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Howard Hughes

Howard Hughes

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Also Known As: Howard Robard Hughes Jr. Died: April 5, 1976
Born: December 24, 1905 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Houston, Texas, USA Profession: producer, director, aviator, industrialist, inventor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

in the crash, Hughes grew a mustache, which would become another of his trademarks.In 1948, Hughes obtained a controlling interest in RKO Radio Pictures. Setting himself up in an office above the Pantages Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, he immediately fired the majority of his new employees while many more studio staffers quit out of frustration with his obsessive-compulsive personality and his investigations into their political affiliations. Apolitical but doggedly anti-Communist, Hughes shut down production at RKO for six months in 1949 to undertake his own investigation of un-American activities within the studio, winning praise from California junior senator Richard M. Nixon. On a purely creative front, his control of RKO was characteristically eccentric and counter-intuitive. By the time Hughes gained total control of RKO, the studio was $40,000,000 in debt. He later sold his interest to the General Tire and Rubber Tire Corporation, earning an undisclosed multi-million dollar profit.No less notorious than his business dealings were Hughesâ¿¿ romantic/sexual dalliances with Hollywood actresses. Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Ginger Rogers and Katharine Hepburn were all at one time linked to...

in the crash, Hughes grew a mustache, which would become another of his trademarks.

In 1948, Hughes obtained a controlling interest in RKO Radio Pictures. Setting himself up in an office above the Pantages Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, he immediately fired the majority of his new employees while many more studio staffers quit out of frustration with his obsessive-compulsive personality and his investigations into their political affiliations. Apolitical but doggedly anti-Communist, Hughes shut down production at RKO for six months in 1949 to undertake his own investigation of un-American activities within the studio, winning praise from California junior senator Richard M. Nixon. On a purely creative front, his control of RKO was characteristically eccentric and counter-intuitive. By the time Hughes gained total control of RKO, the studio was $40,000,000 in debt. He later sold his interest to the General Tire and Rubber Tire Corporation, earning an undisclosed multi-million dollar profit.

No less notorious than his business dealings were Hughesâ¿¿ romantic/sexual dalliances with Hollywood actresses. Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Ginger Rogers and Katharine Hepburn were all at one time linked to Hughes in the 30 years between his two marriages. Ava Gardner weathered a tempestuous liaison with Hughes, whom she reportedly clocked with a marble ashtray in Louis B. Mayerâ¿¿s office at MGM. Joan Fontaine claimed in her memoirs that Hughes proposed to her on several occasions, while Jane Russell averred that, though the self-made man had made an awkward pass at her during filming of "The Outlaw," they were able to maintain a successful working and platonic relationship. In 1957, Hughes married Jean Peters, a union that ended in divorce in 1971. Former Hollywood starlet Terry Moore also alleged that she had been secretly married to Hughes in 1949, a union that was never dissolved, and which resulted in an undisclosed financial settlement to Moore from the Hughes estate in 1984.

His tenure in Hollywood at an end, Hughes withdrew into seclusion, plagued increasingly by crippling phobias, mood swings and a reliance on codeine and other painkillers, due to injuries suffered in plane crashes. In 1960, he was forced out of his controlling position at TWA. That same year, Richard Nixon⿿s unsuccessful bid for the presidency was tainted by the revelation that he had accepted a hefty loan from Hughes. So removed from the public eye was Hughes that rumors circulated that he was both terminally ill and actually dead. In 1966, he moved into the Desert Inn in Las Vegas, NV, purchasing the hotel the next year and occupying its penthouse. In 1972, a highly-publicized Hughes memoir was denounced as fraudulent before the book went to press. Howard Hughes died on April 5, 1976, of kidney failure aboard a plane bound for Houston. At the time of his death, Hughes was 70 years old and weighed only 90 pounds. Even before his death, Hughes was a compelling figure in American popular culture. Tony Stark, industrialist alter ego of the Marvel Comics superhero Spider-Man, was based on Hughes, as was the character of Willard Whyte in the James Bond film "Diamonds Are Forever" (1971). For the small screen, Hughes appeared as a character in such fact-based telefilms as "The Amazing Howard Hughes" (1977) and "Hughes and Harlow: Angles in Hell" (1978). Actor Jason Robards earned an Academy Award nomination for playing a decrepit Hughes in Jonathan Demme⿿s "Melvin and Howard" (1980) while Dean Stockwell popped up in a cameo as Hughes in Francis Ford Coppola⿿s "Tucker: A Man and His Dream" (1988). In Martin Scorsese⿿s "The Aviator" (2004), Leonardo DiCaprio appeared as Hughes from his early years through to the failure of the Spruce Goose, while Milton Buras played the aged Hughes in Lasse Hallström⿿s "The Hoax" (2006), a chronicle of the 1972 Hughes memoir scandal and criminal trial.

By Richard Harland SmithLos Angeles, Hughes shifted cast and crew north to Oakland.

Hughesâ¿¿ obsessive devotion to his work destroyed his first marriage while industry gossip about the filmâ¿¿s exorbitant $3.8 million budget left him branded a neophyte who was in over his head. Hughes met the gossip head-on, staging an exorbitant premiere at Graumanâ¿¿s Chinese Theatre, which he buzzed with airplanes while stuntmen parachuted onto Hollywood Boulevard. Though critics found fault with Hughesâ¿¿ handling of his actors â¿¿ one of which, newcomer Jean Harlow, became an overnight star after her appearance in the film â¿¿ all agreed that his staging of the flight sequences was stunning. "Hellâ¿¿s Angels" was a success â¿¿ though not enough for Hughes to recoup the whole of his investment. At the age of 26, Hughes had established himself in Hollywood as a producer-director to be reckoned with. Socially awkward, he proved a shrewd businessman whose penchant for privacy afforded him an aura of mystery. Though several of the subsequent films Hughes produced were forgettable programmers, Hughes scored with "The Front Page" (1931), an adaptation of the successful stage play directed by Lewis Milestone, and "Scarface" (1932), the prototypal rise-and-fall saga of a Chicago gangster modeled on Al Capone. Directed by Howard Hawks, "Scarface" sparked considerable controversy at the time of its premiere for its unblinking depiction of gangland violence.

The owner of a small fleet of airplanes, Hughesâ¿¿ passion for aviation was at the back of his boldest business decision yet. Dropping further plans to produce films in Hollywood, he quit the industry and affected an alias to obtain a job as a junior pilot with American Airlines. As Charles Howard, Hughes flew just one cross-country flight between Los Angeles and New York City before his identity was discovered and he was obliged to resign. Using his experience as a commercial pilot to further his experiments in aviation, Hughes founded Hughes Aircraft and set himself to the task of breaking several aerial speed records. In 1938, he circumnavigated the globe in 91 hours, earning himself a Congressional Medal. The following year, Hughes purchased stock in Trans World Airlines, eventually obtaining a controlling interest in TWA in 1941.

When Hughes returned to Hollywood, he had been gone for nearly a decade. His first project after his return, "The Outlaw" (1943), remained Hughesâ¿¿ most notorious film, less on its own merits as a piece of cinematic drama than for his use of buxom newcomer Jane Russell in a prominent role. Hughes directed the film with an uncredited assist from Howard Hawks and heralded the result with billboards boasting the arresting image of the ample-chested Russell reclining seductively against a mound of hay, grasping a six shooter whose phallic barrel pointed between her legs. Undaunted by the Hollywood Production Code, Hughes sought to emphasize Russellâ¿¿s bust by designing a custom-made underwire brassiere â¿¿ though Russell later claimed she never wore it. Again, Hughes encountered resistance from censors and "The Outlaw" was not widely seen until 1946, by which time the aggregate controversy resulted in an estimable box office hit. During this time, Hughes also designed a massive cargo plane for the U.S. military. Constructed entirely of wood, the Hughes H-4 Hercules was derisively nicknamed the Spruce Goose and did not undertake its maiden flight until 1947, long after the end of World War II. Though the craft was tested successfully, the Spruce Goose was remaindered to a private, climate-controlled hangar, where it was maintained for decades by steadily decreasing crew until it was sold first to the California Aero Club and later to the Walt Disney Company before being awarded to an aviation museum in Oregon. Meanwhile, Hughes, who was still experimenting with experimental aircraft, crashed a United States Air Force reconnaissance plane into a private residence in Beverly Hills, adjacent to the Los Angeles Country Club. To conceal scars sustained

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Vendetta (1950) Pick-up dir
2.
  The Outlaw (1943) Director
3.
  Hell's Angels (1930) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 F for Fake (1973)
2.
 Pardon My Stripes (1942) College boy
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Assumed management of Hughes Tool Company at age 18
1926:
Began investing in Hollywood films aged 20
1926:
Debut as producer with "Everybody's Acting"
1930:
Debut as producer-director with "Hell's Angels"
1932:
Left Hollywood, became co-pilot under assumed name
1935:
Designed aircraft, broke world speed record
1937:
Broke transcontinental speed record
1938:
Flew around world in 91 hours, broke record time
1946:
Injured while flying plane he designed
1947:
Last formal public appearance
1948:
Took over RKO studio and theater chain
1966:
Sold TWA holdings
1966:
Became recluse; maintained control over $2.5 billion empire
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Education

Rice Institute: Houston , Texas -
California Institute of Technology: Pasadena , California -

Notes

Awarded the Congressional Medal Awarded by Washington upon return from record breaking flight around the world.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Katharine Hepburn. Actor.
companion:
Norma Shearer. Actor.
wife:
Terry Moore. Actor. Moore claimed she and Hughes were secretly married and went to court to have herself declared his legal widow; in 2000, Moore made the claim that she never obtained a legal divorce from Hughes and that they therefor committed bigamy in their subsequent remarriages.
wife:
Jean Peters. Actor. Married in 1957; divorced in 1971; last saw him in 1966.
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Family close complete family listing

father:
Howard Hughes Sr. Entrepreneur. Died in January 1924.
uncle:
Rupert Hughes. Novelist, screenwriter.

Bibliography close complete biography

"Empire: The Life, Legend and Madness of Howard Hughes"
"The Beauty and the Billionaire"
"Citizen Hughes"
"Next to Hughes: The Last Years of Howard Hughes's Strange and Tragic Life Chronicled by His Closest Advisor" HarperTrade
"Howard Hughes: The Secret Life"
"Howard Hughes: The Untold Story"
"The Passions of Howard Hughes"
"The Money: The Battle for Howard Hughes's Billions" Random House
"Howard Hughes and His Flying Boat" Charles A. Barton Inc.
"Hughes: The Private Diaries, Memos and Letters" New Millennium Entertainment
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