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Howard Hughes's Biography

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Howard Robard Hughes was born on 24 December 1905 in Houston, Texas.

When only 18, Howard Hughes inherited his father's profitable oil drilling equipment company, Hughes Tool Company.

From 1926 Hughes got involved in Hollywood. He formed the Caddo Corporation and produced various films. He also directed Hell's Angels (1930), which incorporated scenes with Jean Harlow, whom, in effect, Hughes discovered, but later released, although he reserved the right to make another film with her, which became Bombshell (1933).

Other movies in this period include The Front Page (1931) and Scarface (1932). In 1932 he also produced Sky Devils which proved a precursor to his own career in aviation.

Heading up Hughes Aviation he not only designed and built aircraft but flew them as well. From 1935-1938 Howard Hughes broke most of the world's air speed records.

Howard Hughes had an intermittent association with director Howard Hawks and in 1940 they started work on The Outlaws. Hawks eventually quit and Hughes finished the film himself. It featured another Hughes discovery, Jane Russell.

In 1946 Howard Hughes was seriously injured in a plane crash and his eccentricity also started to increase. This idiosyncratic behaviour would lead to him becoming a total recluse in the sixties, conducting his massive business empire from hotel rooms.

Howard Hughes bought the Desert Inn in Las Vegas when they threatened to evict him.

Hughes bought RKO in 1947 and sold it in 1955. Because of his increasingly reclusiveness it is difficult to tell how involved he was with the RKO films.

By the time of his death on 5 April 1976, Hughes was worth a billion dollars.

There have been many attempts to capture the bizarre life of Howard Hughes. Most notably in 1971 Clifford Irving fooled publishers into thinking he had edited an autobiography of Howard Hughes based on hundreds of hours of interviews.

However, Hughes, emerged from his reclusive state to debunk the fraud. Irving served 17 months in jail.

Leonardo DiCaprio, who stars in The Aviator a film that focuses on Hughes's romances with Katherine Hepburn and Ava Gardner, his flying records and his fight with the censors over Jane Russell's cleavage, puts down the failure of other films to get off the ground to their obsession with the later years of Howard Hughes. DiCaprio told the Telegraph on December 4, 2004:

"...everyone has tried to focus on the older Howard Hughes, but it's not very cinematic because no matter how interesting he is, it's a man stuck in a hotel room for 15 tears with tissue boxes for shoes, talking on telephones."

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