rotten > Library > Biographies > Icons of Business > Howard Hughes
When the CIA needs to spend $200M (in 1970 dollars) to recover a wrecked Soviet submarine three miles below the ocean's surface, which insane billionaire do they call? Yes, the same one that owned most of Las Vegas' casinos, slept with far too many gorgeous Hollywood movie stars, and wore tissue boxes on his feet to keep germs away. Can you survive on a diet of Hershey bars and milk and remain sane? We say yes!
Documents released by the DOE in 1997 indicate that Hughes once complained to Vice President Hubert Humphrey about underground atomic bomb tests occurring just 70 miles away from his Las Vegas casinos. In response, the Atomic Energy Commission promised that Hughes would receive bomb blueprints for his engineers to study. As far as can be determined, this promise was not kept.
Became a billionaire (and the world's richest man) in 1966.
Bigtime financial contributor to the Richard M. Nixon campaigns. Donated $100,000 to Nixon's slush fund. Without Hughes, Watergate likely would never have reached the point where it would topple a Presidency. Yet these were side effects of what Hughes was doing, never the intent: during the entire Watergate crisis, Hughes remained largely unaware of the events around him.
In his final days, Hughes surrounded himself with Mormons. He let his hair and fingernails grow out, never trimming them. He gave up brushing his teeth, which rotted away and fell out on his nonstop diet of candy and cake. He was deathly afraid of other people's germs, but not his own. For more than two decades he remained in seclusion, barely coming out to debunk the fake Howard Hughes Autobiography, and even then only over the telephone.
Despite his (semi-) anal attitude toward health, he took intravenous drugs. In fact, when his body was x-rayed it revealed dozens of needle tips broken off in his arms and legs.
After Hughes' death numerous false Howard Hughes Wills appeared.
|24 Sep 1905
|Howard Robard Hughes, Jr. actually born, Humble TX.
|24 Dec 1905
|Howard Hughes purported to have been born, Houston TX.
|12 Jan 1957
|Under assumed names, Howard Hughes secretly marries actress Jean Peters at the L&L Motel in Tonopah, Nevada.
|Hughes' final interview, given to Frank McCulloch of Time/Life.
|Author Clifford Irving asserts to McGraw-Hill publishing that he is in a position to work with Howard Hughes to produce a memoir.
|McGraw-Hill announces the upcoming autobiography of Howard Hughes.
|7 Jan 1972
|Over telephone to a group of seven journalists, Howard Hughes denies any involvement in this so-called "autobiography." He claims to have never left the Bahamas during the time Irving supposedly interviewed him.
|28 Jan 1972
|Clifford Irving confesses to his hoax.
|9 Mar 1972
|Clifford Irving charged with conspiracy to defraud, forgery, perjury.
|23 Dec 1972
|Hughes is living in Managua, Nicaragua at the time a massive earthquake levels the city, killing 5,000 people. After the quake he stays at the country palace of Anastasio Somoza.
|24 Dec 1972
|Hughes arrives in Florida. After exerting some political pressure, IRS agents waiting there are called off and a U.S. Customs official is allowed to give Hughes an IRS interview request. [Drosnin,438.]
|10 Jun 1973
|A naked Howard Hughes spends the day buzzing around Hatfield Airport near London, piloting a Hawker Siddeley 748 aircraft. [Drosnin,439.]
|9 Aug 1973
|Howard Hughes fractures his hip during a nocturnal bathroom run, and is bedridden until his death. [Drosnin,439.]
|5 Jun 1974
|The warehouse at 7000 Romaine Street in Hollywood is burgled. About 10,000 documents are stolen, the "secret papers of Howard Hughes." Perhaps Hughes stole the papers himself, to avoid a pending subpoena, or perhaps it was organized crime. In any event, Michael Drosnin located the individual responsible and wrote a book Citizen Hughes based on the treasure trove of information taken.
|7 Feb 1975
|The Los Angeles Times reveals the true purpose of the Glomar Explorer.
|18 Mar 1975
|Further information on the mission of the Glomar Explorer revealed in the press.
|10 Feb 1976
|Howard Hughes enters Mexico.
|4 Apr 1976
|Howard Hughes enters a coma.
|5 Apr 1976
|Howard Hughes dies, emaciated and broken, at 1:27 PM en route to Houston.
|7 May 1977
|In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Watergate burglar Frank Sturgis claims that the objective of the Watergate break-in was to determine whether Howard Hughes was involved in DNC financing.
|Citizen Hughes published.
|21 May 1989
|Simpson's Auction Galleries in Houston holds an auction of Hughes memorabilia, including the hoax Clifford Iriving biography manuscript.
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