Allene Hughes died in March 1922 from complications of an ectopic pregnancy. Howard Hughes, Sr., died of a heart attack in 1924. Their deaths apparently inspired Hughes to include the creation of a medical research laboratory in his will that he signed in 1925 at age 19. Because Howard Sr.'s will had not been updated since Allene's death, Hughes inherited 75 percent of the family fortune. On his 19th birthday, Hughes was declared an emancipated minor, enabling him to take full control of his legacy.
Hughes was an excellent and enthusiastic golfer from a young age, often scoring near par figures, and held a handicap of three during his twenties. He played frequently with top players, including Gene Sarazen. Hughes rarely played competitively, and gradually gave up his interest in the sport to pursue other interests.
Hughes dropped out of Rice University shortly after his father's death. On June 1, 1925, he married Ella Botts Rice, daughter of David Rice and Martha Lawson Botts of Houston. They moved to Los Angeles, where he hoped to make a name for himself as a filmmaker.
Hughes enjoyed a highly successful business career beyond engineering, aviation, and filmmaking, though many of his career endeavors involved varying entrepreneurial roles. The Summa Corporation was the name adopted for the business interests of Howard Hughes after he sold the tool division of Hughes Tool Company in 1972. The company serves as the principal holding company for Hughes's business ventures and investments. The company is primarily involved in aerospace and defense, electronics, mass media, manufacturing and hospitality industries, but has maintained a strong presence in a wide variety of industries including real estate, hospitality, petroleum drilling and oilfield services, consulting, entertainment, and mining. Much of his fortune was later used for philanthropic causes, notably towards health care and medical research.
Hughes entered the entertainment industry after dropping out of Rice University and moving to Los Angeles. His first two films, Everybody's Acting (1927) and Two Arabian Knights (1928), were financial successes, the latter winning the first Academy Award for Best Director of a comedy picture.
Hughes spent $3.8 million to make the flying film Hell's Angels (1930). It earned nearly $8 million, about double the production and advertising costs. Hell's Angels received one Academy Award nomination, Best Cinematography.
He produced another hit, Scarface (1932), a production delayed by censors' concern over its violence.
The Outlaw (1943), completed in 1941, which featured Jane Russell, also received considerable attention from industry censors, this time owing to Russell's revealing costumes. Hughes designed a special bra for his leading lady, although Russell decided against wearing it.
For a period of time in the 1940s to late 1950s, Hughes Tool Company ventured into the film and media industry where it then owned the RKO companies, including: RKO Pictures; RKO Studios; RKO Theatres, a chain of movie theatres; the RKO Radio Network, a network of radio stations.
In 1948, Hughes gained control of RKO, a struggling major Hollywood studio, by acquiring 25 percent of the outstanding stock from Floyd Odlum's Atlas Corporation. Within weeks of taking control, he dismissed three-quarters of the work force and production was shut down for six months in 1949 while he undertook the investigation of the politics of all remaining studio employees. Completed pictures would be sent back for re-shooting if he felt his star (especially female) was not properly presented, or if a film's anti-communist politics were not sufficiently clear. In 1952, an abortive sale to a Chicago-based group with no experience in the industry disrupted studio operations even further.
Hughes sold the RKO theaters in 1953 as settlement of the United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. antitrust case. With the sale of the profitable theaters, the shaky status of the film studio became increasingly apparent. A steady stream of lawsuits from RKO's minority shareholders, charging him with financial misconduct and corporate mismanagement, became an increasing nuisance, especially because Hughes wanted to focus on his aircraft-manufacturing and TWA holdings during the Korean War years. Eager to be rid of the distraction, Hughes offered to buy out all other stockholders.
By the end of 1954, at a cost of nearly $24 million, he had gained near total control of RKO, becoming the closest thing to a sole owner of a Hollywood studio seen in three decades. Six months later, Hughes sold the studio to the General Tire and Rubber Company for $25 million. Hughes retained the rights to pictures he had personally produced, including those made at RKO. He also retained Jane Russell's contract. For Howard Hughes, this was the virtual end of his 25-year involvement in motion pictures; though he had all but destroyed a major Hollywood studio, his reputation as a financial wizard emerged unscathed. He reportedly walked away from RKO having made $6.5 million in personal profit.
General Tire was interested mainly in exploiting the value of the RKO library for television programming, though it made some attempts to continue producing films. After a year and a half of mixed success, General Tire shut down film production at RKO for good at the end of January 1957. The studio lots in Hollywood and Culver City were sold to Desilu Productions later that year for $6.15 million.
Beyond extending his business prowess in the manufacturing, aviation, entertainment, and hospitality industries, Hughes was also deeply involved in the real estate industry where he amassed vast holdings of undeveloped land both in Las Vegas and in the desert surrounding the city that had gone unused during his lifetime. In 1968, the Hughes Tool Company purchased the North Las Vegas Air Terminal.
Originally known as Summa Corporation, The Howard Hughes Corporation was formed in 1972 when the oil tools business of Hughes Tool Company, then owned by Howard Hughes, Jr., was floated on the New York Stock Exchange under the Hughes Tool name. This forced the remaining businesses of the "original" Hughes Tool to adopt a new corporate name Summa. The name "Summa", Latin for "highest", was adopted without the approval of Hughes himself, who preferred to keep his own name on the business and suggested HRH Properties (for Hughes Resorts and Hotels, and also his own initials).
Initially staying in the Desert Inn, Hughes refused to vacate his room and instead decided to purchase the entire hotel. Hughes extended his financial empire to include Las Vegas real estate, hotels and media outlets, spending an estimated $300 million and using his considerable powers to take-over many of the well known hotels, especially the organized crime connected venues and he quickly became one of the most powerful men in Las Vegas. He was instrumental in changing the image of Las Vegas from its Wild West roots into a more refined cosmopolitan city.
Another portion of Hughes's business interests lies in aviation, airlines, and the aerospace and defense industries. Hughes was a lifelong aircraft enthusiast and pilot. At Rogers Airport in Los Angeles, he learned to fly from pioneer aviators, including Moye Stephens. He set many world records and commissioned the construction of custom aircraft for himself while heading Hughes Aircraft at the airport in Glendale. Operating from there, the most technologically important aircraft he commissioned was the Hughes H-1 Racer. On September 13, 1935, Hughes, flying the H-1, set the landplane airspeed record of 352 mph (566 km/h) over his test course near Santa Ana, California (Giuseppe Motta reached 362 mph in 1929 and George Stainforth reached 407.5 mph in 1931, both in seaplanes). This was the last time in history that the world airspeed record was set in an aircraft built by a private individual. A year and a half later, on January 19, 1937, flying the same H-1 Racer fitted with longer wings, Hughes set a new transcontinental airspeed record by flying non-stop from Los Angeles to Newark in 7 hours, 28 minutes and 25 seconds (beating his own previous record of 9 hours, 27 minutes). His average ground speed over the flight was 322 mph (518 km/h).
The H-1 Racer featured a number of design innovations: it had retractable landing gear (as Boeing Monomail had five years before) and all rivets and joints set flush into the body of the aircraft to reduce drag. The H-1 Racer is thought to have influenced the design of a number of World War II fighters such as the Mitsubishi Zero, the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 and the F8F Bearcat; although that has never been reliably confirmed. The H-1 Racer was donated to the Smithsonian in 1975 and is on display at the National Air and Space Museum.
On July 10, 1938, Hughes set another record by completing a flight around the world in just 91 hours (3 days, 19 hours), beating the previous record by more than four hours; Hughes returned home ahead of photographs of his flight. Taking off from New York City, Hughes continued to Paris, Moscow, Omsk, Yakutsk, Fairbanks, Minneapolis, then returning to New York City. For this flight he flew a Lockheed Super Electra (a twin-engine transport with a four-man crew) fitted with the latest radio and navigational equipment. Hughes wanted the flight to be a triumph of American aviation technology, illustrating that safe, long-distance air travel was possible. While he had previously been relatively obscure despite his wealth, being better known for dating Katharine Hepburn, New York City now gave Hughes a ticker-tape parade in the Canyon of Heroes. In 1938, the William P. Hobby Airport in Houston, Texas—known at the time as Houston Municipal Airport—was renamed after Hughes, but the name was changed back after people objected to naming the airport after a living person.
Hughes received many awards as an aviator, including the Harmon Trophy in 1936 and 1938, the Collier Trophy and the Bibesco Cup of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale in 1938, the Octave Chanute Award in 1940, and a special Congressional Gold Medal in 1939 "in recognition of the achievements of Howard Hughes in advancing the science of aviation and thus bringing great credit to his country throughout the world". According to his obituary in the New York Times, Hughes never bothered to come to Washington to pick up the Congressional Gold Medal, which was eventually mailed to him.
Hughes D-2 and XF-11
The Hughes D-2 was conceived in 1939 as a bomber with five crew members, powered by 42-cylinder Wright R-2160 Tornado engines. In the end it appeared as two-seat fighter-reconnaissance aircraft designated the D-2A, powered by two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-49 engines. The aircraft was constructed using the Duramold process. The prototype was brought to Harper's Dry Lake California in great secrecy in 1943 and first flew on June 20 of that year. Acting on a recommendation of the president's son, Colonel Elliott Roosevelt, who had become friends with Hughes, in September 1943 the USAAF ordered 100 of a reconnaissance development of the D-2, known as the F-11. Hughes then attempted to get the military to pay for the development of the D-2. In November 1944, the hangar containing the D-2A was reportedly hit by lightning and the aircraft was destroyed. The D-2 design was abandoned, but led to the extremely controversial Hughes XF-11. The XF-11 was a large all-metal, two-seat reconnaissance aircraft, powered by two Pratt & Whitney R-4360-31 engines, each driving a set of contra-rotating propellers. Only the two prototypes were completed.
Near-fatal crash of the Sikorsky S-43
In the spring of 1943 Hughes spent nearly a month in Las Vegas, test flying his Sikorsky S-43 amphibian aircraft, practicing touch-and-go landings on Lake Mead in preparation for flying the H-4 Hercules. The weather conditions at the lake during the day were ideal and he enjoyed Las Vegas at night. On May 17, 1943, Hughes flew the Sikorsky from California carrying two CAA aviation inspectors, two of his employees and actress Ava Gardner. Hughes dropped Gardner off in Las Vegas and proceeded to Lake Mead to conduct qualifying tests in the S-43. The test flight did not go well. The Sikorsky crashed, killing CAA inspector Ceco Cline and Hughes employee Richard Felt. Hughes suffered a severe gash on the top of his head when he hit the upper control panel and had to be rescued by one of the others on board. Hughes paid divers $100,000 to raise the aircraft and later spent more than $500,000 restoring the aircraft.
Near-fatal crash of the XF-11
Hughes was involved in a near-fatal aircraft accident on July 7, 1946, while performing the first flight of the prototype U.S. Army Air Forces reconnaissance aircraft, the XF-11, near Hughes airfield at Culver City, California. An oil leak caused one of the contra-rotating propellers to reverse pitch, causing the aircraft to yaw sharply and lose altitude rapidly. Hughes tried to save the craft by landing it at the Los Angeles Country Club golf course, but just seconds before reaching the course, the XF-11 started to drop dramatically and crashed in the Beverly Hills neighborhood surrounding the country club.
When the XF-11 finally came to a halt after destroying three houses, the fuel tanks exploded, setting fire to the aircraft and a nearby home at 808 North Whittier Drive, owned by Lt Col. Charles E. Meyer. Hughes managed to pull himself out of the flaming wreckage but lay beside the aircraft until he was rescued by Marine Master Sgt. William L. Durkin, who happened to be in the area visiting friends. Hughes sustained significant injuries in the crash, including a crushed collar bone, multiple cracked ribs, crushed chest with collapsed left lung, shifting his heart to the right side of the chest cavity, and numerous third-degree burns. An oft-told story said that Hughes sent a check to the Marine weekly for the remainder of his life as a sign of gratitude. However, Durkin's daughter denied that he took any money for the rescue.
Despite his physical injuries, Hughes was proud that his mind was still working. As he lay in his hospital bed, he decided that he did not like the bed's design. He called in plant engineers to design a customized bed, equipped with hot and cold running water, built in six sections, and operated by 30 electric motors, with push-button adjustments. The hospital bed was designed by Hughes specifically to alleviate the pain caused by moving with severe burn injuries. Despite the fact that he never had the chance to use the bed that he designed, Hughes's bed served as a prototype for the modern hospital bed in common usage today. Hughes's recovery was considered by his doctors to be almost miraculous. Hughes, however, believed that neither miracle nor modern medicine contributed to his recovery. Instead he vigorously asserted that the natural life-giving properties of fresh squeezed orange juice (Hughes would only drink orange juice that he had personally witnessed being freshly squeezed) were responsible for his rapid recovery.
Hughes Aircraft Company, a division of Hughes Tool Company, was originally founded by Hughes in 1932, in a rented corner of a Lockheed Aircraft Corporation hangar in Burbank, California, to build the H-1 racer. During and after World War II, Hughes fashioned his company into a major defense contractor. The Hughes Helicopters division started in 1947 when helicopter manufacturer Kellett sold their latest design to Hughes for production. The company was a major American aerospace and defense contractor manufacturing numerous technology related products that include spacecraft vehicles, military aircraft, radar systems, electro-optical systems, the first working laser, aircraft computer systems, missile systems, ion-propulsion engines (for space travel), commercial satellites, and other electronics systems.
In 1948, Hughes created a new division of the company, the Hughes Aerospace Group. The Hughes Space and Communications Group and the Hughes Space Systems Division were later spun off in 1948 to form their own divisions and ultimately became the Hughes Space and Communications Company in 1961. In 1953, Howard Hughes gave all his stock in the Hughes Aircraft Company to the newly formed Howard Hughes Medical Institute, thereby turning the aerospace and defense contractor into a tax-exempt charitable organization. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute sold Hughes Aircraft in 1985 to General Motors for $5.2 billion. In 1997, General Motors sold Hughes Aircraft to Raytheon and in 2000, sold Hughes Space & Communications to Boeing. A combination of Boeing, GM and Raytheon acquired the Hughes Research Laboratories, where it focused on advanced developments in microelectronics, information & systems sciences, materials, sensors, and photonics; their workspace spans from basic research to product delivery. It has particularly emphasized capabilities in high performance integrated circuits, high power lasers, antennas, networking, and smart materials.
In 1939, at the urging of Jack Frye, president of TWA, Hughes quietly purchased a majority share of TWA stock for nearly $7 million and took control of the airline. Upon assuming ownership, Hughes was prohibited by federal law from building his own aircraft. Seeking an aircraft that would perform better than TWA's fleet of Boeing 307 Stratoliners, Hughes and Frye approached Boeing's competitor, Lockheed. Hughes had a good relationship with Lockheed since they had built the aircraft he used in his record flight around the world in 1938. Lockheed agreed to Hughes and Frye's request that the new aircraft be built in secrecy. The result was the revolutionary Constellation and TWA purchased the first 40 of the new airliners off the production line.
In 1956, Hughes placed an order for 63 Convair 880s for TWA at a cost of $400 million. Although Hughes was extremely wealthy at this time, outside creditors demanded that Hughes relinquish control of TWA in return for providing the money. In 1960, Hughes was ultimately forced out of TWA, although he owned 78% of the company and battled to regain control.
Before Hughes' removal, the TWA jet financing issue precipitated the end of Hughes' relationship with Noah Dietrich. Dietrich claimed Hughes developed a plan by which Hughes Tool Company profits were to be inflated to sell the company for a windfall that would pay the bills for the 880s. Dietrich agreed to go to Texas to implement the plan on the condition that Hughes agreed to a capital gains arrangement he had long promised Dietrich. When Hughes balked, Dietrich resigned immediately. "Noah", Dietrich quoted Hughes as replying, "I cannot exist without you!" Dietrich stood firm and eventually had to sue to retrieve personal possessions from his office after Hughes ordered it locked.
In 1966, Hughes was forced by a U.S. federal court to sell his shares in TWA because of concerns over conflict of interest between his ownership of both TWA and Hughes Aircraft. The sale of his TWA shares netted him a profit of $547 million. During the 1970s, Hughes went back into the airline business, buying the airline Air West and renaming it Hughes Airwest.
In 1929 Hughes' wife, Ella, returned to Houston and filed for divorce. Hughes dated many famous women, including Billie Dove, Bette Davis, Ava Gardner, Olivia de Havilland, Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers and Gene Tierney. There were also rumors of homosexual liaisons with a number of actors. He also proposed to Joan Fontaine several times, according to her autobiography No Bed of Roses. Jean Harlow accompanied him to the premiere of Hell's Angels, but Noah Dietrich wrote many years later that the relationship was strictly professional, as Hughes apparently personally disliked Harlow. In his 1971 book, Howard: The Amazing Mr. Hughes, Dietrich said that Hughes genuinely liked and respected Jane Russell, but never sought romantic involvement with her. According to Russell's autobiography, however, Hughes once tried to bed her after a party. Russell (who was married at the time) refused him, and Hughes promised it would never happen again. The two maintained a professional and private friendship for many years. Hughes remained good friends with Tierney who, after his failed attempts to seduce her, was quoted as saying "I don't think Howard could love anything that did not have a motor in it." Later, when Tierney's daughter Daria was born deaf and blind and with a severe learning disability, because of Tierney's being exposed to rubella during her pregnancy, Hughes saw to it that Daria received the best medical care and paid all expenses.
In 1933, Hughes purchased unseen the Rover, a luxury steam yacht previously owned by British shipping magnate Lord Inchcape. "I have never seen the Rover but bought it on the blue prints, photographs and the reports of Lloyd's surveyors. My experience is that the English are the most honest race in the world. Hughes renamed the yacht Southern Cross and later sold her to Swedish entrepreneur Axel Wenner-Gren.
On July 11, 1936, Hughes struck and killed a pedestrian named Gabriel S. Meyer with his car, at the corner of 3rd Street and Lorraine in Los Angeles. Although Hughes was certified as sober at the hospital to which he was taken after the accident, an attending doctor made a note that Hughes had been drinking. A witness to the accident told police that Hughes was driving erratically and too fast, and that Meyer had been standing in the safety zone of a streetcar stop. Hughes was booked on suspicion of negligent homicide and held overnight in jail until his attorney, Neil McCarthy, obtained a writ of habeas corpus for his release pending a coroner's inquest. By the time of the coroner's inquiry, however, the witness had changed his story and claimed that Meyer had moved directly in front of Hughes's car. Nancy Bayly (Watts), who was in the car with Hughes at the time of the accident, corroborates this version. On July 16, 1936, Hughes was held blameless by a coroner's jury at the inquest into Meyer's death. Hughes told reporters outside the inquiry, "I was driving slowly and a man stepped out of the darkness in front of me."
On January 12, 1957, Hughes married actress Jean Peters. The couple met in the 1940s, before Peters became a film actress. They had a highly publicized romance in 1947 and there was talk of marriage, but she said she could not combine it with her career. Some later claimed that Peters was "the only woman [Hughes] ever loved", and he reportedly had his security officers follow her everywhere even when they were not in a relationship. Such reports were confirmed by actor Max Showalter, who became a close friend of Peters while shooting Niagara (1953). Showalter told in an interview that because he frequently met with Peters, Hughes' men threatened to ruin his career if he did not leave her alone.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
In 1953, Hughes launched the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Miami, Florida, and currently located in Chevy Chase, Maryland, formed with the express goal of basic biomedical research, including trying to understand, in Hughes' words, the "genesis of life itself", due to his lifelong interest in science and technology. Hughes' first will, which he signed in 1925 at the age of 19, stipulated that a portion of his estate should be used to create a medical institute bearing his name. When a major battle with the IRS loomed ahead, Hughes gave all his stock in the Hughes Aircraft Company to the institute, thereby turning the aerospace and defense contractor into a for-profit entity of a fully tax-exempt charity. Hughes' internist, Verne Mason, who treated Hughes after his 1946 aircraft crash, was chairman of the institute's medical advisory committee. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute's new board of trustees sold Hughes Aircraft in 1985 to General Motors for $5.2 billion, allowing the institute to grow dramatically.
The deal was the topic of a protracted legal battle between Hughes and the Internal Revenue Service, which Hughes ultimately won. After his death in 1976, many thought that the balance of Hughes' estate would go to the institute, although it was ultimately divided among his cousins and other heirs, given the lack of a will to the contrary. The HHMI was the 4th largest private organization as of 2007 and the largest devoted to biological and medical research, with an endowment of $16.3 billion as of June 2007.
Shortly before the 1960 Presidential election, Richard Nixon was harmed when it was revealed that his brother, Donald, received a $205,000 loan from Hughes. It has long been speculated that Nixon's drive to learn what the Democrats were planning in 1972 was based in part on his belief that the Democrats knew about a later bribe that his friend Bebe Rebozo had received from Hughes after Nixon took office.
In late 1971, Donald Nixon was collecting intelligence for his brother in preparation for the upcoming presidential election. One of Donald's sources was John H. Meier, a former business adviser of Hughes who had also worked with Democratic National Committee Chair Larry O'Brien.
Meier, in collaboration with former Vice President of the United States Hubert Humphrey and others, wanted to feed misinformation to the Nixon campaign. Meier told Donald that he was sure the Democrats would win the election because Larry O’Brien had a great deal of information on Richard Nixon’s illicit dealings with Howard Hughes that had never been released; O’Brien didn’t actually have any such information, but Meier wanted Nixon to think he did. Donald told his brother that O’Brien was in possession of damaging Hughes information that could destroy his campaign. Terry Lenzner, who was the chief investigator for the Senate Watergate Committee, speculates that it was Nixon's desire to know what O'Brien knew about Nixon's dealings with Hughes that may have partially motivated the Watergate break-in.
In 1972, Hughes was approached by the CIA to help secretly recover Soviet submarine K-129 which had sunk near Hawaii four years earlier. Thus, the special-purpose salvage vessel Glomar Explorer was born. Hughes' involvement provided the CIA with a plausible cover story, having to do with civilian marine research at extreme depths and the mining of undersea manganese nodules. In the summer of 1974, Glomar Explorer attempted to raise the Soviet vessel.
However, during the recovery a mechanical failure in the ship's grapple caused half of the submarine to break off and fall to the ocean floor. This section is believed to have held many of the most sought-after items, including its code book and nuclear missiles. Two nuclear-tipped torpedoes and some cryptographic machines were recovered, along with the bodies of six Soviet submariners who were subsequently given formal burial at sea in a filmed ceremony. The operation, known as Project Azorian (but incorrectly referred to by the press as Project Jennifer), became public in February 1975 when burglars obtained secret documents from Hughes' headquarters in June 1974. Though he lent his name to the operation, Hughes and his companies had no actual involvement in the project.
Obsessive–compulsive disorder and physical decline
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As early as the 1930s, Hughes displayed signs of mental illness, primarily obsessive-compulsive disorder. Close friends reported that he was obsessed with the size of peas, one of his favorite foods, and used a special fork to sort them by size.
While directing The Outlaw, Hughes became fixated on a minor flaw in one of Jane Russell's blouses, claiming that the fabric bunched up along a seam and gave the appearance of two nipples on each breast. He was reportedly so upset by the matter that he wrote a detailed memorandum to the crew on how to fix the problem. Richard Fleischer, who directed His Kind of Woman with Hughes as executive producer, wrote at length in his autobiography about the difficulty of dealing with the tycoon. In his book, Just Tell Me When to Cry, Fleischer explained that Hughes was fixated on trivial details and was alternately indecisive and obstinate. He also revealed that Hughes's unpredictable mood swings made him wonder if the film would ever be completed.
In 1947, after the U.S. Government rejected his massive H-4 Hercules, Hughes who had suffered a near-fatal aircraft crash in 1946 told his aides that he wanted to screen some movies at a film studio near his home. He stayed in the studio's darkened screening room for more than four months, never leaving. He ate only chocolate bars and chicken and drank only milk, later urinating in the empty bottles and containers. He was surrounded by dozens of Kleenex boxes that he continuously stacked and re-arranged. He wrote detailed memos to his aides giving them explicit instructions not to look at him nor speak to him unless spoken to. Throughout this period, Hughes sat fixated in his chair, often naked, continually watching movies. When he finally emerged in the spring of 1948, his hygiene was terrible, he had not bathed nor cut his hair and nails for weeks although this may have been due to allodynia.
After the screening room incident, Hughes moved into a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel where he also rented rooms for his aides, his wife and his numerous girlfriends. His erratic behavior continued, however, as he would sit naked in his bedroom with a pink hotel napkin placed over his genitals, watching movies. This may have been because Hughes found the touch of clothing painful due to the aforementioned allodynia. He probably watched movies constantly to distract him from his pain, a common practice among patients with intractable pain, especially those who do not receive adequate treatment. In one year, Hughes spent an estimated $11 million at the hotel.
In a bout of obsession with his home state, Hughes began purchasing all restaurant chains and four star hotels that had been founded within the borders of Texas. This included, if for only a short period, many unknown franchises currently out of business. Ownership of the restaurants was placed in the hands of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and all licenses were resold shortly after.
Hughes insisted on using tissues to pick up objects, so that he could insulate himself from germs. He would also notice dust, stains or other imperfections on people's clothes and demand that they take care of them.
Once one of the most visible men in America, Hughes ultimately vanished from public view, although the tabloids continued to follow rumors of his behavior and whereabouts. He was reported to be terminally ill, mentally unstable or even dead.
As a result of numerous aircraft crashes, Hughes spent much of his later life in pain, eventually becoming physically dependent on codeine, which he injected intramuscularly. Hughes had his hair cut and nails trimmed only once a year, likely due to the pain caused by the RSD/CRPS, which was caused by the plane crashes.
A further $156 million was endowed to a gas-station owner named Melvin Dummar, who told reporters that late one evening in December 1967, he found a disheveled and dirty man lying along U.S. Highway 95, 150 miles (240 km) north of Las Vegas. The man asked for a ride to Las Vegas. Dropping him off at the Sands Hotel, Dummar said the man told him he was Hughes. Dummar then claimed that days after Hughes' death, a "mysterious man" appeared at his gas station, leaving an envelope containing the will on his desk. Unsure if the will was genuine, and unsure of what to do, Dummar left the will at the LDS Church office. In a trial lasting seven months, the Mormon Will was eventually rejected by the Nevada court in June 1978 as a forgery. The court declared that Hughes had died intestate.
Hughes' $2.5 billion estate was eventually split in 1983 among 22 cousins, including William Lummis, who serves as a trustee of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dummar was largely discounted by the public as a phony and an opportunist. Jonathan Demme's film Melvin and Howard (starring Jason Robards and Paul Le Mat), was based on Dummar's tale.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Hughes Aircraft was owned by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which sold it to General Motors in 1985 for $5.2 billion. Suits brought by the states of California and Texas claiming they were owed inheritance tax were both rejected by the court. In 1984, Hughes' estate paid an undisclosed amount to Terry Moore, who claimed to have been secretly married to Hughes on a yacht in international waters off Mexico in 1949 and never divorced. Although Moore never produced proof of a marriage, her book, The Beauty and the Billionaire, became a bestseller.
Howard Hughes has now emerged as one of the 20th century's most iconic business and aviation figures spawning a wide range of cultural references.
- Two Tickets to Broadway (1951) Janet Leigh plays a small-town girl who hopes to make it big in the Big Apple.
- The Carpetbaggers (1964) George Peppard plays a hard-driven industrialist more than a little reminiscent of Howard Hughes.
- Willard Whyte, a billionaire from the 1971 James Bond film, Diamonds Are Forever, is based on Howard Hughes. Hughes, a friend of producer Albert Broccoli, allowed his hotel and casino to be used in the filming.
- The Amazing Howard Hughes (1977), directed by William A. Graham, with Tommy Lee Jones as Howard Hughes, from ages 18 to 70.
- Melvin and Howard (1980), directed by Jonathan Demme and starring Jason Robards (a distant cousin$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)", Mr. Burns refused to leave his room after the opening of his casino and developed a paranoid obsession with germs and cleanliness; his hair and nails became unkempt, all of which parody Hughes' later life. He also made a small model airplane called the Spruce Moose (in reference to the Spruce Goose), which he perceived to be real.
- In the Beverly Hillbillies episode, The Clampett-Hewes Empire, Mr. Drysdale gets enthusiastic whan he hears the news that Jed Clampett is going into the airport business with "Howard Hughes" and does everything he can to make "Mr. Hughes" as welcome as possible (even putting together a small girl chorus singing "We Love You Howard Hughes")...until he discovers to his chagrin the "Howard Hughes" Jed Clampett is partnering with is not the famous billionaire airplane aficionado; he's nothing but a plain old, impoverished, henpecked husband farmer whose last name is Hewes (H-E-W-E-S)!
- Andrew Ryan, partially based on Hughes, is a fictional character in the 2007 video game, BioShock. He was an industrialist business magnate in the Post-WW2 1940s, and seeking to avoid governments, religions and other 'parasitic' influences, ordered the secret construction of an underwater city, Rapture. 15+ Years later, when Ryan's vision for an Objectivist utopia in Rapture falls into dystopia, he hides himself away and uses armies of mutated humans, "Splicers", to defend himself and fight against those trying to take over his City, including the player-character Jack within the first game.
- Robert House, largely based on Hughes, is a fictional character in the 2010 video game, "Fallout: New Vegas". He was a naturally gifted engineer and aerospace enthusiast, much like the real Hughes. The game takes place in an alternate reality in 2281 after a catastrophic nuclear war took place in 2077. Mr. House defends Las Vegas against most of the missiles and preserves his life through robotics and computers, eventually coming to control the post-apocalyptic "New Vegas" which the player character experiences. Many references are made to the life of Hughes, including a family-owned tool company, a crashed plane in Lake Mead, and an in-game photo akin to the famous photo of Hughes standing before a Boeing P-12.
- In L.A. Noire, Hughes makes an appearance presenting his Hercules H-4 aircraft in the opening introduction of the game.
- Howard Hughes appears as a character in Death and Honor (Putnam, 2008), W.E.B. Griffin's fictional account of the clandestine espionage activities of agents of the United States Office of Strategic Services (the "OSS") during World War II. In the novel, Hughes is portrayed as an unofficial intelligence community insider.
- Howard Hughes also appears as a character in James Ellroy's L.A. Quartet and Underworld USA Trilogy. In the latter saga, Hughes is described as reclusive, eccentric and mentally disturbed. He plans to take over the mafia's casinos in Las Vegas to establish a "germ-free environment" for his residence.
- Stan Lee has repeatedly stated he created the Marvel Comics character Iron Man's civilian persona, Tony Stark, drawing inspiration from Howard Hughes' colorful lifestyle and personality. Additionally, the first name of Stark's father is Howard.
- Jonas Cord, primary character in the Harold Robbins novel, The Carpetbaggers, is a literary twin of Howard Hughes.
- In the novel Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut, the character Mary Kathleen O'Looney has several traits that were obviously modeled after Howard Hughes (living as a paranoid homeless person while simultaneously being immensely rich and the CEO of a huge corporation, her orders validated by her fingerprints only).
See alsoHouston portal
- "Howard Hughes." U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission, 2003. Retrieved: January 5, 2008.
- "Howard Hughes." about.com. Retrieved: January 5, 2008.
- "Golf's Bizarre Billionaire." golfonline.com. Retrieved: September 4, 2007.
- Barkow 1986, p. 13.
- Lasky 1989, p. 229.
- Onkst, David H. "Howard R. Hughes, Jr. – The Record Setter." U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission, 2003. Retrieved: January 5, 2008.
- "Aviator Howard Hughes H-1 Racer History." wrightools.com. Retrieved: January 5, 2008.
- "A Rich Young Texan with a Poet's Face Gets Hero's Welcome on World Flight." Life , July 25, 1938, pp. 9–11, 14. Retrieved: October 14, 2012.
- Rumerman, Judy. "Hughes Aircraft." centennialofflight.net, 2003. Retrieved: August 5, 2008.
- "Aircraft Ha to Hy." Aerofiles. Retrieved: July 31, 2011.
- Parker 2013, pp. 49–51
- "Hughes: Las Vegas." aviatorhowardhughes.com. Retrieved: 31 July 2011.
- Brown and Broeske 1996
- "Crash of the XF-11." check-six.com. Retrieved: January 5, 2008.
- Parker 2013, pp. 50-51.
- Barlett and Steele 2004, p. 140.
- "William Durkin, Howard Hughes crash rescuer, dies." Nation SunJournal, May 1, 2006. Retrieved: July 4, 2013.
- "Howard Hughes: XF-11." UNLV Libraries' Howard Hughes Collection. Retrieved: January 5, 2008.
- "William Durkin; rescued Howard Hughes in crash." Boston.com, May 2, 2006. Retrieved: January 17, 2012.
- "Hughes Designs Hospital Bed." Associated Press wire article, August 14, 1946.
- Barlett and Steele 2004, p. 143.
- Tennant, F. (2007). Howard Hughes and pseudoaddiction. Practical Pain Management 7:6 12.
- "Mask of the Iron Man". Game Informer (177): 81. January 2008.
- Barkow, Al. Gettin' to the Dance Floor: An Oral History of American Golf. Short Hills, New Jersey: Burford Books, 1986. ISBN 1-58080-043-2.
- Barton, Charles. Howard Hughes and his Flying Boat. Fallbrook, CA: Aero Publishers, 1982. Republished in 1998, Vienna, VA: Charles Barton, Inc. ISBN 0-9663175-0-5.
- Barlett, Donald L. and James B. Steele. Empire: The Life, Legend and Madness of Howard Hughes. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1979. ISBN 0-393-07513-3, republished in 2004 as Howard Hughes: His Life and Madness.
- Bellett, Gerald. Age of Secrets: The Conspiracy that Toppled Richard Nixon and the Hidden Death of Howard Hughes. Stillwater, Minnesota: Voyageur Press, 1995. ISBN 0-921842-42-2.
- Brown, Peter Harry and Pat H. Broeske. Howard Hughes: The Untold Story. New York: Penguin Books, 1996. ISBN 0-525-93785-4.
- Burleson, Clyde W. The Jennifer Project. College Station, Texas: Texas A&M University Press, 1997. ISBN 0-89096-764-4.
- Dietrich, Noah and Bob Thomas. Howard: The Amazing Mr. Hughes. New York: Fawcett Publications, 1972. ISBN 00449025651.
- Drosnin, Michael. Citizen Hughes: In his Own Words, How Howard Hughes Tried to Buy America. Portland, Oregon: Broadway Books, 2004. ISBN 0-7679-1934-3.
- Hack, Richard. Hughes: The Private Diaries, Memos and Letters: The Definitive Biography of the First American Billionaire. Beverly Hills, California: New Millennium Press, 2002. ISBN 1-893224-64-3.
- Herman, Arthur. Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II. New York: Random House, 2012. ISBN 978-1-4000-6964-4.
- Higham, Charles. Howard Hughes: The Secret Life, 1993.
- Irving, Clifford. The Hoax. New York: E. Reads Ltd., 1999. ISBN 978-0-7592-3868-8.
- Klepper, Michael and Michael Gunther. The Wealthy 100: From Benjamin Franklin to Bill Gates—A Ranking of the Richest Americans, Past and Present. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Publishing Group, 1996. ISBN 978-0-8065-1800-8
- Marrett, George J. Howard Hughes: Aviator. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 2004. ISBN 1-59114-510-4.
- Kistler, Ron. I Caught Flies for Howard Hughes. Chicago: Playboy Press, 1976. ISBN 0-87223-447-9.
- Lasky, Betty. RKO: The Biggest Little Major of Them All, 2d ed . Santa Monica, California: Roundtable, 1989. ISBN 0-915677-41-5.
- Maheu, Robert and Richard Hack. Next to Hughes: Behind the Power and Tragic Downfall of Howard Hughes by his Closest Adviser. New York: Harper Collins, 1992. ISBN 0-06-016505-7.
- Moore, Terry. The Beauty and the Billionaire. New York: Pocket Books, 1984. ISBN 0-671-50080-5.
- Moore, Terry and Jerry Rivers. The Passions of Howard Hughes. Los Angeles: General Publishing Group, 1996. ISBN 1-881649-88-1.
- Parker, Dana T. Building Victory: Aircraft Manufacturing in the Los Angeles Area in World War II, Cypress, California: Dana T. Parker Books, 2013. ISBN 978-0-98979-060-4.
- Phelan, James. Howard Hughes: The Hidden Years. New York, Random House, 1976. ISBN 0-394-41042-4.
- Real, Jack. The Asylum of Howard Hughes. Philadelphia: Xlibris Corporation, 2003. ISBN 1-4134-0875-3.
- Thomas, Bob. Liberace: The True Story. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987. ISBN 0-312-01469-4.
- Tierney, Gene with Mickey Herskowitz. Self-Portrait. New York: Peter Wyden, 1979. lSBN 0-883261-52-9.
- Weaver, Tom. Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Flashbacks: Conversations with 24 Actors, Writers, Producers and Directors from the Golden Age. New York: McFarland & Company, 2004. ISBN 0-7864-2070-7.
- Photograph collections related to Hughes: Houston Public Library; University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum; Charles Barton, Inc.