126 Facts About Howard Hughes


Howard Hughes first became prominent as a film producer, and then as an important figure in the aviation industry.


Howard Hughes later acquired the RKO Pictures film studio in 1948, recognized then as one of the Big Five studios of Hollywood's Golden Age, although the production company struggled under his control and ultimately ceased operations in 1957.


Howard Hughes spent the rest of the 1930s and much of the 1940s setting multiple world air speed records and building the Hughes H-1 Racer and H-4 Hercules, the latter being the largest flying boat in history and having the longest wingspan of any aircraft from the time it was built until 2019.


Howard Hughes acquired and expanded Trans World Airlines and later acquired Air West, renaming it Hughes Airwest.


Howard Hughes won the Harmon Trophy on two occasions, the Collier Trophy, and the Congressional Gold Medal all for his achievements in aviation throughout the 1930s.


Howard Hughes was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1973 and was included in Flying magazine's 2013 list of the 51 Heroes of Aviation, ranked at No 25.


Howard Hughes had English, Welsh and some French Huguenot ancestry, and was a descendant of John Gano, the minister who allegedly baptized George Washington.


The senior Howard Hughes made the shrewd and lucrative decision to commercialize the invention by leasing the bits instead of selling them, obtaining several early patents, and founding the Howard Hughes Tool Company in 1909.


Howard Hughes's uncle was the famed novelist, screenwriter, and film director Rupert Howard Hughes.


Howard Hughes went on to be one of the first licensed ham-radio operators in Houston, having the assigned callsign W5CY.


At 12, Howard Hughes was photographed for the local newspaper, which identified him as the first boy in Houston to have a "motorized" bicycle, which he had built from parts of his father's steam engine.


Howard Hughes was an indifferent student, with a liking for mathematics, flying, and mechanics.


Howard Hughes took his first flying lesson at 14, and attended Fessenden School in Massachusetts in 1921.


The red-brick house where Howard Hughes lived as a teenager at 3921 Yoakum Blvd.


On his 19th birthday, Howard Hughes was declared an emancipated minor, enabling him to take full control of his life.


From a young age, Howard Hughes became a proficient and enthusiastic golfer.


Howard Hughes often scored near-par figures, playing the game to a two-three handicap during his 20s, and for a time aimed for a professional golf career.


Howard Hughes golfed frequently with top players, including Gene Sarazen.


Howard Hughes rarely played competitively and gradually gave up his passion for the sport to pursue other interests.


Howard Hughes played golf every afternoon at LA courses including the Lakeside Golf Club, Wilshire Country Club, or the Bel-Air Country Club.


Howard Hughes withdrew from Rice University shortly after his father's death.


Howard Hughes enjoyed a highly successful business career beyond engineering, aviation, and filmmaking; many of his career endeavors involved varying entrepreneurial roles.


Howard Hughes produced another hit, Scarface, a production delayed by censors' concern over its violence.


In 1948, Howard 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.


Howard Hughes shut down production at the studio for six months, during which time he ordered investigations into the political leanings of every remaining RKO employee.


Only after ensuring that the stars under contract to RKO had no suspect affiliations would Howard Hughes approve completed pictures to be sent back for re-shooting.


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.


Since Howard Hughes wanted to focus primarily on his aircraft manufacturing and TWA holdings during the years of the Korean War of 1950 to 1953, Howard Hughes offered to buy out all other RKO stockholders in order to dispense with their distractions.


Howard Hughes retained the rights to pictures that he had personally produced, including those made at RKO.


For Howard Hughes, this was the virtual end of his 25-year involvement in the motion-picture industry.


Howard Hughes acquired 1200 acres in Culver City for Howard Hughes Aircraft, bought 7 sections [4,480 acres] in Tucson for his Falcon missile-plant, and purchased 25,000 acres near Las Vegas.


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.


Howard Hughes extended his financial empire to include Las Vegas real estate, hotels, and media outlets, spending an estimated $300 million, and using his considerable powers to acquire many of the well-known hotels, especially the venues connected with organized crime.


Howard Hughes quickly became one of the most powerful men in Las Vegas.


Howard Hughes was instrumental in changing the image of Las Vegas from its Wild West roots into a more refined cosmopolitan city.


Howard Hughes set many world records and commissioned the construction of custom aircraft for himself while heading Hughes Aircraft at the airport in Glendale, CA.


Shortly after founding the company, Hughes used the alias "Charles Howard" to accept a job as a baggage handler for American Airlines.


Howard Hughes continued to work for American Airlines until his real identity was discovered.


Howard Hughes Aircraft became a major US 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, commercial satellites, and other electronics systems.


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.


On July 14,1938, Howard Hughes set another record by completing a flight around the world in just 91 hours, beating the previous record of 186 hours set in 1933 by Wiley Post in a single-engine Lockheed Vega by almost four days.


Howard Hughes wanted the flight to be a triumph of US aviation technology, illustrating that safe, long-distance air travel was possible.


Howard Hughes was awarded the Harmon Trophy in 1936 and 1938 for the record-breaking global circumnavigation.


Howard Hughes had a role in the financing of the Boeing 307 Stratoliner for TWA, and the design and financing of the Lockheed L-049 Constellation.


Aircraft historian Rene Francillon speculates that Howard Hughes designed the aircraft for another circumnavigation record attempt, but the outbreak of World War II closed much of the world's airspace and made it difficult to buy aircraft parts without government approval, so he decided to sell the aircraft to the US Army instead.


The initial test flights revealed serious flight control problems, so the D-2 returned to the hangar for extensive changes to its wings, and Howard Hughes proposed to redesignate it as the D-5.


On May 17,1943, Howard Hughes flew the Sikorsky from California, carrying two Civil Aeronautics Authority aviation inspectors, two of his employees, and actress Ava Gardner.


Howard Hughes dropped Gardner off in Las Vegas and proceeded to Lake Mead to conduct qualifying tests in the S-43.


Howard 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.


Howard Hughes paid divers $100,000 to raise the aircraft and later spent more than $500,000 restoring it.


Howard Hughes sent the plane to Houston, where it remained for many years.


Materiel Command demanded a host of major design changes notably including the elimination of Duramold; Howard Hughes, who sought $3.9 million in reimbursement for sunk costs from the D-2, strenuously objected because this undercut his argument that the XF-11 was a modified D-2 rather than a new design.


Howard Hughes was almost killed on July 7,1946, while performing the first flight of the XF-11 near Howard Hughes Airfield at Culver City, California.


Howard Hughes extended the test flight well beyond the 45-minute limit decreed by the USAAF, possibly distracted by landing gear retraction problems.


Howard 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.


Howard Hughes sustained significant injuries in the crash, including a crushed collar bone, multiple cracked ribs, crushed chest with collapsed left lung, shifting his heart to the right side of the chest cavity, and numerous third-degree burns.


An oft-told story said that Howard Hughes sent a check to the Marine weekly for the remainder of his life as a sign of gratitude.


Noah Dietrich asserted that Howard Hughes did send Durkin $200 a month, but Durkin's daughter denied knowing that he received any money from Howard Hughes.


Howard Hughes called in plant engineers to design a customized bed, equipped with hot and cold running water, built in six sections, and operated by 30 electric motors, with push-button adjustments.


Howard Hughes designed the hospital bed specifically to alleviate the pain caused by moving with severe burn injuries.


The War Production Board originally contracted with Henry Kaiser and Howard Hughes to produce the gigantic HK-1 Hercules flying boat for use during World War II to transport troops and equipment across the Atlantic as an alternative to seagoing troop transport ships that were vulnerable to German U-boats.


Critics nicknamed the Hercules the Spruce Goose, but it was actually made largely from birch rather than from aluminum, because the contract required that Howard Hughes build the aircraft of "non-strategic materials".


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.


In hotly-disputed testimony over TWA's route awards and malfeasance in the defense-acquisition process, Howard Hughes turned the tables on his main interlocutor, Maine senator Owen Brewster, and the hearings were widely interpreted as a Howard Hughes victory.


Howard Hughes used one personally, and he let TWA operate the other five.


Howard Hughes is commonly credited as the driving force behind the Lockheed Constellation airliner, which Howard Hughes and Frye ordered in 1939 as a long-range replacement for TWA's fleet of Boeing 307 Stratoliners.


Howard Hughes personally financed TWA's acquisition of 40 Constellations for $18 million, the largest aircraft order in history up to that time.


Howard Hughes did not have enough cash on hand or future cash flow to pay for the orders and did not immediately seek bank financing.


Howard Hughes believed that Dietrich wished to have Howard 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 Howard Hughes refused to grant, and with no further progress on the jet financing.


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 Howard Hughes sold control of the company to a trustee in 1964.


In 1970, Howard Hughes acquired San Francisco-based Air West and renamed it Howard Hughes Airwest.


Howard Hughes Airwest was then acquired by and merged into Republic Airlines in late 1980.


Howard Hughes had made numerous business partnerships through industrialist and producer David Charnay.


The film caused many controversies due to its critical flop and radioactive location used in St George, Utah, that eventually led to Howard 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.


In 1972, during the cold war era, Howard 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.


Howard Hughes's involvement provided the CIA with a plausible cover story, conducting expensive civilian marine research at extreme depths and the mining of undersea manganese nodules.


Howard Hughes dated many famous women, including Joan Crawford, Debra Paget, Billie Dove, Faith Domergue, Bette Davis, Yvonne De Carlo, Ava Gardner, Olivia de Havilland, Katharine Hepburn, Hedy Lamarr, Ginger Rogers, Janet Leigh, Pat Sheehan, Gloria Vanderbilt, Mamie Van Doren and Gene Tierney.


Howard Hughes 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 Howard Hughes disliked Harlow personally.


Russell refused him, and Howard Hughes promised it would never happen again.


Later, when Tierney's daughter Daria was born deaf and blind and with a severe learning disability because of Tierney's exposure to rubella during her pregnancy, Howard Hughes saw to it that Daria received the best medical care and paid all expenses.


In 1933, Howard Hughes made a purchase of a luxury steam yacht named the Rover, which was previously owned by Scottish shipping magnate James Mackay, 1st Earl of Inchcape.


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.


On July 16,1936, Howard Hughes was held blameless by a coroner's jury at the inquest into Meyer's death.


Howard Hughes told reporters outside the inquiry, "I was driving slowly and a man stepped out of the darkness in front of me".


On January 12,1957, Howard Hughes married actress Jean Peters at a small hotel in Tonopah, Nevada.


Some later claimed that Peters was "the only woman [Howard Hughes] ever loved", and he reportedly had his security officers follow her everywhere even when they were not in a relationship.


Showalter told an interviewer that because he frequently met with Peters, Howard Hughes's men threatened to ruin his career if he did not leave her alone.


One of his sources was John H Meier, a former business adviser of Hughes who had worked with Democratic National Committee Chairman Larry O'Brien.


Meier told Donald that he was sure the Democrats would win the election because Larry O'Brien had a great deal of information on Richard Nixon's illicit dealings with Howard Hughes that had never been released; O'Brien did not actually have any such information, but Meier wanted Nixon to think that he did.


Howard Hughes was widely considered eccentric and suffered from severe obsessive-compulsive disorder.


Dietrich wrote that Howard Hughes always ate the same thing for dinner; a New York strip steak cooked medium rare, dinner salad, and peas, but only the smaller ones, pushing the larger ones aside.


Howard Hughes wrote a detailed memorandum to the crew on how to fix the problem.


Howard Hughes revealed that Hughes's unpredictable mood swings made him wonder if the film would ever be completed.


In 1958, Howard Hughes told his aides that he wanted to screen some movies at a film studio near his home.


Howard Hughes stayed in the studio's darkened screening room for more than four months, never leaving.


Howard Hughes ate only chocolate bars and chicken and drank only milk, and was surrounded by dozens of boxes of Kleenex that he continuously stacked and re-arranged.


Howard Hughes wrote detailed memos to his aides giving them explicit instructions neither to look at him nor speak to him unless spoken to.


Howard Hughes would sit naked in his bedroom with a pink hotel napkin placed over his genitals, watching movies.


Howard Hughes began purchasing restaurant chains and four-star hotels that had been founded within the state of Texas.


Howard Hughes placed ownership of the restaurants with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and all licenses were resold shortly after.


Howard Hughes insisted on using tissues to pick up objects to insulate himself from germs.


Once one of the most visible men in America, Howard Hughes ultimately vanished from public view, although tabloids continued to follow rumors of his behavior and whereabouts.


Howard Hughes was reported to be terminally ill, mentally unstable, or even dead.


Injuries from numerous aircraft crashes caused Howard Hughes to spend much of his later life in pain, and he eventually became addicted to codeine, which he injected intramuscularly.


The wealthy and aging Howard Hughes, accompanied by his entourage of personal aides, began moving from one hotel to another, always taking up residence in the top floor penthouse.


On November 24,1966, Howard Hughes arrived in Las Vegas by railroad car and moved into the Desert Inn.


Howard Hughes bought the small Silver Slipper casino for the sole purpose of moving its trademark neon silver slipper which was visible from his bedroom, and had apparently kept him awake at night.


Howard Hughes wanted to change the image of Las Vegas to something more glamorous.


For example, Howard Hughes once became fond of Baskin-Robbins's 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.


Howard Hughes was concerned about the risk from residual nuclear radiation and attempted to halt the tests.


In two separate, last-ditch maneuvers, Hughes instructed his representatives to offer bribes of $1 million to both Presidents Lyndon B Johnson and Richard Nixon.


Howard Hughes offered her a settlement of over a million dollars, but she declined it.


Howard Hughes did not insist on a confidentiality agreement from Peters as a condition of the divorce.


Howard Hughes refused to discuss her life with Hughes and declined several lucrative offers from publishers and biographers.


Howard 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.


Howard Hughes subsequently moved into the penthouse at the Xanadu Princess Resort on Grand Bahama Island, which he had recently purchased.


Howard Hughes was so reclusive that he did not immediately publicly refute Irving's statement, leading many to believe that Irving's book was genuine.


However, before the book's publication, Howard Hughes finally denounced Irving in a teleconference attended by reporters Howard Hughes knew personally: James Bacon of the Hearst papers, Marin Miles of the Los Angeles Times, Vernon Scott of UPI, Roy Neal of NBC News, Gene Handsaker of AP, Wayne Thomas of the Chicago Tribune, and Gladwin Hill of the New York Times.


Howard Hughes was en route from his penthouse at the Acapulco Princess Hotel in Mexico to the Methodist Hospital in Houston.


Howard Hughes suffered from malnutrition and was covered in bedsores.


Howard Hughes is buried next to his parents at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston.


In 1978, a Nevada court ruled the Mormon Will a forgery and officially declared that Howard Hughes had died intestate.


In 1984, Howard Hughes's estate paid an undisclosed amount to Terry Moore, who claimed she and Howard Hughes had secretly married on a yacht in international waters off Mexico in 1949 and never divorced.


The moving image collection of Howard Hughes is held at the Academy Film Archive.