June 6, 2016.
On June 16, 1990, the day after Donald Trump missed a $43 million payment on bonds he used to finance Trump Castle, the mogul visited his Atlantic City casino for a blowout celebrating his 44th birthday. The party capped off a day that had started with a pro-Trump rally held by casino employees—”Let’s stand behind our Donald, because he’s the father of our babies,” one worker urged the crowd. The rally featured a “professional motivator” to whip up the audience, and one worker presented the tycoon with a gift: an eight-foot-tall “rug portrait” of Trump.
The party at the Castle’s Crystal Ballroom was an over-the-top bash with bands, confetti, and a cheering crowd. Robin Leach, the host of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, walked out of a fake Trump Shuttle to act as a hype man before other celebrities showed up in person and onstage. As then-Village Voice reporter Wayne Barrett described in his book, Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth:
Dolly Parton and Elton John appeared on giant screens to wish Donald a happy birthday, with Parton asking to work the Taj instead of her regular Castle gig and promising to charge only $100,000 a show. Joe Piscopo did his Sinatra imitation on the birthday song, followed by a string of Jap gags—oblivious to the presence of several Japanese high rollers in the front rows—even cracking that Atlantic City would be owned by the Japanese if it wasn’t for Donald. A George Bush imitator declared Donald should be President…A chorus line in skintight outfits gyrated around chairs singing longingly about Donald’s dollars. Then Andrew Dice Clay appeared on another giant screen to thank Donald for the Taj hookers, saying they had stamps on their asses to show they’d had their shots.
Sadly, Barrett couldn’t attend the event. He was arrested on his third attempt to get into the ballroom and cover the party. But his research assistant managed to enter the ballroom and cover the festivities.