|Height:||193 cm (6' 4'')|
|Birth Day:||December 24, 1905|
|Death Date:||Apr 5, 1976 (age 70)|
|Birth Place:||Houston, United States|
|#3||Howard R. Hughes Sr.||Father||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#4||Billie Dove||Former partner||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||94||Actor|
|#5||Jean Peters||Former spouse||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||73||Actor|
|#6||Jean Amelia Summerlin||Grandmother||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#7||Allene Stone Gano||Mother||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#8||Ella Botts Rice||Spouse||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#9||Terry Moore||Spouse||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||91||Actor|
|#13||William Beriah Gano||N/A||N/A||N/A|
As per our current Database, Howard Hughes died on Apr 5, 1976 (age 70).
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
|193 cm (6' 4'')||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
He enjoyed building things as a young boy, such as a radio transmitter and motorized bicycle.
Records locate the birthplace of Howard Hughes in San Antonio, Texas. The date remains uncertain because of conflicting dates from various sources. He repeatedly claimed Christmas Eve as his birthday. A 1941 affidavit birth certificate of Hughes, signed by his aunt Annette Gano Lummis and by Estelle Boughton Sharp, states that he was born on December 24, 1905, in Harris County, Texas. However, his certificate of baptism, recorded on October 7, 1906, in the parish register of St. John's Episcopal Church in Keokuk, Iowa, listed his date of birth as September 24, 1905, without any reference to the place of birth.
Howard Robard Hughes Jr. was the son of Allene Stone Gano (1883–1922) and of Howard R. Hughes Sr. (1869–1924), a successful inventor and businessman from Missouri. He had English, Welsh and some French Huguenot ancestry, and was a descendant of John Gano (1727–1804), the minister who allegedly baptized George Washington. His father patented (1909) the two-cone roller bit, which allowed rotary drilling for petroleum in previously inaccessible places. The senior Hughes made the shrewd and lucrative decision to commercialize the invention by leasing the bits instead of selling them, obtained several early patents, and founded the Hughes Tool Company in 1909. Hughes' uncle was the famed novelist, screenwriter, and film-director Rupert Hughes.
At a young age, Hughes showed interest in science and technology. In particular, he had great engineering aptitude and built Houston's first "wireless" radio transmitter at age 11. He went on to be one of the first licensed ham-radio operators in Houston, having the assigned callsign W5CY (originally 5CY). At 12, Hughes was photographed in the local newspaper, identified as the first boy in Houston to have a "motorized" bicycle, which he had built from parts from his father's steam engine. He was an indifferent student, with a liking for mathematics, flying, and mechanics. He took his first flying lesson at 14, and attended Fessenden School in Massachusetts in 1921.
His mother Allene 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 establishment of a medical research laboratory in the will that he signed in 1925 at age 19. Howard Sr.'s will had not been updated since Allene's death, and Hughes inherited 75% of the family fortune. On his 19th birthday, Hughes was declared an emancipated minor, enabling him to take full control of his life.
Hughes withdrew from 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, and great-niece of William Marsh Rice, for whom Rice University was named. They moved to Los Angeles, where he hoped to make a name for himself as a filmmaker.
In 1929, Hughes' wife, Ella, returned to Houston and filed for divorce.
In 1932 Hughes founded the Hughes Aircraft Company, a division of Hughes Tool Company, in a rented corner of a Lockheed Aircraft Corporation hangar in Burbank, California, to build the H-1 racer.
In 1933, Hughes made a purchase of an unseen luxury steam yacht named the Rover, which was previously owned by British shipping magnate Lord Inchcape. "I have never seen the Rover but bought it on the blueprints, 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. After the crash, Hughes was taken to the hospital and certified as sober, but an attending doctor made a note that Hughes had been drinking. A witness to the crash 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 S. 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' car. Nancy Bayly (Watts), who was in the car with Hughes at the time of the crash, corroborated this version of the story. 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 July 14, 1938, Hughes set another record by completing a flight around the world in just 91 hours (three days, 19 hours, 17 minutes), beating the previous record set in 1933 by Wiley Post in a single-engine Lockheed Vega by almost four days. Hughes returned home ahead of photographs of his flight. Taking off from New York City, Hughes continued to Paris, Moscow, Omsk, Yakutsk, Fairbanks, and Minneapolis, then returning to New York City. For this flight he flew a Lockheed 14 Super Electra (NX18973, a twin-engine transport with a four-man crew) fitted with the latest radio- and navigational-equipment. Harry Connor was the co-pilot, Thomas Thurlow the navigator, Richard Stoddart the engineer, and Ed Lund the mechanic. Hughes wanted the flight to be a triumph of American aviation technology, illustrating that safe, long-distance air travel was possible. Albert Lodwick of Mystic, Iowa provided organizational skills as the flight operations manager. While Hughes had previously been relatively obscure despite his wealth, being better known for dating Katharine Hepburn, New York City now gave him a ticker-tape parade in the Canyon of Heroes.. Hughes and his crew were awarded the 1938 Collier Trophy for flying around the world in record time. He was awarded the Harmon Trophy in 1936and 1938 for the record breaking global circumnavigation.
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 also had a role in the design and financing of both the Boeing 307 Stratoliner and Lockheed L-049 Constellation.
Other aviator awards include: 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".
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 in 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 two prototypes were completed; the second one with a single propeller per side.
In 1939, at the urging of Jack Frye, president of Transcontinental & Western Airlines, the predecessor of Trans World Airlines (TWA), Hughes began to quietly purchase a majority share of TWA stock; he took a controlling interest in the airline by 1944. Although he never had an official position with TWA, Hughes handpicked the board of directors, which included Noah Dietrich, and often issued orders directly to airline staff. Hughes Tool Co. purchased the first 6 Stratoliners Boeing manufactured. Hughes used one personally, and the other 5 he let TWA operate.
Hughes is commonly credited as the driving force behind the Lockheed Constellation airliner, which Hughes and Frye ordered in 1939 as a long-range replacement for TWA's fleet of Boeing 307 Stratoliners. Hughes personally financed TWA's acquisition of 40 Constellations for $18 million, the largest aircraft-order in history up to that time. The Constellations were among the highest-performing commercial aircraft of the late 1940s and 1950s, and allowed TWA to pioneer nonstop transcontinental service. During World War II Hughes leveraged political connections in Washington to obtain rights for TWA to serve Europe, making it the only U.S. carrier with a combination of domestic and transatlantic routes.
The Outlaw premiered in 1943, but was not released nationally until 1946. The film featured Jane Russell, who received considerable attention from industry censors, this time owing to her revealing costumes.
Another portion of Hughes' commercial interests involved aviation, airlines, and the aerospace and defense industries. A lifelong aircraft enthusiast and pilot, Hughes survived four airplane accidents: one in a Thomas-Morse Scout while filming Hell's Angels, one while setting the airspeed record in the Hughes Racer, one at Lake Mead in 1943, and the near fatal crash of the Hughes XF-11 in 1946. At Rogers Airport in Los Angeles he learned to fly from pioneer aviators, including Moye Stephens and J.B. Alexander. He set many world records and commissioned the construction of custom aircraft for himself while heading Hughes Aircraft at the airport in Glendale, CA. 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 reaching 362 mph in 1929 and George Stainforth reached 407.5 mph in 1931, both in seaplanes). This marked the last time in history that an aircraft built by a private individual set the world airspeed record. 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 seven hours, 28 minutes, and 25 seconds (beating his own previous record of nine hours, 27 minutes). His average ground-speed over the flight was 322 mph (518 km/h).
In the spring of 1943 Hughes spent nearly a month in Las Vegas, test-flying his Sikorsky S-43 amphibian aircraft, practising 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 into Lake Mead, 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 it. Hughes sent the plane to Houston, where it remained for many years.
Hughes was involved in another 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 attempted to save the aircraft 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.
The Hercules flew only once for one mile (1.6 km), and 70 feet (21 m) above the water, with Hughes at the controls, on November 2, 1947.
Critics nicknamed the Hercules the Spruce Goose, but it was actually made largely from birch (not spruce) rather than from aluminum, because the contract required that Hughes build the aircraft of "non-strategic materials". It was built in Hughes' Westchester, California, facility. In 1947, Howard Hughes was summoned to testify before the Senate War Investigating Committee to explain why the H-4 development had been so troubled, and why $22 million had produced only two prototypes of the XF-11. General Elliott Roosevelt and numerous other USAAF officers were also called to testify in hearings that transfixed the nation during August and November 1947. In hotly-disputed testimony over TWA's route awards and malfeasance in the defense-acquisition process, Hughes turned the tables on his main interlocutor, Maine Senator Owen Brewster, and the hearings were widely interpreted as a Hughes victory. After being displayed at the harbor of Long Beach, California, the Hercules was moved to McMinnville, Oregon, where as of 2020 it features at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum.
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. Hughes Aircraft became a major American aerospace- and defense-contractor, manufacturing numerous technology-related products that included 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 gained control of RKO, a struggling major Hollywood studio, by acquiring the 929,000 shares owned by Floyd Odlum's Atlas Corporation, for $8,825,000. Within weeks of acquiring the studio, Hughes dismissed 700 employees. Production dwindled to 9 pictures during the first year of Hughes' control; previously RKO had averaged 30 per year.
In 1948 Hughes created a new division of Hughes Aircraft: 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, which focused on advanced developments in microelectronics, information & systems sciences, materials, sensors, and photonics; their work-space 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.
Production shut down for six months, during which time investigations were conducted of each employee who remained with RKO as far as their political leanings were concerned. Only after ensuring that the stars under contract to RKO had no suspect affiliations would Hughes approve completed pictures to be sent back for re-shooting. This was especially true of the women under contract to RKO at that time. If Hughes felt that his stars did not properly represent the political views of his liking or if a film's anti-communist politics were not sufficiently clear, he pulled the plug. In 1952, an abortive sale to a Chicago-based group connected to the mafia with no experience in the industry disrupted studio operations at RKO even further.
In 1953, Hughes became involved with a high-profile lawsuit as part of the settlement of the United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. Antitrust Case. As a result of the hearings, the shaky status of RKO became increasingly apparent. A steady stream of lawsuits from RKO's minority shareholders had grown to become extremely annoying to Hughes. They had accused him of financial misconduct and corporate mismanagement. Since Hughes wanted to focus primarily on his aircraft manufacturing and TWA holdings during the years of the Korean War of 1950 to 1953, Hughes offered to buy out all other stockholders in order to dispense with their distractions.
In 1953, Hughes launched the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Miami, Florida (currently located in Chevy Chase, Maryland) with the expressed 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.
After the announcement of the Boeing 707, Hughes opted to pursue a more advanced jet aircraft for TWA and approached Convair in late 1954. Convair proposed two concepts to Hughes, but Hughes was unable to decide which concept to adopt, and Convair eventually abandoned its initial jet project after the mockups of the 707 and Douglas DC-8 were unveiled. Even after competitors such as United Airlines, American Airlines and Pan American World Airways had placed large orders for the 707, Hughes only placed eight orders for 707s through the Hughes Tool Company and forbade TWA from using the aircraft. After finally beginning to reserve 707 orders in 1956, Hughes embarked on a plan to build his own "superior" jet aircraft for TWA, applied for CAB permission to sell Hughes aircraft to TWA, and began negotiations with the state of Florida to build a manufacturing plant there. However, he abandoned this plan around 1958, and in the interim, negotiated new contracts for 707 and Convair 880 aircraft and engines totaling $400 million.
In 1954, Hughes transferred Hughes Aircraft to the foundation, which paid Hughes Tool Co. $18,000,000 for the assets. The foundation leased the land from Hughes Tool Co., which then subleased it to Hughes Aircraft Corp. The difference in rent, $2,000,000 per year, became the foundation's working capital.
Hughes had made numerous business partnerships through industrialist and producer, David Charnay. Their friendship and many partnerships began with the film The Conqueror, which was first released to the public in 1956. The film caused many controversies due to its critical flop and radioactive location used in St. George, Utah that eventually led to Hughes buying up nearly every copy of the film he could, only to watch the film at home repeatedly for many nights in a row.
The financing of TWA's jet orders precipitated the end of Hughes' relationship with Noah Dietrich, and ultimately Hughes's ouster from control of TWA. Hughes did not have enough cash on hand or future cash flow to pay for the orders, and did not immediately seek bank financing. Hughes's refusal to heed Dietrich's financing advice led to a major rift between the two by the end of 1956. Hughes believed that Dietrich wished to have Hughes committed as mentally incompetent, although the evidence of this is inconclusive. Dietrich resigned by telephone in May 1957 after repeated requests for stock options, which Hughes refused to grant, and with no further progress on the jet financing. As Hughes's mental state worsened, he ordered various tactics to delay payments to Boeing and Convair; his behavior led TWA's banks to insist that he be removed from management as a condition for further financing.
On January 12, 1957, Hughes married actress Jean Peters at a small hotel in Tonopah, Nevada. 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.
In 1958, Hughes 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, and 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 neither 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 summer of 1958, his hygiene was terrible. He had neither bathed nor cut his hair and nails for weeks; this may have been due to allodynia, which results in a pain response to stimuli that would normally not cause pain.
In 1960, Hughes was ultimately forced out of management of TWA, although he continued to own 78% of the company. In 1961, TWA filed suit against Hughes Tool Company, claiming that the latter had violated antitrust law by using TWA as a captive market for aircraft trading. The claim was largely dependent upon obtaining testimony from Hughes himself. Hughes went into hiding and refused to testify. A default judgment was issued against Hughes Tool Company for $135 million in 1963, but was overturned by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1973, on the basis that Hughes was immune from prosecution. In 1966, Hughes was forced to sell his TWA shares. The sale of his TWA shares brought Hughes $546,549,771.
Hughes acquired control of Boston-based Northeast Airlines in 1962. However, the airline's lucrative route authority between major northeastern cities and Miami was terminated by a CAB decision around the time of the acquisition, and Hughes sold control of the company to a trustee in 1964. Northeast went on to merge with Delta Air Lines in 1972.
On November 24, 1966 (Thanksgiving Day), Hughes arrived in Las Vegas by railroad car and moved into the Desert Inn. Because he refused to leave the hotel and to avoid further conflicts with the owners, Hughes bought the Desert Inn in early 1967. The hotel's eighth floor became the nerve center of Hughes' empire and the ninth-floor penthouse became his personal residence. Between 1966 and 1968, he bought several other hotel-casinos, including the Castaways, New Frontier, the Landmark Hotel and Casino, and the Sands. He bought the small Silver Slipper casino for the sole purpose of moving its trademark neon silver slipper; visible from Hughes' bedroom, as it had apparently kept him awake at night.
A further $156 million was endowed to a gas-station owner, Melvin Dummar, who told reporters that in 1967, he found a disheveled and dirty man lying along U.S. Route 95, just 150 miles (240 km) north of Las Vegas. The man asked for a ride to Vegas. Dropping him off at the Sands Hotel, Dummar said the man told him that he was Hughes. Dummar later 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 1978, a Nevada court ruled the Mormon Will a forgery, and officially declared that Hughes had died intestate (without a valid will). Dummar's story was later adapted into Jonathan Demme's film Melvin and Howard in 1980.
According to Noah Dietrich, "Land became a principal asset for the Hughes empire". Hughes acquired 1200 acres in Culver City for Hughes Aircraft, bought 7 sections [4,480 acres] in Tucson for his Falcon missile-plant, and purchased 25,000 acres near Las Vegas. In 1968, the Hughes Tool Company purchased the North Las Vegas Air Terminal.
In 1970, Hughes acquired San Francisco-based Air West and renamed it Hughes Airwest. Air West had been formed in 1968 by the merger of Bonanza Air Lines, Pacific Air Lines, and West Coast Airlines, all of which operated in the western U.S. By the late 1970s, Hughes Airwest operated an all-jet fleet of Boeing 727-200, Douglas DC-9-10, and McDonnell Douglas DC-9-30 jetliners serving an extensive route network in the western U.S. with flights to Mexico and western Canada as well. By 1980, the airline's route system reached as far east as Houston (Hobby Airport) and Milwaukee with a total of 42 destinations being served. Hughes Airwest was then acquired by and merged into Republic Airlines (1979–1986) in late 1980. Republic was subsequently acquired by and merged into Northwest Airlines which in turn was ultimately merged into Delta Air Lines in 2008.
In 1970, Jean Peters filed for divorce. The two had not lived together for many years. Peters requested a lifetime alimony payment of $70,000 a year, adjusted for inflation, and waived all claims to Hughes' estate. Hughes offered her a settlement of over a million dollars, but she declined it. Hughes did not insist on a confidentiality agreement from Peters as a condition of the divorce. Aides reported that Hughes never spoke ill of her. She refused to discuss her life with Hughes and declined several lucrative offers from publishers and biographers. Peters would state only that she had not seen Hughes for several years before their divorce and had dealt with him only by phone.
Hughes dated many famous women, including Billie Dove, Faith Domergue, Bette Davis, Ava Gardner, Olivia de Havilland, Katharine Hepburn, Hedy Lamarr, Ginger Rogers, Janet Leigh, Rita Hayworth, Mamie Van Doren and Gene Tierney. 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 disliked Harlow personally. 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 late 1971, Donald Nixon was collecting intelligence for his brother in preparation for the upcoming presidential election. One of his sources was John H. Meier, a former business adviser of Hughes who had also worked with Democratic National Committee Chairman Larry O'Brien.
Hughes enjoyed a highly successful business career beyond engineering, aviation, and filmmaking; 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 served as the principal holding company for Hughes' business ventures and investments. Though primarily involved in the aerospace and defense, electronics, mass-media, manufacturing, and hospitality industries, it has also maintained a strong presence in a wide variety of industries including real estate, petroleum-drilling and oilfield services, consulting, entertainment, and engineering. Much of Hughes' fortune later went to philanthropic causes, notably supporting health-care and medical research.
Originally known as Summa Corporation, the Howard Hughes Corporation formed in 1972 when the oil-tools business of Hughes Tool Company, then owned by Howard Hughes Jr., 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). In 1988 Summa announced plans for Summerlin, a master-planned community named for the paternal grandmother of Howard Hughes, Jean Amelia Summerlin.
In 1972, during the cold war era, Hughes was approached by the CIA through his longtime partner, David Charnay, to help secretly recover the Soviet submarine K-129, which had sunk near Hawaii four years earlier. Hughes' involvement provided the CIA with a plausible cover story, conducting expensive civilian marine research at extreme depths and the mining of undersea manganese nodules. The recovery plan used the special-purpose salvage vessel Glomar Explorer. 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 after secret documents were released, obtained by burglars of Hughes' headquarters in June 1974. Although he lent his name and his company's resources to the operation, Hughes and his companies had no operational involvement in the project. The Glomar Explorer was eventually acquired by Transocean and was sent to the scrap yard in 2015 during a large decline in oil prices.
Shortly before the 1960 Presidential election, Richard Nixon was alarmed 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.
Hughes was living in the Intercontinental Hotel near Lake Managua in Nicaragua, seeking privacy and security, when a magnitude 6.5 earthquake damaged Managua in December 1972. As a precaution, Hughes moved first to a rather large tent, facing the hotel, then after a few days there to the Nicaraguan National Palace and stayed there as a guest of Anastasio Somoza Debayle before leaving for Florida on a private jet the following day. He subsequently moved into the Penthouse at the Xanadu Princess Resort on Grand Bahama Island, which he had recently purchased. He lived almost exclusively in the penthouse of the Xanadu Beach Resort & Marina for the last four years of his life.
In 1972, author Clifford Irving caused a media sensation when he claimed he had co-written an authorized autobiography of Hughes. Hughes was so reclusive that he did not immediately publicly refute Irving's statement, leading many to believe the Irving book was genuine. However, before the book's publication, Hughes finally denounced Irving in a teleconference and the entire project was eventually exposed as a hoax. Irving was later convicted of fraud and spent 17 months in prison. In 1974, the Orson Welles film F for Fake included a section on the Hughes biography hoax, leaving a question open as to whether it was actually Hughes who took part in the teleconference (since so few people had actually heard or seen him in recent years). In 1977, The Hoax by Clifford Irving was published in the United Kingdom, telling his story of these events. The 2006 film The Hoax, starring Richard Gere, is also based on these events.
Hughes and Charnay's most published dealings were with a contested AirWest leveraged buyout (LBO). Charnay led the LBO buyout group that involved Howard Hughes and their partners acquiring Air West. Hughes, Charnay, as well as three others were indicted. The complexity of this LBO was the first of its kind. The indictment, made by U.S. Attorney DeVoe Heaton, accused the group of conspiring to drive down the stock price of Air West in order to pressure company directors to sell to Hughes. The charges were dismissed after a judge had determined that the indictment had failed to allege an illegal action on the part of Hughes, Charnay, and all the other accused in the indictment. Thompson, the federal judge that made the decision to dismiss the charges called the indictment one of the worst claims that he had ever seen. The charges were filed again, a second time, by U.S. Attorney DeVoe Heaton's assistant, Dean Vernon. The Federal Judge ruled on November 13, 1974 and elaborated to say that the case suggested a "reprehensible misuse of the power of great wealth", but in his judicial opinion, "no crime had been committed." The aftermath of the Air West deal was later settled with the SEC by paying former stockholders for alleged losses from the sale of their investment in Air West stock. As noted above, Air West was subsequently renamed Hughes Airwest. During a long pause between the years of the dismissed charges against Hughes, Charnay, and their partners, Howard Hughes mysteriously died mid-flight while on the way to Houston from Acapulco. No further attempts were made to file any indictments after Hughes died.
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 fourth largest private organization as of 2007 and one of the largest devoted to biological and medical research, with an endowment of $20.4 billion as of June 2018.
Hughes is reported to have died on April 5, 1976, at 1:27 p.m. on board an aircraft, Learjet 24B N855W, owned by Robert Graf and piloted by Jeff Abrams. He was en route from his penthouse at the Acapulco Fairmont Princess Hotel in Mexico to the Methodist Hospital in Houston.
Another time, he became obsessed with the 1968 film Ice Station Zebra, and had it run on a continuous loop in his home. According to his aides, he watched it 150 times. Feeling guilty about the commercial, critical, and literal toxicity of his film The Conqueror, he bought every copy of the film for $12 million, watching the film on repeat. Paramount Pictures acquired the rights of the film in 1979, 3 years after his death.
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. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that Hughes Aircraft was owned by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which sold it to General Motors in 1985 for $5.2 billion. The court rejected suits by the states of California and Texas that claimed they were owed inheritance tax.
In 1984, Hughes' estate paid an undisclosed amount to Terry Moore, who claimed she and Hughes had secretly married on a yacht in international waters off Mexico in 1949 and never divorced. Moore never produced proof of a marriage, but her book, The Beauty and the Billionaire, became a bestseller.
Hughes' considerable business holdings were overseen by a small panel unofficially dubbed "The Mormon Mafia" because of the many Latter-day Saints on the committee, led by Frank William Gay. In addition to supervising day-to-day business operations and Hughes' health, they also went to great pains to satisfy Hughes' every whim. For example, Hughes once became fond of Baskin-Robbins' banana nut ice cream, so his aides sought to secure a bulk shipment for him, only to discover that Baskin-Robbins had discontinued the flavor. They put in a request for the smallest amount the company could provide for a special order, 350 gallons (1,300 L), and had it shipped from Los Angeles. A few days after the order arrived, Hughes announced he was tired of banana nut and wanted only French vanilla ice cream. The Desert Inn ended up distributing free banana nut ice cream to casino customers for a year. In a 1996 interview, ex–Howard Hughes Chief of Nevada Operations Robert Maheu said, "There is a rumor that there is still some banana nut ice cream left in the freezer. It is most likely true."
On November 4, 2017, the 70th anniversary of the only flight of the H-4 Hercules was celebrated at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum with Hughes' paternal cousin Michael Wesley Summerlin and Brian Palmer Evans, son of Hughes radio-technology pioneer Dave Evans, taking their positions in the recreation of a photo that was previously taken of Hughes, Dave Evans and Joe Petrali on board the H-4 Hercules.
Currently, Howard Hughes is 117 years, 1 months and 8 days old. Howard Hughes will celebrate 118th birthday on a Sunday 24th of December 2023.
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