Howard Robard Hughes Jr. was an American business magnate, investor, record-setting pilot, film director, and philanthropist, known during his lifetime as one of the most financially successful individuals in the world. Take a look below for 30 more shocking and interesting facts about Howard Hughes.
1. He first made a name for himself as a film producer, and then became an influential figure in the aviation industry.
2. Later in life, he became known for his eccentric behavior and reclusive lifestyle, oddities that were caused in part by a worsening OCD, chronic pain from several plane crashes and increasing deafness.
3. As a maverick film tycoon, Hughes gained prominence in Hollywood beginning in the late 1920s, when he produced big-budget and often controversial films such as The Racket, Hell’s Angels, and Scarface.
4. Hughes formed the Hughes Aircraft Company in 1932, hiring numerous engineering and designers.
5. He spent the rest of the 1930s and much of the 1940s setting multiple world air speed records and building the Hughes H-1 Racer and H-4 Hercules.
6. He acquired and expanded Trans World Airlines and later acquired Air West, renaming it Hughes Airwest.
7. Hughes was included in Flying Magazine’s list of the 51 Heroes of Aviation, ranked at number 25.
8. Today, his legacy is maintained through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Howard Hughes Corporation.
9. He was born Howard Robard Hughes Jr. on September 24th, 1905, in Humble, Texas, to Howard R. Hughes Sr., and Allene Stone Gano.
10. His father was a successful inventor.
11. Howard developed an interest in technology and science while he was a child.
12. He was one of the first ham radio operators to be licensed in Houston.
13. He was the first boy in Houston to have a motorized bike.
14. Howard began taking flying lessons when he was only 14 years old.
15. He attended California Technical School and went on to have a successful career in engineering, filmmaking and as a pilot.
16. Howard’s parents died before he was an adult and he inherited 75% of their estate.
17. Howard attended Rice University in the 1920s, but dropped out to pursue movie making.
18. Hughes developed a reputation as a playboy in Hollywood and was known to date Ginger Rogers, Ava Gardner and Katherine Hepburn.
19. Hughes took chances with his flying endeavors and tested aircraft and even set speed records in the 1930s.
20. He circumnavigated the globe in 1938 with a four man crew, setting a new record with a time of 3 days, 19 hours, and 17 minutes. There was a ticker tape parade in New York City and celebrations around the United States for his accomplishment.
21. Hughes was credited with developing the first retractable landing gear.
22. Hughes built a very large wooden sea plane, which was nicknamed the Spruce Goose by the press. It was an H-4 Hercules that Hughes was contracted to build by the United States government. He later had to testify before Congress because of its expense. He flew it only once to prove that it could fly.
23. The Spruce Goose is kept in the Evergreen Aviation Museum in Oregon today.
24. In 1946, Hughes was involved in a terrible plane crash. After the accident, he became a recluse.
25. In 1948, Hughes became part of RKO Pictures, but because of the plane crash, he never even visited the studio.
26. He lived on the top floor of a hotel in Las Vegas in the 1960s, but then moved abroad.
27. A supposed authorized biography about Hughes was released in 1972, but the author Clifford Irving was found to be lying. He later served time for fraud.
28. Hughes died on April 5, 1976, and an autopsy later concluded that the cause of death was kidney failure. He was severely malnourished.
29. He was laid to rest at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston, Texas, next to his mother and father.
30. Hughes net worth at the time of his death was $1.5 billion, which would be well over $6 billion today.