Donald Trump tapped my arm as we flew to Los Angeles on his jet and, between bites of Oreos, confided a little something: "Clint Eastwood is the greatest star ever," he said. "All those Sergio Leone westerns. Nobody was cooler."
This wasn't entirely true, I suspected. Deep down inside, Trump has always believed that he's the greatest star who has ever existed.
Once upon a time -- long before the carnival that is the 2016 presidential election -- Trump set his sights on Hollywood.
When Trump was 18, he wanted to be a movie producer. He told me that he considered attending the University of Southern California to study filmmaking after he graduated from military school in 1964 (several years later he even produced an ill-fated Broadway show, "Paris Is Out"). Inevitably, perhaps, he was drawn instead into his father's real estate business.
Still, Trump's fascination with movies never wavered, a fact that became abundantly clear as I traveled with him in 2004 and 2005 to report a book on his life and business. (Disclosure: Trump later sued me for that book because, among other things, it questioned the size of his fortune. The suit was later dismissed. )