Dr. Harold Bornstein, Trump’s eccentric Jewish doctor, dead at 73 by the Forward

Dr. Harold Bornstein, Trump’s eccentric Jewish doctor, dead at 73

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Dr. Harold Bornstein, the Jewish doctor who cared for President Trump and his family has died.

Bornstein rocketed to fame during Trump’s election campaign for signing a letter which claimed “unequivocally” that despite being the oldest president in American history, Trump would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”

In addition to being Trump’s personal physician before the election, he treated other members of the family — including Eric, Don Jr., Tiffany and ex-wife Ivana.

The New York-born doctor had taken over the practice of his father, Jacob Bornstein, who grew up in a Yiddish speaking home.

The elder Bornstein was Harold’s inspiration to enter the medical field. Jacob Bornstein managed to attend Harvard Medical School at a time when it had strict quotas for Jewish students.

Though his father was a Yiddish speaker, Harold Bornstein had something of an obsession with Italian, adorning his business cards with the appellation “dottore molto famoso,” meaning “very famous doctor.” He learned the language by paying women he found on Craigslist to teach him and even gave a speech in Italian at his son’s bar mitzvah.

With the medical practice, Bornstein also inherited its most famous patients, the Trumps.

Unlike his famous patients, the eccentric doctor had been particularly media shy, avoiding the press and even threatening some of the journalists he did agree to speak with. After a three-hour interview with STAT, an outlet which covers the medical field, Bronstein apparently changed his mind and tried to stop them from running the story.

“I happen to have known the Sulzbergers for 50 years,” Bornstein told the STAT reporter, referring to the family that runs The New York Times. “I’m going to make sure you don’t ever work again if you do this.”

STAT ran the story nonetheless, but one reason for Bornstein’s trepidation may have been the lackadaisical attitude he displayed toward the president’s health during the interview.

“If something happens to him, then it happens to him,” Bornstein said. “It’s like all the rest of us, no? That’s why we have a vice president and a speaker of the House and a whole line of people. They can just keep dying.”

Though he had little contact with the president after his ascension to office, his relationship with the Trumps finally soured after Dr. Bornstein agreed to give an interview to The New York Times in which he revealed that the president took hair growth medication.

A few days later, representatives of President Trump raided his office, taking all medical documents relating to the president, he told NBC news shortly after, saying the experience left him feeling “raped.”

Bornstein eventually admitted to CNN that he did not write the letter which first brought his name to the public eye, but that its language was dictated to him by President Trump.

Despite his famous patients, during an interview with the alumni magazine of Tufts University School of Medicine, his alma mater, Bornstein quipped that his greatest success was being able to maintain his eccentric demeanor. “My greatest successes have been avoiding managed-care medicine and refusing to have the conservative beard and haircut that my parents thought was necessary for success.” he said.

Bornstein is survived by his wife, Melissa, his daughter, Alix, and sons Robyn and Joseph, who followed their father and grandfather into the medical profession, as well as Jeremee, and Jackson, who did not.


David Ian Klein

David Ian Klein

David Ian Klein covers breaking news and international Jewish communities for the Forward. You can reach him at Klein@forward.com and on Twitter @davidianklein.

Dr. Harold Bornstein, Trump’s Jewish doctor, dead at 73

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