The Older Howard Hughes

This man has always intrigued me. A reclusive billionaire who ran an empire from a darkened suite.

What a fascinating man. In his life, he was a busy man. He got his fortune from his father developing a drill bit called the Sharp–Hughes Drill Bit for drilling oil. Howard was very talented himself. He was a producer, part owner in RKO, playboy, aviator and much more. He started his own aircraft company and worked with the government developing World War II military aircraft.

He had an airplane crash in 1946 and after that, he started to become a recluse. This is where it started to go downhill for Hughes. Not only was he deathly afraid of germs but he also had OCD. He showed signs of this for years but it gradually got worse.

in 1966 he arrived in Las Vegas and stayed at in the penthouse of the Desert Inn. The management wanted him out because he was not a high roller. So what did Howard do? He bought the Desert Inn.  Afterward, he went on a Vegas buying spree, snapping up other hotel-casinos, an airport, and airline and various tracts of undeveloped land. He stayed in the hotel during this. He did not venture out of his room.

He loved movies but there were no all-night tv stations at that time. So again what did he do? He bought a television station and made them an all-night station and they played the movies he wanted to see…a very expensive VCR.

Hughes employed key aides who belonged to the Church of Latter Day Saints. Mormons were prohibited from doing two things he did not do—drink alcohol and smoke. He was afraid of germs and had long rules on how to do certain things that his aides had to follow.

To open a can, a memo, for example, was over a thousand words…and included newspapers and 2 bars of soap….to break it down..Step 1: “Preparation of Table.” Step 2: “Procuring of Fruit Can.” Step 3: “Washing of Can.” Step 4: “Drying the Can.” Step 5: “Processing the Hands.” Step 6: “Opening the Can.” Step 7: “Removing Fruit from Can.” Step 8: “Fallout Rules While Around Can.” Step 9: “Conclusion of Operation.”

Flyswatters would be banned because they could stir up the air and recycle germs that were lying dormant in the air conditioner system. His aides had to catch flies with kleenex. He also made his aides to wash their hands multiple times and use paper towels while bringing him his food. The ironic thing is he lived in his own filth hardly ever taking a bath or brushing his teeth. It is said he thought “outside” germs were bad but his own germs were evidently ok.

One of his right-hand men who carried out his orders was former CIA and FBI agent Robert Maheu… Robert worked for Hughes from 1955 to 1970 and he never met Hughes face to face…only communicating over the phone and through written messages.

His last 30 years of life he was addicted to codeine because of injuries from the 1946 crash. There were rumors that he would wear Kleenex boxes on his feet and never cut his finger and toenails. He left Las Vegas in 1970. Some say it was because of nuclear testing in the desert and others say he was being investigated by the government.

Howard did help change Las Vegas to more corporate-owned casinos, thinning out the Mafia element. He died in 1976 of renal failure while on a plane to Texas.

This is supposedly Howard in 1961

howard2.jpg

Author: badfinger20

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

15 thoughts on “The Older Howard Hughes”

  1. Don’t know if you have seen the movie The Hoax about Clifford Irving and his book where he claimed to have interviewed Hughes etc.. good movie. Hughes was surely a fascinating figure from those times- the richest man in the world and a total nut case towards the end.

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    1. He really was… Yes I saw the movie and liked it. I’ve read a couple of books about him and one by Robert Maheu that was good… but yes a nut case. I thought about him again when I found a seventies button I bought years ago… “Will the real Howard Hughes stand up?”

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      1. From what I read he always had it…his mom was was constantly worrying about him having a disease. The key point is when that plane crash happened in 1946. It seemed to really come out after that.
        I should have done a better job on the blog and covered his career also. He was a brilliant man… I did read where he treated his employees…the regular ones great. Paid for health insurance, meals and paid them well. He knew a happy employee produces more.

        An interesting man to say the least…I should have went into the Spruce Goose… I love the television story though…

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  2. Intriguing for sure. I wonder how differently things would have turned out for him if he’d had the intervention and treatment in childhood that’s available today. After seeing The Aviator, I read a biography on him. He was a relentless innovator, with a haunting life story.

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    1. He really was…my blog didn’t do him justice. I should have added his career but I just went over the relusive period of his life…In the shape he was in and running basically an empire and fighting with the goverment over nuclear testing and TWA…

      I do wonder what would have happened like you said…if he would have had help.

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  3. I remember seeing news clips about the Spruce Goose. I did not see the point in building it if it was only going to fly a few feet above the water and only for like a minute or so. They had to be afraid it would fall apart made out of wood.

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  4. I’m also fascinated by him, though haven’t read any books about him (maybe I should, maybe I shouldn’t!) but my interest is because, while mine is mild in comparison with the average OCD sufferer’s, and certainly nothing like Hughes’, I have OCD. I read something today that has actually helped me a bit – as I’ve been overwashing my hands since the Coronavirus started in the world – a way to differentiate normal washing in these bad times and obsessive washing. That said, after washing my hands once, I then washed them again!! (At least I can laugh about it. Most people with OCD can’t.)

    I wonder if the plane crash trauma brought on his OCD or if he’d always had it and it just made it worse? I think part of it is hereditary – possibly not the actual actions of it, but a tendency to have ones thoughts go into loop, in which it’s difficult or impossible to break free from the repetition. While he had a good reason to wash his hands often, as he was a doctor, my dad really washed his hands and nails far more than he needed to, to the extent that his nails ended up quite deformed. And he had some kind of obsession about how his books were arranged, or things on a table. So there’s probably more to it than just a mental illness, there may be a hereditary element to it. It’d be interesting to know what Hughes’ parents and grandparents were like.

    Have you read ‘Here’s the deal (don’t touch me)’ by Howie Mandel? Its his autobiography. It’s both funny and quite shocking, as he has OCD and problems living with it and yet he’s also a comedian.

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    1. I’ve watched Howie Mandel but haven’t read his book. Seems like I did see a special on him and him having that difficulty.

      I think Hughes had the OCD and the Plane esculated sky high. It’s interesting he ran his businesses from a dirty hotel room. Wanted to see a movie? But a TV station.

      I’m lucky about that. I’ve never had it too bad. Sometimes I have to tap something an even about of times. I don’t realize I’m doing it until it’s done.

      Wow that is a lot of washing to affect his nails. Him being a Doctor probably made it worse. Knowing so much about germs etc…it would probably get to you.

      When I was at work during this I washed my hands at a crazy pace. At home not as much since nothing is being brought in. I still wash them though.

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      1. It’s probably in our natures to overdo things, the difference is that with someone with ocd, thoughts are on loop, so it’s difficult to see fact from fiction (the looping thoughts being the fiction).

        I think if I worked in a food or medical environment I’d probably wash my hands away!

        The thing of Hughes living in filth is that probably he had a kind of mental block on peripheries and an obsession with specifics. Mandel, for instance, is obsessed with his hands getting dirty from touching other people’s hands, but he can touch the floor with them okay, and he ‘fist bumps’ as greeting. Or did, before the Coronavirus started.

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      2. With Hughes he seemed to be ok with his filth just not others…of course that is flawed thinking.

        I’m going to look up that Mandel special I saw and re-watch it. I have time now Val. I think I told you but I work for a Restaurant Chain in IT…they just shut the restaurants down but I still have a job…all the executives still need help and I need to do maintenance from home.

        I had to let all of IT go except one because of this but they can come back when we are reopened. They can get unemployment but that is not a lot but something… I am one of the lucky ones.

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      3. Sounds like some good out of all the bad. Best of luck with it, Max. So many people are having to work from home. I gave a friend a link earlier today for a site I found for creatives (artists, musicians, actors, etc) whose shows have been cancelled, it’s to enable them to share their stuff online. So, out of all the horrible stuff, there is a lot of good, too.

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