Friday, December 21, 2007

Las Vegas baron and recluse

The wealthy and aging Howard Hughes, accompanied by his entourage of personal aides, moved from one hotel to another, always taking up residence in the top floor penthouse. During the last ten years of his life, from 1966 to 1976, Hughes lived in hotels in Beverly Hills; Boston; Las Vegas; Nassau, Bahamas; Vancouver, Canada;[20] London, England; Managua, Nicaragua; Acapulco, Mexico; and others. One of the reasons he moved so many times was because of his obsession with minimizing taxation. Anyone who inhabits a state for six months out of the year must pay state income tax. To avoid this, Howard would move every five and a half months thus claiming no legal state residence.

On 27 November 1966, Hughes arrived in Las Vegas by railroad car and moved into the Desert Inn. Refusing to leave the hotel and to avoid further conflicts with the owners of the hotel, Hughes bought the Desert Inn in early 1967. The hotel's eighth floor became the nerve center of his empire and the ninth-floor penthouse became Hughes' personal residence. Between 1966 and 1968, Hughes bought several other hotels/casinos (Castaways, New Frontier, The Landmark Hotel and Casino, Sands, and Silver Slipper) from the Mafia. An unusual incident marked an earlier Hughes connection to Las Vegas. During his 1944 engagement at the Last Frontier hotel in Las Vegas, flamboyant entertainer Liberace mistakingly took Howard Hughes for his light director, instructing him to instantly bring up a blue light should he start to play "Claire De Lune." The alleged staff member nodded in accordance as the hotel's entertainment director approached the scene, properly introducing Howard Hughes to Liberace.[21]

Hughes wanted to change the image of Las Vegas from its mobsters in gaudy silk suits and thousand-dollar-a-night call girls to something more glamorous. As Hughes wrote in a memo to an aide, "I like to think of Las Vegas in terms of a well-dressed man in a dinner jacket and a beautifully jeweled and furred female getting out of an expensive car." A chronic insomniac, Hughes bought several local television stations (including KLAS-TV) so that there would always be something for him to watch in the early hours of the morning.

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.[22] In addition to supervising day-to-day business operations and Hughes' health, they also went to great pains to satisfy Hughes' every whim. 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 to Las Vegas. 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, until the 350 gallons were gone.[23]

As an owner of several major businesses in Las Vegas, Hughes wielded enormous political and economic power in Nevada and was often able to influence the outcome of elections there and elsewhere. A marked obsession that affected Hughes throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s was the underground nuclear testing that was then occurring in Nevada. Hughes was afraid of the risk posed by the residual nuclear radiation from the tests. Hughes stayed up for days and nights on end, managing his assets to try to halt the nuclear tests. When they finally went through despite Hughes' efforts, the detonations were powerful enough that the entire hotel in which he was staying trembled with the shock wave. In two separate, last-ditch maneuvers, Hughes instructed his representatives to offer million-dollar bribes to both presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon. His aides never offered the bribes, reporting to Hughes that Johnson declined the offer and they were unable to contact Nixon. Hughes' personal correspondence makes it clear that the Nevada nuclear testing issue was the last straw leading to his self-imposed exile from the United States, which was to end only with his death.

In 1971, 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 upon 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 big-name publishers and biographers. Peters would state only that she had not seen Hughes for several years before their divorce, because his psychological problems forced him to stay in a separate room, talking with her only by phone.

Hughes was living in the Intercontinental Hotel near Lake Managua in Nicaragua where he sought privacy and security.[24] However, a powerful 6.5 earthquake damaged Managua in December 1972. On the pretext of possible assassination and intrusive press photographers, his aides insisted the windows be blacked out. He took precautions and stayed in the Nicaraguan National Palace with former dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle before leaving for Florida on a private jet the following day.[25]

In 1972, author Clifford Irving created a media sensation when he claimed to have co-written an authorized autobiography of Hughes. Hughes was such a reclusive figure that he did not immediately publicly refute Irving's statement, leading many people to believe Irving's book was a genuine autobiography. Before the book's publication, however, 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. The 2007 film The Hoax, starring Richard Gere, is based on these events.

Howard Hughes - Aviator and engineer

Hughes was a lifelong aircraft enthusiast, pilot, and self-taught aircraft engineer. At Rogers Airport in Los Angeles, he learned to fly from pioneer aviators, including Moye Stephens. He set many world records and designed and built several aircraft himself while heading Hughes Aircraft. The most technologically important aircraft he designed was the Hughes H-1 Racer. On 13 September 1935, Hughes, flying the H-1, set the airspeed record of 352 mph (566 km/h) over his test course near Santa Ana, California. The previous record was 314 mph (505 km/h). A year and a half later, (19 January 1937), flying a somewhat re-designed H-1 Racer, Hughes set a new transcontinental airspeed 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 mph (518 km/h).[10]

The H-1 Racer featured a number of design innovations: it had retractable landing gear and all rivets and joints set flush into the body of the aircraft to reduce drag. The H-1 Racer is thought to have influenced the design of a number of World War II fighters such as the Mitsubishi Zero, the Focke-Wulf FW190 and the F6F Hellcat;[11] although that has never been proven. The H-1 Racer was donated to the Smithsonian in 1975 and is on display at the National Air and Space Museum.

On 10 July 1938 Hughes set another record by completing a flight around the world in just 91 hours (3 days, 19 hours), beating the previous record by more than four days. For this flight he did not fly an aircraft of his own design but a Lockheed Super Electra (a twin-engine transport with a four-man crew) fitted with all of the latest radio and navigational equipment. Hughes wanted the flight to be a triumph of technology, illustrating that safe, long-distance air travel was possible. In 1938, 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.

Hughes received many awards as an aviator, including the Harmon Trophy in 1936 and 1938, the Collier Trophy in 1938, the Octave Chanute Award in 1940, and a special Congressional Gold Medal in 1939 " recognition of the achievements of Howard Hughes in advancing the science of aviation and thus bringing great credit to his country throughout the world." According to his obituary in the New York Times, Hughes never bothered to come to Washington to pick up the Congressional Gold Medal. It was eventually mailed to him by President Harry S. Truman.

Fatal crash of the XF-11

The second XF-11 prototype (with conventional propellers).


The second XF-11 prototype (with conventional propellers).

Hughes checking the first XF-11 prototype (with the original twin propeller design).


Hughes checking the first XF-11 prototype (with the original twin propeller design).

Hughes was involved in a near-fatal aircraft accident on 7 July 1946, while piloting the experimental U.S. Army spyplane XF-11 over Los Angeles. An oil leak caused one of the counter-rotating propellers to reverse its pitch, making the aircraft yaw sharply. Hughes tried to save the craft by landing it on the Los Angeles Country Club golf course (incorrectly stated as the Wilshire Country Club in the 2004 movie), but seconds before he reached his attempted destination, the XF-11 started dropping dramatically and crashed in the Beverly Hills neighborhood surrounding the country club.[12]

When the XF-11 finally skidded to a halt after mowing down three houses, the fuel tanks exploded, setting fire to the aircraft and a nearby home. Hughes lay seriously injured beside the burning XF-11 until he was rescued by Marine Master Sergeant William L. Durkin, who happened to be in the area visiting friends. Hughes sustained significant injuries in the crash; including a crushed collar bone, 24 broken ribs [13] and numerous third-degree burns.

However, Hughes was proud of the fact that his mind was still working. Also, as he lay in his hospital bed, he noted that he did not like the design of his bed. He called in plant engineers to design a "tailor-made" bed, equipped with hot and cold running water, built in six sections, and operated by 30 electric motors, with push-button adjustments. [14]

Many attribute his long-term addiction to opiates to his use of morphine as a painkiller during his convalescence. The trademark moustache he wore afterwards was meant to cover a scar on his upper lip resulting from the accident.

Hughes H-4 Hercules

The H-4 Hercules with Hughes at the controls

The H-4 Hercules with Hughes at the controls

Possibly his most famous aircraft project was the H-4 Hercules, nicknamed the "Spruce Goose" (to Hughes' consternation, since its frame was built of birch, not spruce). The aircraft was originally contracted by the U.S. government for use in World War II, as a viable way to transport troops and equipment across the Atlantic instead of sea going troop transports that were liable to the threat of German U-Boats. In 1947, it was the largest aircraft ever built, weighing 190 tons and not completed until just after the end of World War II. The Hercules flew only once for a mile (1.6 km) (with Hughes at the controls) on 2 November 1947.

Confusion still exists as to whether or not the Hercules is still, in fact, the world's largest aircraft. To say it is the largest aircraft ever built is slightly inaccurate. An aircraft's size can be judged by length, weight, or wingspan. The Hercules is certainly not the longest aircraft ever built. Indeed, several airships have surpassed 800 ft (240 m). Also, despite its immense size, the Hercules weighs much less than many commercial jet liners. Measured by wingspan, however, the Hercules is greater than anything built before or since. It is the only aircraft ever built with a wingspan in excess of 300 feet (90 m), the next largest wingspan being about 30 ft (9 m) shorter.

Hughes was summoned to testify before the Senate War Investigating Committee to explain why the aircraft had not been delivered to the United States Army Air Forces during the war, but the committee disbanded without releasing a final report. Because the contract required the aircraft to be built of "non-strategic materials," Hughes built the aircraft largely from birch (rather than aluminum) in his Westchester, California facility to fulfill his contract. The aircraft was on display alongside the 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 Museum.

Hughes Aircraft  

Hughes Aircraft Company, a division of Hughes Tool Company, was originally founded by Hughes in 1932, in a rented corner of a Lockheed Aircraft Corporation hangar in Burbank, California, to carry out the expensive conversion of a military aircraft into the H-1 racer. During and after World War II, Hughes fashioned his company into a major defense contractor. The Hughes Helicopters division started in 1947 when helicopter manufacturer Kellett sold their latest design to Hughes for production.

In 1948, Hughes created a new division of the company, the Hughes Aerospace Group. The Hughes Space and Communications Group and the Hughes Space Systems Division were later spun off in 1948 to form their own divisions and ultimately became the Hughes Space and Communications Company in 1961. In 1953, Howard Hughes gave all his stock in the Hughes Aircraft Company to the newly formed Howard Hughes Medical Institute, thereby turning the aerospace and defense contractor into a tax-exempt charity. 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. Boeing, GM, and Raytheon acquired the Hughes Research Laboratories.

The Airlines

In 1939, at the urging of Jack Frye, president of TWA, Hughes quietly purchased a majority share of TWA stock for nearly $7 million and took control of the airline. Upon assuming ownership of TWA, Hughes was prohibited by federal law from building his own aircraft. Seeking an aircraft that would perform better than TWA's fleet of Boeing 307 Stratoliners, Hughes approached Boeing's competitor, Lockheed. Hughes already had a good relationship with Lockheed since they had built the aircraft he used in his record flight around the world in 1938. Lockheed agreed to Hughes' request that the new aircraft be built in absolute secrecy. The result was the revolutionary Constellation and TWA purchased the first 40 of the new airliners off the production line.

Lockheed Constellation


Lockheed Constellation

Hughes' ownership of and plans for TWA may have been the real reason he was investigated by the Senate following the war. Pan American World Airways chief Juan Trippe sought to monopolize international air travel and had influenced powerful Maine Senator Owen Brewster to propose legislation securing Pan Am as the sole American airline allowed to fly overseas at a time when Hughes planned TWA service to Europe with the Constellation. Dietrich wrote of the investigation that Hughes beat the Senate committee by turning the hearings into an attack on Brewster. Hughes successfully exposed Brewster's dealings with Pan Am and later helped defeat his re-election bid by pouring considerable funds into the campaign of his opponent, Frederick Payne.

In 1956, Hughes placed an order for 63 Convair 880s for TWA at a cost of $400 million. Although Hughes was extremely wealthy at this time, outside creditors demanded that Hughes relinquish control of TWA in return for providing the money. In 1960, Hughes was ultimately forced out of TWA, although he still owned 78 percent of the company and battled to regain control.

Before Hughes' ouster, the TWA jet financing issue precipitated the end of Hughes' relationship with Noah Dietrich. Dietrich remembered Hughes developing a plan by which Hughes Tool Company profits were to be inflated in order to sell the company for a windfall that would pay the bills for the 880s. Dietrich agreed to go to Texas to implement the plan on the condition that Hughes agreed to a capital gains arrangement he had long promised Dietrich. When Hughes balked, Dietrich resigned immediately. "Noah," Dietrich quoted Hughes as replying, "I cannot exist without you!" Dietrich stood firm and eventually had to sue to retrieve personal possessions from his office after Hughes ordered it locked.

In 1966, he was forced by a U.S. federal court to sell his shares in TWA due to concerns over conflict of interest between his ownership of both TWA and Hughes Aircraft. The sale of his TWA shares netted him a profit of $547 million. During the 1970s, Hughes went back into the airline business, buying the airline Air West and renaming it Hughes Airwest.

Howard Hughes - Mental and physical illness

By the late 1950s Hughes had developed debilitating symptoms of social avoidance behavior and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which manifested itself in various ways. His mother may have suffered from OCD, and coddled and spoiled her only child. It was Hughes' mother who first provided her young son with a means of escaping social situations and pressures by using the excuse of illness. As a young boy, when Howard wanted to attend summer camp (during a time when the public feared the spread of polio), his parents wanted assurances that their son was protected. When this assurance was not forthcoming, his mother decided it was better to keep him home. Subsequently after attending camp one summer, Hughes avoided another year at camp by complaining about headaches and bad dreams when he returned home. Later, on the verge of adolescence, young Howard became ill and was kept out of school for most of the year. He developed a form of paralysis that was never diagnosed and which disappeared after several months. [17]

In the 1930s, close 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. While producing The Outlaw, Hughes became obsessed by a minor flaw in one of Jane Russell's blouses, claiming that the fabric bunched up along a seam and gave the appearance of two nipples on each of Russell's breasts. He was reportedly so concerned by the matter as to write a detailed memorandum to the film crew on how to fix the problem.

Richard Fleischer, who directed His Kind of Woman with Hughes as executive producer, wrote at length in his autobiography about the difficulty of dealing with the famed tycoon. In this book, Just Tell Me When to Cry, published in 1993, Fleischer explained that Hughes was fixated on trivial details and was alternately indecisive and obstinate. He went on to say that Hughes' unpredictable mood swings made him wonder at times if the film would ever be completed.

As an adult—at one time one of the most visible men in America—Hughes ultimately vanished from public view altogether, although the tabloids continued to follow rumors regarding his behavior and whereabouts. At various times, the media reported him to be terminally ill, mentally unstable, or possibly dead. Hughes eventually became a complete recluse, locking himself in darkened rooms in a medication-induced daze. Though he always kept a barber on call, Hughes only had his hair cut and nails trimmed about once a year. Several doctors were kept in the house on a substantial salary, but Hughes rarely saw them and usually refused to follow their advice. Toward the end of his life, his inner circle was largely composed of Mormons because he considered them trustworthy even though Hughes himself was not a member of their church.

Hughes equipped this 1954 Chrysler New Yorker with an aircraft-grade air filtration system which took up the entire trunk

Hughes equipped this 1954 Chrysler New Yorker with an aircraft-grade air filtration system which took up the entire trunk

Hughes by this time had become severely addicted to codeine, valium, and a number of other prescription drugs and was becoming increasingly frail. He insisted on using tissues to pick up objects, so that he could insulate himself from germs. It has also been said that he watched the 1968 film Ice Station Zebra some 150 times. [18]

In a bout of obsession with his home state of Texas, Hughes began purchasing all restaurant chains and four star hotels that had been founded within Texan borders. This included, if for only a short period, many unknown franchises currently out of business. Ownership of the restaurants was placed in the hands of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and all licenses were re-sold shortly after.

Hughes may have contracted syphilis as a young man, and some biographers believe that much of the strange behavior at the end of his life, for example his well-documented aversion to handshaking, may be attributed to the tertiary stage of that disease. The condition is thought to have first manifested itself in the form of tiny blisters that erupted on his hands. After receiving medical treatment for his symptoms, Hughes is said to have been warned by his doctor not to shake hands for some time and avoided doing so for the rest of his life. Syphilis has also been blamed by some biographers for a bizarre episode in which Hughes burned all his clothes

Howard Hughes Medical Institute

In 1953, Hughes launched the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Maryland, formed with the express goal of basic biomedical research including trying to understand, in Hughes' words, the "genesis of life itself." Hughes' first will, that 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 (Brown and Boeske 34). Hughes gave all his stock of the Hughes Aircraft Company to the institute, thereby turning the aerospace and defense contractor into a tax-exempt charity. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute's new Board of Trustees sold Hughes Aircraft in 1985 to General Motors for $5.2 billion, allowing the institute to grow dramatically.
The deal was the topic of a protracted legal battle between Hughes and the Internal Revenue Service, which Hughes ultimately won. After his death in 1976, many thought that the balance of Hughes' estate would go to the institute, although it ultimately was divided among his cousins and other heirs, given the lack of a will to the contrary. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute is America's second largest private foundation[citation needed] and the largest devoted to biological and medical research with an endowment of $16.3 billion as of June 2007.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Founder Howard Hughes
Founded 1953
Headquarters Chevy Chase, Maryland, United States
Biological and Medical research Method Laboratories,
FundingEndowment$16.3 billion USD
The website is

Howard Hughes in Hollywood

Outlaw poster

Hughes was at first dismissed by Hollywood insiders as a rich man's son. However, his first two films, 1927's Everybody's Acting and 1928's Two Arabian Knights, were financial successes, the latter winning an Academy Award for Best Director of a Comedy Picture. 1928's The Racket and 1931's The Front Page were nominated for Academy Awards. Hughes spent a then-unheard-of $3.8 million of his own money to make Hell's Angels, an epic flying film that ultimately became a smash hit after overcoming many obstacles, released in 1930. He produced another hit, Scarface, in 1932. One of his best-known films may be The Outlaw which made a star of Jane Russell, for whom Hughes designed a special bra (although Russell decided against wearing the bra because of a mediocre fit). Scarface and The Outlaw both received considerable attention from industry censors; Scarface for its violence, The Outlaw due to Russell's revealing costumes.

He signed an unknown actor, David Bacon, in 1942 to play Billy the Kid, and then later replaced him with Jack Buetel. According to Albert "Cubby" Broccoli and Lucien Ballard, both of whom worked on The Outlaw, Hughes and Buetel had a sexual relationship, which also influenced Bacon's replacement in the movie. Bacon's murder the following year sparked an investigation which brought to light allegations of the affair between them and which may have indirectly led to Bacon's death. Bacon's widow, Greta Keller, claimed later that he wanted to get out of his contract with Hughes and had been prepared to reveal details about their alleged homosexual relationship in order to secure a release from the studio. However, according to the book written by Brown and Boeske, hundreds of depositions from Hughes' associates have never revealed any evidence that he was gay.

Hughes kept his wife isolated at home for weeks at a time and, in 1929, she returned to Houston and filed for divorce. Hughes was a notorious ladies' man who spent time with many famous women, including Billie Dove, Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Ava Gardner, Olivia de Havilland and Gene Tierney. He also proposed to Joan Fontaine several times, according to her autobiography No Bed of Roses. Bessie Love was a mistress during his first marriage. Jean Harlow accompanied him to the premiere of Hell's Angels, but Hughes' longtime, right-hand man, Noah Dietrich, wrote many years later that the relationship was strictly professional—Hughes personally disliked Harlow. In his 1971 book, Howard: The Amazing Mr. Hughes, Dietrich also noted 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 – when Tierney's daughter Daria who was born deaf and blind with severe mental retardation due to Tierney being exposed to the German Measles during her pregnancy, he saw to it that Daria received the best medical care and paid all expenses. Tierney never forgot his acts of kindness.

On 11 July 1936, a car driven by Hughes struck and killed a pedestrian named Gabriel Meyer at the corner of Third Street and Lorraine in Los Angeles. Although Hughes was certified as sober at the hospital to which he was taken after the accident, a doctor there made a note that Hughes had been drinking. He was taken to jail and booked on "suspicion of negligent homicide." A witness to the accident told police that Hughes was driving erratically and too fast, and that Meyer had been standing in the safety zone of a streetcar stop. 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. Hughes made the same claim to reporters outside the inquiry, saying, "I was driving slowly and a man stepped out of the darkness in front of me." The District Attorney recommended that Hughes be cleared of responsibility for Meyer's death.

In 1956, he released The Conqueror, considered a tremendous flop and particularly infamous for what was considered a miscasting of John Wayne as Genghis Khan.

On 12 January 1957, Hughes married actress Jean Peters, whom he had known in Hollywood for several years. His second marriage was troubled, however, with much of the contact between husband and wife conducted by phone.

Howard R. Hughes, Sr.

tool-father Howard Robard Hughes, Sr. (September 9, 1869January 14, 1924) was an American businessman and the father of Howard Robard Hughes, Jr., the reclusive multi-millionaire. Hughes, Sr. created the fortune that Hughes, Jr. inherited at 18 years of age.

Hughes, Sr. was born in Lancaster, Missouri. His parents were Felix Turner Hughes (Milstadt, 10 November 1837Los Angeles, California, 19 October 1926) and wife (married at Memphis, Tennessee, 1 August 1865) Jean Amelia Summerlin (Keosaqua, Iowa, 6 May 1842Los Angeles, California, 4 November 1928, daughter of Thomas Summerlin and wife Bathsheba Robard). His brother Rupert Hughes was a well known novelist and screenwriter. He also had a sister named Greta Hughes (born in Schuyler, Missouri, 4 June 1866).

Hughes was a classic entrepreneur, trying and failing at many endeavors before he finally found his specialty. Hughes lived in Houston (where Howard Hughes Jr. also lived before his life in Los Angeles).

Hughes attended Harvard, then studied law at the University of Iowa. He never graduated, but practiced law with his father. Later, in Dallas, Texas, on 24 May 1904, he married Allene Stone Gano (Scott, Kentucky, 14 July 188329 March 1922, daughter of William Bariah Gano, a descendant of Catherine of Valois, Dowager Queen of England, by second husband Owen Tudor, and wife Jeannette de la Fayette Grissom[1][2][dubiousdiscuss]). Their honeymoon was a journey around the world, and they returned with very little money.

Hughes engaged in various business endeavors before capitalizing on the Spindletop oil discovery to Texas, as a result of which he began an oil business. He patented a two-cone rotary rock drill bit that revolutionized drilling. It was unlikely that he actually invented the bit, but his law training helped him understand that the patent was the most important part of the financial life of any invention[dubiousdiscuss]. According to the PBS show History Detectives, several other people and companies had produced similar drill bits years earlier.

tool-hughescompany He co-founded The Sharp-Hughes Tool Company with Walter Benona Sharp based in Houston, Texas in 1909, and bought full ownership of the company upon the death of Sharp in 1912. The essential asset of Hughes Tool was Hughes's patent for his tri-cone roller bit. The fees for licensing this technology were the basis of Hughes Tool's revenues. After Hughes Sr's death in 1924, Howard R. Hughes Jr. assumed control of the company as its sole owner. Later Hughes Co. engineers created a tricone bit and from 1934 to 1951 Hughes's market share approached 100 per cent. The bit found virtually all the oil discovered during the initial years of oil discovery, and Howard Junior became the wealthiest person in the world. During 1972 he made the tool company public and realized $150 million the day it sold

Hughes Tool Company

Hughes Tool Company was established in 1909 as Sharp-Hughes Tool Company when Howard R. Hughes, Sr. patented a roller cutter bit that dramatically improved the rotary drilling process for oil drilling rigs. He partnered with longtime business associate Walter Benona Sharp to manufacture and market the bit. Sharp's widow, Estelle Sharp, sold her 50% share in the company to Howard Hughes Sr. following her husband's death in 1912. The company was renamed Hughes Tool at this point. When Hughes Sr. died in 1924, 75% of the company was left to Howard Hughes Jr., who at the time was a student at Rice University. According to Howard Sr.'s will, his son was to initially receive a 25% share, his wife 50%, and the remaining 25% was to be divided between various family members. Since Howard Sr.'s wife had died some years earlier, and the will had not be updated to reflect that, Howard Jr. automatically inherited his mother's shares. Resentful of his relatives' attempts to run the business, Howard Hughes Jr. had himself declared a legal adult (21 being the age of majority at the time), and bought out his relatives' minority share in the business.

Under Howard Jr.'s ownership, Hughes Tool ventured into the motion picture business via Hughes Productions during the 1920s, and into the airline business in 1939 with the acquisition of a controlling interest in Transcontinental and Western Air (later renamed Trans World Airlines).

In 1932, Hughes formed Hughes Aircraft Company as a division of the Hughes Tool Company. Hughes Aircraft thrived on wartime contracts during World War II (though not on the only two contracts it received to actually build airplanes), and by the early 1950s was one of America's largest defense contractors and aerospace companies with revenues far outpacing the original oil tools business. In 1953, Hughes Aircraft became a separate company and was donated to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as its endowment. Hughes Aircraft's helicopter manufacturing business was retained by Hughes Tool Co. as its Aircraft Division until 1972.

For a period of time in the 1940s to late 1950s, Hughes Tool owned the RKO companies, including RKO Pictures, RKO Studios, RKO Theatres, and the RKO Radio Network. For a brief period in the early 1960s, Hughes Tool held a minority stake in Northeast Airlines. Hughes Tool's majority stake in TWA was sold off in 1966. Two years later, in 1968, Hughes Tool Company purchased the North Las Vegas Air Terminal.

In the late 1960s, Hughes Tool ventured into the hotel and casino business with the acquisition of the Sands, Castaways, Landmark, Frontier, Silver Slipper, and Desert Inn, all in Las Vegas. Hughes Tool also purchased KLAS-TV, Las Vegas' CBS affiliate. In the early 70's, Hughes Tool ventured back into the airline industry with the takeover of the largest regional air carrier in the western United States: Air West, renamed Hughes Airwest following the purchase. Hughes Tool also briefly owned Los Angeles Airways, a small airline operating a commuter service with a fleet of helicopters.

In 1972, Howard Hughes sold the Hughes Tool Company. This became the "new" Hughes Tool Company while the remaining divisions of the business were placed in a new holding company, the Summa Corporation. The company merged with Baker International to form Baker Hughes Incorporated in 1987.

Howard Hughes - Childhood years

 tool-at8jpgThe Hughes birthplace is disputed in various sources as both Humble, Texas and Houston, Texas is given. He also claimed his birthday was Christmas Eve, although some biographers debate his exact birth date, (according to, it was most likely "the more mundane date of September 24"; NNDB in turn refer to his baptismal records, but do not produce them for verification[1] ). His parents were Allene Stone Gano Hughes (a descendant of Catherine of Valois, Dowager Queen of England, by second husband Owen Tudor) [2][3] and Howard R. Hughes, Sr., who patented the tri-cone roller bit, which allowed rotary drilling for oil in previously inaccessible places. Howard R. Hughes, Sr., founded Hughes Tool Company in 1909 to commercialize this invention.


Howard Hughes parents

Hughes grew up under the strong influence of his mother, who was obsessed with protecting her son from all germs and diseases. From his father, Hughes inherited an interest in all things mechanical. Showing great aptitude in engineering at an early age, Hughes erected Houston's first wireless broadcast system when he was 11 years old.[4] At age 12, Hughes was supposedly photographed in the local newspaper as being the first boy in Houston to have a 'motorized' bicycle, which he had built himself from parts taken from his father's steam engine.[5] He was an indifferent student with a liking for mathematics and flying, taking flying lessons at 14[6] and later auditing math and engineering courses at Caltech.[7]


Allene Hughes died in March 1922, due to complications from an ectopic pregnancy. In January 1924, Howard Hughes, Sr., died of a heart attack. Their deaths apparently inspired Hughes to include the creation of a medical research laboratory in his 1925 will.[citation needed] Because Howard Sr.'s will had not been updated since Allene's death, Hughes inherited 75% of the family fortune.[8] On his 19th birthday, Hughes was declared an emancipated minor, enabling him to take full control of his legacy. [9]


On to Hollywood

Hughes dropped out of Rice University shortly after his father's death. In June 1925, he married Ella Rice, and moved to Hollywood, where Hughes hoped to make a name for himself making movies.

About this blog

This blog is about Howard Robard Hughes, an eccentric American aviator, engineer, industrialist, film producer and director, and one of the wealthiest people in the world. He is famous for setting multiple world air-speed records, building the Hughes H-1 Racer and H-4 Hercules aircraft, producing the movies Hell's Angels, Scarface and The Outlaw, as well as owning and expanding Trans World Airlines.
Howard Hughes was also a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal (presented 7 August 1939).


Howard Hughes Pictures

Was Howard Hughes a visionary or an eccentric

Where is Mr Hughes buried?