Best known for: aviator, movie producer, billionaire,
Howard Robard Hughes, Jr., December 24, 1905, in Houston.
Mother: Allene (Gano) Hughes (died March 29, 1922); Father: Howard Robard
Hughes, Sr., founder of Hughes Tool Company (died January 14, 1924);
Uncle: father's brother Rupert, a writer for Samuel Goldwyn's movie
studios; Wives: Houston socialite Ella Rice (married June 1, 1925, divorced
in 1929); Actress Jean Peters (married 1957, divorced 1970); Hughes
often dated Hollywood actresses in the 1930s, especially Katherine Hepburn.
Education: Hughes attended private school in Boston, where he was better
at golf than classwork. He was attending Thacher School in California
when his mother died. In California, Hughes spent time with his uncle,
Rupert, who inspired his later interest in filmmaking. Hughes never
graduated from high school. Nonetheless, his father arranged for him
to sit in on classes at Cal Tech by donating money to the school. Afterward,
Howard returned to Houston and enrolled at Rice Institute (now Rice
University). Howard, Sr. died suddenly a few weeks after his son turned
eighteen. Young Howard inherited much of the family estate and dropped
out of Rice.
Profession: Family business: Uncle Rupert supervised Howard's part of
the estate and interests in the Hughes Tool Company until he was twenty-one.
Family quarrels led Howard to have company lawyers buy out his relatives.
A Houston judge and friend of his late father's granted Howard legal
adulthood on December 26, 1924, allowing him to take over the tool company.
Movies: Following the summer of 1924, Howard and Ella moved to Hollywood
to pursue Howard's interest in making movies. When his first attempt
failed, he hired Noah Dietrich to head the movie subsidiary of his tool
company, and Lewis Mileston as director. The new team won an academy
award for Two Arabian Nights (1928). Their next film, Hell's Angels
(1930), written and directed by Hughes and starring Jean Harlow, was
the most expensive movie of its time at a cost of $3.8 million. This
movie, about World War I aviators, lost $1.5 million at the box office
but allowed Hughes to indulge his interest in flying. While shooting
Hell's Angels, Hughes earned his pilot's license.
later Hughes films tested the limits of public morality. Scarface (1932)
was censored until Hughes sued to allow its release, and The Outlaw
(1941) became controversial for its sexually explicit advertising and
content, both featuring a sensational décolletage worn by a busty
Jane Russell. Inspired by the excitement over The Outlaw, Hughes later
took a break from airplane fuselage design to create the half-cup bra,
modelled of course by his Hollywood discovery, Jane Russell.
was in the '30s that Hughes built the Texas Theater, the movie house
in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas in which Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested
in 1963. The closeness of both men to the CIA makes it all but certain
that the Texas Theater would have become a clandestine meeting place
for spies. Such use of movie theaters had long been a staple of espionage
tradecraft, and other Hughes properties were put to similar use. Hughes
owned the RKO movie studio from 1948 to 1955.
In 1932, Hughes formed the Hughes Aircraft Company division of Hughes
Tool. The company has pioneered many innovations in aerospace technology.
But its origin was an attempt to finance the expensive conversion of
a military plane into a racing plane. The next year, he achieved a false
status by lobbying the Commerce Department to lower his pilot's license
number from 4223 to 80.
Lindbergh's number was 69. The only real job Hughes ever had also came
in 1933. He signed on as a co-pilot for American Airways. He applied
under the name Charles W. Howard. The ruse was quickly discovered, however,
and Hughes resigned. After entering and winning the 1934 All-America
Air Meet in Miami, Hughes built and personally test-piloted the world's
most advanced plane, the H-1. On September 13, 1935, he set a new speed
record, taking the plane to 352 mph.
the next two years, he set two new records with transcontinental flights.
Between July 10 and 14, 1938, Hughes piloted a special Lockheed 14 with
a crew of four on a flight around the world. He cut Lindbergh's New
York to Paris record in half, and finished the trip in three days, nineteen
hours and seventeen minutes. Houston's airport was renamed in his honor.
World War II approached, Hughes turned his full attention to building
military aircraft. But his regard for secrecy and disregard for military
protocol and standardized materials kept him from getting contracts.
Henry J. Kaiser, the famous shipbuilder, helped Hughes get a contract
to build three "flying boats" for $18 million in three months.
Those terms proved impossible for Hughes. In the end, he produced only
one of the planes after the war ended. It was flown only once on November
2, 1947, by Hughes himself. The public ridiculed him by calling the
plane "The Spruce Goose." Another wartime contract for reconnaissance
planes went similarly unfulfilled, and caused the deaths of two people
when Hughes crashed during a test flight at Lake Mead. In 1947, the
Senate investigated Hughes failure to meet his wartime contracts. In
the 1950s and beyond, Hughes manufactured spy satellites.
Military-Industrial Complex: Throughout the 1950s, as the power of three
entities grew -- the Hughes empire, organized crime, and the new Central
Intelligence Agency -- it became all but impossible to distinguish between
the end of the decade, Hughes' chief of staff, Robert Maheu, had orchestrated
the CIA's dirtiest secret -- plots to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel
Castro with the help of two heads of organized crime. Vice President
Richard Nixon was the White House action officer in the clandestine
attempts to oust Castro. Zapata Off-Shore, the oil company owned by
future CIA director and U.S. president George Bush after he split it
off from Zapata Oil partner Hugh Liedtke in 1954, had a drilling rig
on the Cay Sal Bank in 1958. These islands had been leased to Nixon
supporter and CIA contractor Howard Hughes the previous year and were
later used as a base for CIA raids on Cuba. Nixon lost the 1960 presidential
election to John F. Kennedy largely because of a scandal over a never
repaid $205,000 "loan" Nixon's brother received from Hughes.
As attorney general, Robert Kennedy secretly investigated the Hughes-Nixon
After Bobby Kennedy's assassination in 1968, Maheu and Hughes hired
long-time Kennedy advisor Larry O'Brien along with other political insiders
to protect their interests in Washington. In 1953, Hughes had founded
the Hughes Medical Institute in Delaware as his sole act of philanthropy.
By turning over all of the stock of Hughes Aircraft Company to the institute,
he made his billion-dollar-a-year weapons factory a tax-exempt charity.
1969, that scam was about to be shut down by a Senate bill, which followed
an investigation by fellow Texan Wright Patman, the powerful chairman
of the House Banking Committee. But O'Brien lobbied his allies and got
a loophole creating an exemption for "medical research organizations"
like the Hughes Medical Institute.
President Nixon's downfall began when he ordered burglars to break into
Larry O'Brien's office in 1972. At the time, O'Brien was both a Hughes
employee and chairman of the Democratic National Committee, headquartered
in the Watergate Hotel. The Watergate burglars happened to have been
heavily involved in the covert anti-Castro operations (which Nixon oversaw
as vice president). They were also deeply involved in the conspiracies
which grew out of those operations; conspiracies which prevented any
major political future for the Kennedy family, and led directly to Nixon's
resurrection from political obscurity.
purpose of the break-in was never revealed because the Watergate scandal's
investigations were sidetracked, likely on purpose, into a focus on
multiple other high crimes by Nixon. Whatever the purpose of the break-in,
Hughes was right in the middle of the major forces linking the conspiracies
that resulted in the murders and character assassinations of the Kennedy
brothers, and the Watergate scandal that toppled the Nixon administration.
During all of these political intrigues, arguments between Hughes and
his employees continued to threaten military contracts and resulted
in his firing his long-time associate Noah Dietrich in 1957. As a stockholder
in Trans World Airways, Hughes lobbied for the airline's purchase of
sixty-three jets in 1956. He sold his TWA stock in 1966 for $546 million
when the company faced numerous lawsuits. That same year, Hughes moved
to Las Vegas and began doing business there. Las Vegas organized crime
interests were actively transferring casino ownership to frontmen with
less tainted reputations.
Hughes took over Air West in 1970. (He was later indicted in the Air
West takeover, but the case was dismissed.) Hughes was increasingly
reclusive and decreasingly in control of his business dealings. Not
even Nixon could contact him directly. Maheu's power was also declining.
CIA assassination plots had begun to leak to the press, requiring the
government to distance itself from Maheu. Not only did he know too much,
it was one of his associates, attorney Ed Morgan, who had leaked the
story to columnist Jack Anderson. It was now Chester Davis, Raymond
Holliday, and Bill Gay, the Hughes Tool Company executives who ran Hughes
Nevada properties, who were contacted by the CIA when they wanted to
build a CIA ship, the Glomar Explorer, to recover a sunken Soviet submarine.
In 1972, Hughes sold Hughes Tool Company's stock and renamed his company
Summa Corporation, ending any remaining role in his business. His health
deteriorated and his entourage of aids carted him to Panama, Canada,
London and Acapulco. On June 5, 1974, a break-in occurred at Hughes'
Romaine Street headquarters in Los Angeles. The theft of secret documents
sent shockwaves through the U.S. intelligence community.
Death: Hughes died April 5, 1976, en route by private jet to a hospital
in Houston. His drastically changed appearance and the fact that he
had been seen by so few people for so long forced the Treasury Department
to use fingerprints to identify his body. He left an estate estimated
at $2 billion. Four hundred prospective heirs tried to inherit it but
it eventually went to twenty-two cousins on both sides of his family.
Texas, Nevada and California claimed inheritance-tax in disputes reviewed
by the Supreme Court three times. Hughes Aircraft ended up in the hands
of Hughes Medical Institute, which sold it to General Motors in 1985
for $5 billion. Four hotels and six casinos in Las Vegas and Reno remained
with Summa Corporation.
Hughes, Jr. (December 24, 1905 – April 5, 1976) was at times a
pilot, a movie producer, a playboy, an eccentric and one of the wealthiest
people in the world. He is famous for building the Hercules airplane,
commonly known as the Spruce Goose, and for his debilitatingly eccentric
behavior later in life.
Hughes was born in Humble, Texas. His parents were Alene (Gano) Hughes
and Howard R. Hughes, Sr., who invented the dual cone roller bit, which
allowed rotary drilling of oil wells in previously inaccessible places.
His father founded Hughes Tool Company to commercialize this invention.
As a teenager,
Hughes declared that his goals in life were to become the world's best
golfer, the world's best pilot, and the world's best movie producer.
Despite attending many good schools, he never earned a diploma. He attended
the Fessenden School in West Newton, Massachusetts (near Boston), and
the Thacher School in Ojai, California. His father subsequently arranged
for him to audit math and engineering classes at the California Institute
of Technology. He then enrolled at the Rice Institute (later known as
died when he was a teenager — his mother in 1922 due to complications
from a minor surgery, and his father two years later from a heart attack.
As a result, Hughes inherited the highly profitable Hughes Tool Company.
After inheriting $17 million, Hughes dropped out of Rice to become CEO
of Hughes Tool in 1924 at the age of 19.
his father died, Hughes moved to Hollywood, California where he had
an uncle, Rupert Hughes, a novelist. Ella Rice, a girlfriend whom he
had met in Houston, joined him in California. They married in 1925 (and
would divorce in 1929).
his fortune to become a movie producer. He was at first dismissed by
Hollywood insiders as a rich man's son. However, his first two films
released in 1927, Everybody's Acting and Two Arabian Knights were financial
successes. His films The Racket in 1928 and The Front Page in 1931 were
nominated for Academy Awards. Other movies included one of the world's
first multi-million dollar productions Hell's Angels (1930) which was
written and directed by Hughes and showcased his love for aviation,
and Scarface (1932). His best-known film may be The Outlaw (1943) starring
Jane Russell. Both Scarface and The Outlaw received attention from industry
censors, who targeted the films for their disregard of certain moral
standards set forth within the industry.
time, Hughes was a notorious ladies' man, and allegedly had affairs
with many famous women and (reportedly) men, including: Katharine Hepburn,
Bette Davis, Gene Tierney, Jean Harlow, Jane Russell and Ava Gardner.
Less significant affairs are rumored to have occurred between Hughes
and a long list of celebrities: Yvonne De Carlo, Billie Dove, Ginger
Rogers, Olivia de Havilland, Elizabeth Taylor, Kathryn Grayson, Lana
Turner, Rita Hayworth, Carole Lombard, Paulette Goddard, Ida Lupino,
Linda Darnell, Joan Fontaine, Gina Lollobrigida, Marilyn Monroe, Cary
Grant, Errol Flynn, Jayne Mansfield, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Susan Hayward, Shelley
Winters, Mamie Van Doren, Hedy Lamarr, Tyrone Power, Norma Shearer,
Gloria Vanderbilt, Terry Moore, and Marlene Dietrich. 
Hughes was a lifelong aircraft enthusiast, pilot, and self-taught aircraft
engineer. He set many world records, and designed and built several
aircraft himself while heading Hughes Aircraft. The most important aircraft
he designed was the Hughes H-1 Racer. On September 13, 1935, Hughes,
flying the H-1, set the world speed record of 352 miles per hour over
his test course near Santa Ana, California. (The previous record was
314 miles per hour.) A year and a half later (January 19, 1937), flying
a somewhat re-designed H-1 Racer, Hughes set a new trans-continental
speed record by flying non-stop from Los Angeles to New York City in
7 hours, 28 minutes and 25 seconds (beating his own previous record
of 9 hours, 27 minutes). His average speed over the flight was 322 miles
per hour.  (U.S. Centential of Flight Commission web site).
The H-1 Racer
featured a number of design innovations: it had retractable landing
gear, so that in flight the wheels did not cause drag. It had all rivets
and joints set flush into the body of the plane, also to reduce drag.
The H-1 Racer influenced the design of a number of World War II fighter
airplanes such as the Mitsubishi Zero, the Focke-Wulf FW190, and the
F6F Hellcat.  (Wright Tools web site) The H-1 Racer was donated to
the Smithsonian in 1975 and is on display at the National Air and Space
On July 10,
1938 Hughes set another record by completing a flight around the world
in just 91-hours (3 days 9 hours) - beating the old record by more than
four days. For this flight he did not fly a plane of his own design
but a Lockheed 14 (a twin engine plane with a four man crew).
the William P. Hobby Airport in Houston, Texas, known at the time as
Houston Municipal Airport, was re-named "Howard Hughes Airport,"
but the name was changed back after people objected to naming the airport
after a living person.
As an aviator,
he received many awards. This included the Harmon Trophy in 1936 and
1938, the Collier Trophy in 1939, the Octave Chanute Award in 1940,
and a special Congressional medal for his round-the-world flight.
XF-11 prototype (with conventional propellers).
Also in 1938, William John Frye, a former Hollywood stunt flier and
the first director of operations of Transcontinental and Western Air
(T&WA), put in an order for the new 33-passenger Boeing 307 Stratoliner,
the first commercial plane with a pressurized passenger cabin. He convinced
Hughes, also enamored of avant-garde aircraft technology, to finance
this purchase. By doing so, Hughes became the principal stockholder
of T&WA in April 1939. Throughout the 1940s and into the 1950s,
T&WA (which became Trans World Airlines) continued to bet on the
most advanced planes available, largely due to Hughes' own interest
in aircraft development. The airline would grow significantly under
The H-4 Hercules
with Hughes at the controls.
On July 7, 1946, Hughes barely survived a plane crash. He was piloting
the maiden flight of the experimental aircraft XF-11, a U.S. Army spy
plane. His flight plan included a tour of Los Angeles to show off the
new plane, but an oil leak caused one of the counter-rotating propellers
to reverse its thrust, causing the plane to yaw sharply. Hughes tried
to save the craft by landing it on the Los Angeles Country Club golf
course, but seconds before he reached his attempted destination the
plane started dropping dramatically and the aircraft crashed into the
Beverly Hills neighborhood surrounding the country club. When the plane
finally stopped after clipping three houses, the fuel tanks exploded,
setting fire to a home and the surrounding area. Hughes lay wounded
beside the burning airplane until he was rescued by a Marine master
sergeant who was visiting friends next door. The injuries he sustained
in the crash, including a crushed collar bone, six broken ribs and third-degree
burns, affected him the rest of his life. Many attribute his long addiction
to opiates to the large amounts of morphine he was prescribed for the
injuries. The trademark mustache he wore later in life was an attempt
to cover a minor facial scar from the incident.
One of his
greatest endeavors was the H-4 Hercules, nicknamed the "Flying
Lumberyard", and more famously, the Spruce Goose (although its
frame was built predominantly of Birch), a massive flying boat completed
just after the end of World War II. The Hercules only flew once (with
Hughes at the controls) in 1947. The plane was originally commissioned
by the U.S. government for use in World War II, but was not completed
until after the war. Hughes was called to testify before the Senate
War Investigating Committee to explain why the plane had not been delivered
to the United States Air Force during the war, but the committee disbanded
without releasing a final report. Because the U.S. government denied
him the use of aircraft aluminium (which had been rationed), Hughes
built the plane largely from Birch in his Westchester, California facility
to fulfill his contract. The plane was on display alongside RMS Queen
Mary in Long Beach, California for many years before being moved to
McMinnville, Oregon, where it is now part of the Evergreen Aviation
RKO in 1948, a struggling major Hollywood studio. He interfered with
production and even shut down shooting for weeks or months. RKO was
sold in 1955.
war, Hughes fashioned his company Hughes Aircraft into a major defense
contractor. Portions of the company wound up with McDonnell Douglas,
and eventually Boeing when those two companies merged. The remainder
of Hughes Aircraft was sold to Raytheon in 1998.
In 1953, Hughes launched the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Delaware,
formed with the express goal of basic biomedical research including
trying to understand, in Hughes' words, the "genesis of life itself."
It was viewed by many as a tax haven for his wealth: Hughes gave all
his stock of the Hughes Aircraft Company to the institute, thereby turning
the defense contractor into a tax-exempt charity. 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, the balance
of Hughes' estate went to the institute. It is America's second largest
private foundation and the largest devoted to biological and medical
research with a 2004 endowment of $12.4 billion.
Hughes married actress Jean Peters.
Shortly before the 1960 Presidential election, Richard Nixon was harmed
by revelations of a $205,000 loan from Hughes to Nixon's brother that
was never repaid.
and Communications was founded in 1961. In the same year, TWA's management
sued its chairman Hughes because of differences in running the company;
he was forced to sell his stock in TWA in 1966 for more than $500 million.
During the 1970s, Hughes went back into the airline business, buying
airline Air West and renaming it to Hughes Airwest.
In 1972, Hughes was approached by the CIA to help secretly recover a
Soviet submarine which had sunk near Hawaii four years before. He agreed.
Thus the Hughes Glomar Explorer, a special-purpose salvage vessel, 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 the Glomar Explorer attempted to raise the Soviet vessel. But
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. It has been speculated that, contrary to
this official account, the entire submarine was recovered and that the
CIA released disinformation to leave the Soviets with the impression
that the mission was unsuccessful.
known as Project Jennifer, became public in February 1975 because burglars
had obtained secret documents from Hughes' headquarters in June 1974.
By the late 1950s, if not earlier, Hughes developed debilitating symptoms
of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The once dashing figure vanished
from public view and became a mystery. The media followed rumors of
his movements and behavior. According to various rumors, Hughes was
either terminally ill, mentally unstable, or dead and replaced by an
earlier displayed symptoms consistent with OCD: In the 1930s, friends
reported he was obsessed with the size of peas — one of his favorite
foods — and used a special fork to sort them by size before he
ate. When he produced The Outlaw, Hughes became obsessed with a minor
flaw in one of Jane Russell's blouses, and wrote a detailed memorandum
on how to fix the problem: Hughes contended that fabric bunched up on
a seam, giving the distressing appearance (to Hughes, at least) of two
nipples on each of Russell's breasts.
a recluse, living a drug-addled life locked in darkened rooms and was
terrified of germs. Though he kept a barber on-call with a handsome
retainer, Hughes had his hair cut and nails trimmed perhaps once a year.
Several doctors were kept on salary, though Hughes rarely saw them and
refused to follow their advice.
addicted to codeine (injections), valium, and other painkillers, was
extremely frail, stored his urine in jars and wore Kleenex boxes as
shoes (although it has been reported that Hughes did this only once,
as "protection" when a toilet flooded). He insisted on using
paper towels to cover any object before he touched it, to insulate himself
from germs. Hughes had contracted syphilis as a young man, and much
of the strange behavior at the end of his life has been attributed by
modern biographers to the tertiary stage of that disease. His well-documented
aversion to handshaking, for instance, probably began when he contracted
syphilis. The disease first revealed itself in the form of tiny blisters
erupting on his hands. After receiving medical treatment, Hughes was
warned by his doctor not to shake hands for a time. Hughes avoided it
the rest of his life. Syphilis was also responsible for a bizarre episode
in which Hughes burned all his clothes. (In the film, The Aviator, 2005,
it is presented as his response to Katharine Hepburn's leaving him.)
In reality, it was Hughes' overreacting to the syphilis diagnosis by
ordering every piece of clothing and bed linen in his home destroyed.
depicting a late-life Hughes, on the occasion of his death in 1976
entourage, Hughes moved from hotel to hotel, from the Beverly Hills
Hotel to Boston to Las Vegas, where he bought the Desert Inn (because
they threatened to evict him) and several other hotel/casinos (Castaways,
New Frontier, The Landmark Hotel and Casino, Sands and Silver Slipper).
He was known for modernizing Las Vegas by buying much of it from the
Mafia. He bought television stations such as KLAS-TV in Las Vegas so
that there would be something to watch when he was up all night with
business holdings were overseen by a small panel sometimes dubbed "The
Mormon Mafia" due to the many Latter-day Saints in the group. While
running day-to-day business operations, they also took great pains to
follow Hughes' every bizarre whim. For example, Hughes took a liking
to Baskin Robbins' banana-nut ice cream, and his aides were horror-stricken
when they learned that Baskin-Robbins had eliminated the flavor. They
made a special order of 350 gallons — the smallest amount the
company could provide for a special order — and had it shipped
from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. A few days after the order arrived, Hughes
announced he'd tired of banana-nut and only wanted vanilla ice cream.
For years afterwards, Hughes' aides gave free gallons of banana-nut
ice cream to their friends and family.
Hughes wielded enormous political power; he was often able to influence
the outcome of elections and legislation. His influence did have its
limits; he was afraid of the effects of nuclear radiation from the open-air
nuclear weapons tests then conducted in the state, and told his aides
to offer $1 million to presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon
if they'd bring the tests to an end. Hughes' aides never offered the
bribes, but reported to Hughes that Johnson had declined the offer,
and that they were unable to contact Nixon.
As he deteriorated,
Hughes moved to the Bahamas, Vancouver, London, and several other places,
always living in the top floor penthouse with the windows blacked out.
Every time he moved out, the hotel seemed to need to remodel to clean
up after him.
he divorced Jean Peters; they had been living apart for several years.
She agreed to a lifetime alimony payment of $70,000 annually, adjusted
for inflation, and she waived all claims to Hughes' estate. The usually
paranoid Hughes surprised his aides when he did not insist on a confidentiality
agreement from Peters as a condition of the divorce; aides reported
that Peters was one of the few people Hughes never disparaged. Peters
refused to discuss her life with Hughes, and declined several lucrative
offers to do so. She would state only that she had not seen Hughes for
several years before their divorce.
to some speculation on the Watergate affair, the 1972 burglary of Democratic
headquarters had been ordered by President Nixon's aides in order to
recover potentially damaging papers documenting payments from Hughes
to Nixon, and in an effort to link the Democrats to Hughes. Larry O'Brien,
the Democratic National Committee chairman whose office was broken into,
had been a paid lobbyist for Hughes since 1968.
have fascinated the public for years. Time, 1976
In 1972 author
Clifford Irving claimed he had co-written an authorized autobiography
of Hughes, and created a media sensation. Hughes was such a reclusive
figure that he hesitated in condemning Irving, which in the view of
many, lent credibility to Irving's account. Prior to publication, Hughes,
in a rare telephone conference, denounced Irving, exposing the entire
project as an elaborate hoax. Irving later spent fourteen months in
jail after fraudulently receiving a $765,000 advance.
on an aircraft en route from his penthouse in Mexico to Methodist Hospital
in Houston on April 5, 1976, at the age of 70. He was unrecognizable,
and the FBI insisted on fingerprints to identify Hughes' remains. The
autopsy determined kidney failure as the cause of death. His body was
in extremely poor condition; X-rays showed broken off hypodermic needles
in his arms.
is interred in the Glenwood Cemetery in Houston, Texas. Estate
station owner Melvin Dummar claimed that late one evening in December
1968, he'd picked up a solitary Howard Hughes as a hitchhiker lying
by the side of U.S. Highway 95, 150 miles north of Las Vegas, and that
after giving Hughes a ride to the Sands hotel-casino in Las Vegas, Hughes
had later made Dummar 1/16th inheritor of his $2 billion estate. However,
the will presented by Dummar (which would have garnered Dummar $156
million) was rejected by a Nevada court as a forgery two years after
Hughes's death. The 1980 movie Melvin and Howard is based on this event.
forty wills and 400 claimants vied for part of Hughes' estate. The estate
eventually settled with 22 cousins in 1983. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled
that Hughes Aircraft was owned by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute,
who sold it to General Motors in 1985 for $5 billion. Suits brought
by the states of California and Texas claiming they were owed inheritance
tax were both rejected by the court.
Hughes' estate paid an undisclosed amount to actress Terry Moore, who
claimed to have been secretly married to Hughes in 1949 and never divorced;
she went on to write a book about her affair with Hughes, titled The
Beauty and the Billionaire. Since Moore was married to five other men
after 1949, the question of bigamy arises.
Hughes Jr. (1905-1976) was arguably the most secretive and self-destructive
man ever to win fame in Southern California’s two glamour industries
--- movies and aviation. Hughes was certainly an American original,
and to many he represented the ultimate unconventional Californian.
and valleys of his life were startling. As an aviator, he once held
every speed record of consequence and was hailed as the world’s
greatest flyer, "a second Lindbergh." At various points in
his life he owned an international airline, two regional airlines, an
aircraft company, a major motion picture studio, mining properties,
a tool company, gambling casinos and hotels in Las Vegas, a medical
research institute, and a vast amount of real estate; he had built and
flown the world’s largest airplane; he had produced and directed
"Hell's Angels," a Hollywood film classic.
Yet by the
time he died in 1976, under circumstances that can only be described
as bizarre, he had become a mentally ill recluse, wasted in body, incoherent
in thought, alone in the world except for his doctors and bodyguards.
He had squandered millions and brought famous companies to the financial
brink. For much of his life, he seemed larger than life, but his end
could not have been sadder.
born in Houston, Texas, (some historians say Humble, Texas)the son of
a flamboyant oil wildcatter, Howard Hughes Sr. Four years after Hughes
Jr.’s birth, his father patented a rotary drill bit with 166 cutting
edges that penetrated thick rock, revolutionizing oil drilling worldwide.
Hughes Sr. and a partner formed what would become the Hughes Tool Company
and began leasing the rotary bits to drillers for as much as $30,000
per well. They also bought up patents for other rock bits and devised
new drills for the oil industry. The Hughes family was now wealthy.
grew up an indifferent student with a liking for mathematics, flying,
and things mechanical (he once built a motorcycle from parts taken from
his father’s steam engine). He dropped out of Rice Institute in
Houston and, through his father’s influence, audited math and
engineering classes at Caltech in Pasadena, Calif.
father’s death in 1924, the 18-year-old Hughes inherited an estate
valued at almost $900,000, including 75% of Hughes Tool Company, whose
control he assumed a year later. As Otto Friedrich writes in City of
Nets, a book about Hollywood in the1940s: "So it was the Hughes
Tool Company’s control of an indispensable oil drilling bit that
enabled Howard Hughes to imagine himself one of the kings of Hollywood.
No matter what he did, no matter how much money he wasted, the Hughes
drilling bit would always pay his bills, would always protect him from
shy and retiring, Hughes became enamored with the motion picture industry
and moved to Los Angeles in 1925. The city was already the world capital
of film production. Hughes financed three films of varying quality (one
of them won an Academy Award for director Lewis Milestone) before undertaking
an epic movie about Royal Air Force fighter pilots in World War I. The
film was "Hell’s Angels," which Hughes came to direct
as well as produce.
by the cost, he acquired the largest private air force in the world
-– 87 vintage Spads, Fokkers and Sopwith Camels -– for $560,000,
then spent another $400,000 to house and maintain them. He even bought
a dirigible to be burned in the film. Hughes personally directed the
aerial combat scenes over Mines Field (what is now LAX). Three stunt
pilots died in crashes during the filming; Hughes also crashed in his
scout plane and was pulled unconscious from the wreckage, his cheekbone
crushed. With expenses already exceeding $2 million, Hughes was forced
to re-shoot large segments of the film with dialogue to accommodate
the advent of talking pictures. And because the female star, Greta Nissen,
spoke with a thick and inappropriate Norwegian accent, Hughes cast about
for a replacement, finally deciding on a bit actress with platinum blonde
hair named Harlean Carpenter, also known as Jean Harlow, the first Hollywood
cost Hughes $3.8 million, a record for the time. Released in 1930, "Hell’s
Angels" was a runaway success and set box office records, but it
never recovered its costs. ("Hell’s Angels" is now regarded
as a Hollywood classic. Among the other films made by Hughes, two receive
high marks from critics -- "The Front Page" and "Scarface."
His most sensational film, "The Outlaw," starring Jane Russell,
was described as "more to be pitied than censored.") In their
1979 book, Empire: the Life, Legend and Madness of Howard Hughes, Donald
L. Bartlett and James B. Steele summarize the typical Hughes movie as
"rich in entertainment, low on philosophy and message, packed with
sex and action."
Hollywood legend, these were halcyon years for Howard Hughes. As Otto
Friedrich writes in City of Nets: "No photographic record of that
period would be complete without a picture of the tall, scarred and
inarticulate millionaire ambling into some neon-lit nightclub, outfitted
in Hollywood’s black-tie uniform and displaying a beautiful blonde
on his elbow." Hughes kept company with such stars as Ava Gardner,
Katherine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Terry Moore and Lana Turner, who once
described him as "likable enough but not especially stimulating."
(He eventually married, and divorced, actress Jean Peters.)
his Hollywood years, Hughes maintained his passion for flying. Like
the movies, aviation was booming in Southern California, making the
region a center for new technology. Hughes was in the thick of it, but
unlike other aircraft entrepreneurs, he preferred spending his time
in a cockpit rather than a boardroom.
In 1934 he
won his first speed title flying a converted Boeing pursuit plane 185
miles per hour. He and a young Caltech engineer, Dick Palmer, then built
a plane called the H-1 (featuring a unique retractable landing gear)
which Hughes piloted to a new speed record of 352 mph near Santa Ana,
Calif. This was in 1935, the year that Hughes founded Hughes Aircraft
Company as a division within Hughes Tool Company, operating out of a
hangar in Burbank, Calif.
In 1937 he
flew from L.A. to Newark, N. J., in 7 hours and 28 minutes, a new coast-to-coast
record. That same year he won the Harmon International Trophy as the
world’s outstanding aviator and was honored by President Roosevelt
in the White House. The following year, 1938, he set an around-the-world
record of 3 days, 19 hours and 17 minutes; in the process he cut Charles
Lindbergh’s New York-to-Paris record in half. (Radio equipment
developed by Hughes Aircraft engineers for this flight would later serve
as an entry into the electronics field.) Upon his return, Hughes was
given a ticker tape parade down Broadway in New York City. He was at
the height of his popularity.
of World War II were frustrating years for Hughes, who hoped to transform
Hughes Aircraft into a major airplane manufacturer after winning government
contracts for two experimental aircraft. All around him, Southern California
aircraft manufacturers were producing fleets of new planes. As it turned
out, Hughes Aircraft produced armaments, but not a single plane for
the war effort.
was for a photo-reconnaissance plane, a prototype of which (the XF-11)
crashed in Beverly Hills shortly after the war during a test flight
with Hughes at the controls, almost killing him. The other contract
was for a plane with which Hughes is forever linked in the public mind
-- a troop and cargo carrier made of wood and known by various names
(the H-4 Hercules, the Hughes Flying Boat, the "flying lumberyard"),
but most popularly as the "Spruce Goose."
Hughes thought he thought big and he never hesitated to take new directions.
Conceived when German U-boats were ravaging Allied shipping in the Atlantic,
the "Spruce Goose" was built primarily of birch -- not spruce
-– in response to a wartime metal shortage. It had eight engines
and the capacity to carry 700 troops or a load of 60 tons. In terms
of wingspan (320 feet, which is longer than a football field) and weight
(400,000 pounds) it is still the largest plane ever built. The war ended
before it was completed. But it was flown -- once -- in Long Beach Harbor
on Nov. 2, 1947.
at the controls, the Flying Boat achieved a top speed of 80 mph, lifted
70 feet off the water, and flew a mile in less than a minute before
making a perfect landing. The plane was then towed to a Terminal Island
dry-dock, cocooned inside a giant hangar, and never seen again by the
public during Hughes’ lifetime. Hughes’ Summa Corporation
spent close to a million dollars a year for the lease and maintenance.
After his death, the Flying Boat was put on exhibit in Long Beach Harbor
beside the Queen Mary; it has since been moved to McMinnville, Ore.,
for display in an aircraft museum.
as if he was missing the gene for corporate success," write Bartlett
and Steele in their biography of Hughes. In 1948, he bought a controlling
interest in RKO Radio Pictures, which he almost brought to ruin with
his aberrant management style. He did much the same with Trans World
Airlines (TWA), whose controlling interest he bought in 1939. Although
he did much to transform TWA into a major international carrier, his
secretive ways and quixotic decisions nearly plunged the airline into
bankruptcy. In 1966 he was forced to sell his TWA shares after losing
a lawsuit that charged him with illegally using the airline to finance
other investments. The sale netted Hughes over half a billion dollars.
To many, it seemed more like a victory than a defeat.
year, 1966, Hughes moved into the Desert Inn Hotel in Las Vegas, which
he proceeded to buy (rather than be evicted), along with four other
Las Vegas casinos, a radio station, and other Nevada properties. He
hired an ex-FBI agent, Robert Maheu, to protect his privacy and keep
him out of court, even when his own legal interests were at stake. He
had become "the hermit gambling entrepreneur of Las Vegas."
moving to Nevada, while he was living at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Hughes
had exhibited alarming behavior. In 1958, he apparently suffered a second
mental breakdown, the first having occurred in 1944. Of his days at
the Beverly Hills Hotel, Bartlett and Steele write: "Hughes spent
almost all his time sitting naked in [his white leather chair] in the
center of the living room – an area he called the ‘germ
free zone’ – his long legs stretched out on the matching
ottoman facing a movie screen, watching one motion picture after another."
The same pattern was repeated in Las Vegas, made worse by a drug habit
that included both codeine and Valium. (The codeine had first been prescribed
to alleviate pain from injuries incurred in the XF-11 plane crash years
Hughes managed to attend to business and had many periods of lucidity
(he held a telephone conference call with reporters in 1972 to repudiate
a book by Clifford Irving purporting to be Hughes’ taped reminiscences),
his physical health had turned precarious. A doctor who examined him
in 1973 likened his condition to prisoners he had seen in Japanese prison
camps during World War II. That same year, ironically, Hughes was inducted
into the Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio. He was represented by
a member of his 1938 around-the-world flight crew. One of the inductees
defended Hughes, calling him "a modest, retiring, lonely genius,
often misunderstood, sometimes misrepresented and libeled by malicious
associates and greedy little men."
In the final
chapter of his life, Hughes left Las Vegas for the Bahamas where he
stayed until he moved to Mexico, reportedly to have greater access to
during the Hughes autopsy show fragments of hypodermic needles broken
off in his arms.) He died of apparent heart failure on an airplane carrying
him from Acapulco to a hospital in Houston.
was the mystery and power surrounding his life that when he was pronounced
dead on arrival at Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, on April 5,
1976, his fingerprints were lifted by a technician from the Harris County
Medical Examiner’s Office and forwarded to the Federal Bureau
of Investigation in Washington," write Bartlett and Steele. "Secretary
of the Treasury William E. Simon, for federal tax purposes, wanted to
be sure that the dead man was indeed Howard Hughes. After comparing
the fingerprints with those taken from Hughes in 1942, the FBI confirmed
the identity." He had not been seen publicly or photographed for
greatest legacy to Southern California is the family of Hughes companies
founded during his lifetime. These include Hughes Aircraft Co. (1935)
and Hughes Space and Communications Co. (1961), a unit of Hughes Electronics
Corp. Based in Westchester, Calif., Hughes Space and Communications
is the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial satellites,
the designer and builder of the world’s first synchronous communications
satellite, Syncom, and the producer of nearly 40% of the satellites
now in commercial service. Hughes Electronics is owned by General Motors.
Hughes Aircraft merged with Raytheon Company in 1998 and is now called
Raytheon Systems Co. Prior to the merger, Hughes Aircraft was a world
leader in high technology systems for scientific, military and global
All the technological
prowess of these Hughes companies would almost certainly have pleased
their founder, who always had a passion for building things.
? Contributed by Albert Greenstein, 1999
Born in Texas with a silver spoon in his mouth, Howard Hughes spent
his young adulthood as a swaggering movie mogul and daring aviator.
This chronology reveals all the American billionaire’s triumphs
and disasters, then charts his descent into madness, squalor and death.
Howard Robard Hughes Jr is born in Houston, Texas. His mother is Allene
Gano Hughes and his father is Howard Robard Hughes Sr, founder of the
Hughes Tool Company and inventor of the ‘rock eater’, a
drill bit that revolutionised oil drilling and was the source of his
mother disapproves of his making friends because she believes other
people are disease-carriers. If her son sniffles or coughs, she rushes
him to a doctor and lavishes attention and sympathy on him.
One of the US's worst race riots breaks out in Houston, Hughes’
home town, leaving 17 dead. Some believe that this made the future tycoon
29 March: Hughes’ mother dies.
Hughes attends the Thacher School in Ojai, California, 85 miles north
of Los Angeles. He also spends time with his uncle Rupert Hughes, a
screenwriter for Samuel Goldwyn, who inspires his later interest in
film-making. He never graduates from high school, but his father arranges
for him to sit in on classes at Cal Tech by donating money to the university.
Hughes returns to Houston and enrols at the Rice Institute (now Rice
14 January: Hughes’ father dies.
The 19-year-old Hughes, having inherited much of the family estate,
drops out of the Rice Institute.
His uncle Rupert begins to supervise Hughes’ share of the estate
plus his interest in the Hughes Tool Company, a duty that is supposed
to last until the younger Hughes is 21.
result in Hughes instructing company lawyers to buy out his relatives,
all of whom he has alienated.
26 December: A Houston judge and friend of Hughes’ father grant
Hughes legal adulthood, allowing him to take over the tool company.
Hughes writes a will that, among other things, provides for the creation
of an institution to support medical research.
1 June: Hughes marries Houston socialite Ella Rice. They move to Hollywood
so that he can pursue his interest in making films. He keeps Ella isolated
at home for weeks on end.
Noah Dietrich, a former race-car driver turned accountant. Most experts
agree that it is Dietrich who turns Hughes into a billionaire. Says
Robert Maheu, later Hughes’ chief adviser, ‘He was delivering
Howard profits of $50 to $55 million a year. Big bucks in those days.’
Hughes and his team of Noah Dietrich (head of the movie subsidiary of
Hughes Tool Company) and director Lewis Milestone make the silent comedy
Two Arabian Knights.
film star Billie Dove (‘The American Beauty’) and becomes
obsessed with her. She is married to (though separated from) director
Irwin Willat. It is rumoured that Hughes pays Willat a huge sum –
quoted variously as $35,000, $300,000 and $325,000 – in return
for Willat agreeing to a divorce (which is finalised in 1929). Then
Hughes buys out Dove’s contract from First National Studios and
signs her to his own studio, Caddo Pictures, for $50,000 a movie. However,
both films in which she stars for him – The Age of Love and Cock
of the Air – are financial failures, and by the time the second
reaches the screen in 1932, Hughes has lost interest in Dove and they
The film The Racket, produced by Hughes, is nominated for an Oscar.
His marriage failing, Hughes becomes involved with a string of actresses,
which would eventually include Jean Harlow (the star of Hell’s
Angels, see below), Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Ava Gardner, Jane
Greer, Lana Turner, Rita Hayworth and Janet Leigh, among many, many
others. An equal opportunities lover, he was also romantically linked
to Richard Cromwell, Errol Flynn, Cary Grant, Tyrone Power and Randolph
Hughes is divorced from Ella Rice. She returns to Houston.
Two Arabian Knights wins an Oscar for best director of a comedy picture.
Hughes writes and directs Hell’s Angels, which is about World
War I aviators. It is the most expensive movie of its time, costing
$3.8 million, and loses $1.5 million at the box office. Despite the
film’s lack of success, it establishes Hughes as a major Hollywood
Hell’s Angels, Hughes earns his pilot’s licence and develops
a lifelong passion for aviation. One reason for this is the fact that,
as a result of a childhood illness, he suffers badly from tinnitus (ringing
and noises in the ears). It is only in a plane’s cockpit that
the noises cease.
The film The Front Page, produced by Hughes, is nominated for an Oscar.
In a rented corner of a Lockheed Aircraft Corporation hangar in Burbank,
California, Hughes starts the Hughes Aircraft Company, a division of
Hughes Tool Company, to carry out the expensive conversion of a military
plane into a racing aircraft.
The shame of the nation is finally released. Hughes is the uncredited
producer (Howard Hawks, the director of the picture, gets the onscreen
producer credit). It was actually made in 1930, but its release was
delayed due to Hughes' squabbles with industry censors over the film’s
sensationalism and glorification of gangsters. The film’s subtitle
is added to help get over this. The film does badly at the box office
and Hughes finally withdraws it. It is rarely seen in the US until reissued
Hughes lobbies the US Department of Commerce to lower his pilot’s
licence number from 4223 to 80.
Hughes signs on as a co-pilot for American Airways under the name Charles
W Howard. His disguise is quickly discovered and he resigns.
Hughes wins the All-America Air Meet in Miami flying the H-1 Racer,
the world’s most advanced plane, which he has built and test-piloted
himself. Hughes calls it ‘my beautiful little thing’.
13 September: Hughes sets a new speed record of 353 mph with a streamlined
19 January: Hughes sets a new record flying an improved version of the
H-1 (see 1935) from Los Angeles to Newark, New Jersey in 7 hours, 28
minutes, 25 seconds. His average speed is 332 mph.
Hughes buys into Transcontinental & Western Air (later TWA).
10-14 July: With a crew of four, Hughes pilots a Lockheed 14-N Super
Electra – named New York World’s Fair 1939 – on a
round-the-world flight. On the way, he cuts Lindbergh’s New York-to-Paris
record in half, and finishes the entire journey in 3 days, 19 hours,
8 minutes. As a result, Houston’s William P Hobby Airport is renamed
in his honour. (It is later changed back when protests are made about
naming it after someone who is still alive – perhaps a wise move.)
7 August: Hughes is awarded the Congressional Gold Medal ‘...
in recognition of the achievements of Howard Hughes in advancing the
science of aviation and thus bringing great credit to his country throughout
Jack Frye, president of TWA, is bitterly feuding with board members
who are against new plane purchases. At Frye's urging, Hughes quietly
buys up a majority of TWA stock (for less than $7 million) and takes
over the company.
Hughes owns TWA, federal law prohibits him from building his own planes.
Seeking one that can perform better than TWA's current fleet of Boeing
Stratoliners, Hughes approaches Boeing's competitor, Lockheed. He has
already established a good relationship with the manufacturer, since
it had built the plane he used in his record flight around the world
in 1938. Lockheed agrees to Hughes' demand that the 40-passenger airliner
be built in absolute secrecy. The end result is the revolutionary Constellation.
Another of Hughes’ film productions, The Outlaw, is released.
It becomes controversial for its sexually explicit advertising and content,
both featuring the barely covered bosom of its star Jane Russell. During
the production, Hughes was obsessed with a minor flaw in one of Russell's
blouses, and wrote a detailed memorandum on how to fix the problem.
He contended that fabric bunched up two seams, giving the distressing
appearance (to Hughes, at least) of two nipples on each of Russell's
breasts. He designs a complicated cantilevered bra to show them off
to best effect, but unbeknownst to him, she never wears it because it
is so uncomfortable.
July: Industrialist Henry Kaiser approaches Hughes with his idea for
a fleet of flying transports to safely move troops and materiel across
the Atlantic. They form the Hughes Kaiser Corporation and obtain an
$18 million US government contract to construct flying boats.
Hughes flies a Constellation from coast to coast in a record seven hours.
His co-pilot is TWA president Jack Frye.
Hughes meets starlet Jean Peters at a party in Newport Beach, California.
He invites the 19-year-old and her date, war hero/actor Audie Murphy,
to fly with him to Catalina Island aboard his private plane. According
to some accounts, Hughes and Peters immediately embark on an unpublicised
romance and are rumoured to have become engaged before splitting in
the mid-1950s. There are also persistent rumours that Hughes and Peters
had an illegitimate child in 1954.
7 July: Hughes
undertakes the first flight of his XF-11 experimental twin-engined photo-reconnaissance
plane. An oil leak forces one of the counter-rotating propellers to
reverse direction. Hughes tries to save the plane by landing it on the
Los Angeles Country Club golf course, but after clipping three houses
in Beverly Hills, it crashes into a fourth. The fuel tanks explode,
setting fire to the house and surrounding area. Hughes, lying beside
his burning airplane, is rescued by a Marine master sergeant who is
visiting friends next door.
Hughes sustains in the crash, which include a crushed collar bone, six
broken ribs, a collapsed lung, a fractured skull and third-degree burns,
affect him until his death. Many attribute his long addiction to opiates
to the large amounts of morphine he is prescribed now. The trademark
moustache he wears in later life is an attempt to cover a minor facial
scar from the crash.
nine-month convalescence is overseen by Dr Verne R Mason, who becomes
a lifelong friend and with whom Hughes has conversations about medical
research. He later appoints Mason chair of the Hughes Tool Company’s
medical advisory board.
the US Senate War Investigating Committee, Senator Owen Brewster announces
that he is very concerned that the government has given Hughes millions
for the development and production of two aircraft that have never been
delivered. According to Brewster, in 1942 President Franklin D Roosevelt
overruled his military experts in order to hand out the contracts to
Hughes for the F-11 and the H-4 (later known as the ‘Spruce Goose’;
see 1947). Brewster also reveals that Hughes provided ‘softening-up
parties’ for government officials. He paid starlets $200 to attend
these parties, their duties including swimming nude in Hughes' swimming
pool. Julius Krug, the chief of the War Production Board, often attended
the parties, and a congressman who was also a frequent guest says: ‘If
those girls were paid $200, they were greatly underpaid.’
The US Senate War Investigating Committee (SWIC) investigates Hughes’
failure to complete his wartime contracts (see 1946). Among those tarred
by Senator Brewster’s brush is Elliott Roosevelt, the son of the
late president, who, Brewster says, Hughes bribed by supplying him with
girls. The investigation also exposes the expense accounts of Hughes’
press agent, which show that he paid $132 for nylons for Elliott Roosevelt’s
wife, the actress Faye Emerson.
journalists Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson that Brewster is being paid
by Pan American Airways to cause trouble. According to Hughes, Pan Am
is trying to persuade the US government to set up an official worldwide
aviation monopoly under Pan Am’s control. As TWA’s owner,
Hughes poses a serious threat to this plan. He claims that Brewster
approached him and suggested he merge TWA with Pan Am. When he refused,
Brewster began a smear campaign against him.
and Jack Anderson begin their own campaign against Brewster. They report
that Pan Am provided Brewster with free flights to Hobe Sound, Florida,
where he stayed free of charge at the holiday home of Pan Am vice president
are repeated by Hughes when he appears before the SWIC. Brewster denies
the allegations, but they help to divert attention away from the charge
that Hughes wasted millions of government dollars.
To prove that he had indeed produced at least one seaplane, Hughes flies
the giant H-4 – also known as the Hercules and, more familiarly,
as the ‘Spruce Goose’ because it is constructed largely
of wood (birch, however, rather than spruce). Built at his Westchester,
California facility, it remains the biggest aircraft ever built, with
a wingspan of 320 feet (98 metres), eight massive engines and 17ft (5.2m)
propellers, and weighs 300,000 lb (136,080kg). Hughes flies it for about
a mile across the harbour at Long Beach, California, a flight that takes
less than a minute and reaches an altitude of only about 70ft (21.3m).
Although it never flies again, Hughes continues research on it until
1952 and, throughout his life, maintains it at a cost of $1 million
a year. Initially displayed at Long Beach, near the Queen Mary, it is
now at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon. In 1977,
the US Navy seriously considers test flights with the H-4 as part of
research into low-altitude transoceanic flight, but finally decides
never completes its report on the non-delivery of the F-11 and the H-4.
The committee stops meeting and is eventually disbanded.
Hughes purchases 929,000 shares in RKO Studios. He cuts staff from 2,500
to 600. His ‘micro-management’ of the studio and his absurd
behaviour – for instance, he shuts down the operation for weeks
at a time to try to control dust or to redraft his will – will
eventually lead to its downfall (see 1955).
Terry Moore later claims that this is the year in which she is secretly
married to Hughes on a yacht in international waters off Mexico, never
to be divorced.