This biography of Howard Hughes is based on a tremendous amount of information not previously available to earlier biographers of the billionaire. Between massive files from FBI investigations and the many years of litigation to settle his estate upon his death, these authors are able to provide authentic details of Hughes’ fabled life.
Howard Hughes’ father invented a drilling bit that revolutionized the oil industry, making them tremendously wealthy. Howard’s mother smothered him with attention and control, creating in the boy attitudes and inclinations that appeared very unhealthy.
As an adult, Howard spent his inherited family’s wealth on movies and aircraft. As the owner of RKO Pictures, he made provocative films that caused many fights with the censor board. More notoriously, Hughes expanded his womanizing ways by creating a huge network of women under contract to RKO. At one point he had more than 124 women that he tempted with the lure of fame as actresses, while also having sexual relationships with most of them. He basically treated women as items to own and control, to be available at any time that his whim desired. If it weren’t for his tremendous wealth (at one point he was the second wealthiest man in the US) he’d have been locked up or worse. Some of his most serious liaisons included Katherine Hepburn among many, many other big names.
In addition to huge sexual appetites, Hughes was also an inventor and aviator. He created numerous improvements to aircraft that we benefit from today, including blind rivets, pilot oxygen systems, retractable landing gear, and many other achievements. He broken a number of aviation records including fastest aircraft, fastest cross-continental flight, and fastest around-the-world flight. He also transformed Trans-World Airlines (TWA) from a small freight company into a global aviation juggernaut.
But Hughes had enormous demons was well as tremendous wealth. He suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) before it was even recognized by the medical community. In fact, his case is sometimes used as a classic example of the syndrome. His OCD was made significantly worse by the head trauma he survived from 14 different plane and auto crashes. In later years, the OCD was a dominant factor in his life as a recluse.
Another problem included contracting syphilis from one of the many women he bedded. His case was never properly handled, and he experienced significant problems in his older age from the disease.
One of the major results of his numerous medical issues as an addiction to codeine and other pills, which eventually grew to his consuming tremendous quantities of these drugs.
Hughes clearly died of neglect and a drug overdose, and since he had no will, a long series of lawsuits resulted as various entities battled for a portion of his vast empire.
This is definitely an interesting saga.