HOWARD HUGHES BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY:
Howard Robard Hughes, Jr., was a multi-millionaire businessman with aviator, airline owner, film director and producer, as well as numerous other titles on his resume. The Renaissance man was born on September 24, 1905 in Humble, Texas to Howard Robard Hughes, the establisher of the Sharp-Hughes Tool Company, which held the patent for the drill bit. Growing up he was surrounded by wealth, but he still failed to find an interest in school, instead having curiosity towards all things mechanical. In fact, at age twelve he was featured in a Houston newspaper for building his very own motorcycle. Soon after, his mother and father passed away (1922 and 1924). A year after his father died in 1924, Hughes dropped out of Rice University. At only nineteen years of age, he fled to Hollywood with his new wife, Ella Rice.
The couple spent some time with his uncle, Rupert, who happened to be a screenwriter. Hughes soon became captivated by movie making and in 1926, formed his production company, Caddo Productions. After only producing two films, “Everybody’s Acting” (1926) and “Swell Hogan” (1926), the latter not even getting released, he turned out “Two Arabian Nights” (1927). It was so successful that it won the Best Director for a Comedy Academy Award. He also put out two more movies that were nominated for an Oscar, “The Racket” (1928) starring Thomas Meighan, Marie Prevost, Louis Wolheim and George E. Stone and “The Front Page” (1931) starring Adolphe Menjou, Pat O'Brien and Edward Everett Horton.
In 1930, Hughes produced, wrote, as well as spent a staggering $3.8 million on “Hell’s Angels” starring Jean Harlow and Ben Lyon. For this picture, he bought eighty seven World War I fighter planes and employed the world’s most prestigeous pilots. He additionally also got to indulge in his interest in flying, as he obtained his pilot’s license. While the feature lost $1.5 million, it was a major success and remains one of Hughes’ most celebrated works. Hughes produced another great hit, “Scarface” (1932) starring Paul Muni, George Raft, Ann Dvorak and Boris Karloff. This movie, however, contained such violent content that it was censored until the producer sued to get it released. Today, though, it is known as one of the greatest gangster movies ever.
After “Scarface”, he took a break from the cinema to explore his love of aviation. Apparently he was good at it, for he broke multiple flying records. During this time he also, unfortunately, suffered a traumatic event, for he struck and killed a pedestrian named Gabriel Meyer on Wilshire Boulevard. He was never charged, but his recklessness was one of the first signals of his mental decline.
In 1943, Hughes returned to the screen with “The Outlaw”. It quickly became controversial due to its sexually explicit advertising and star Jane Russell’s conspicuous cleavage. He then produced “Behind the Rising Sun” (1943) starring Tom Neal, J. Carrol Naish and Robert Ryan and “The Sin of Harold Diddlebock” (1947) starring Harold Lloyd, Rudy Vallee, Edgar Kennedy and Franklin Pangborn, before buying the RKO movie studio, which he owned from 1948 until 1955.
His most famous aircraft, the Hercules (nicknamed "The Spruce Goose"), was an oversized wooden seaplane designed to carry 750 passengers, but flew only once over a distance of one mile on November 2, 1947.
In the 1950's it became increasingly apparent that Hughes was displaying signs of mental illness. He was obsessive compulsive, reclusive, and highly germophobic. The producer was, not surprisingly, diagnosed with neurosyphilis, a venereal disease that affects the brain. He did still however, manage to produce over ten movies in the 1950's, the most he had made in any decade. Some of his ventures of this time include “Vendetta” (1950) starring Faith Domergue, Hillary Brooke and Nigel Bruce, “Two Tickets to Broadway” (1951) starring Tony Martin, Janet Leigh, Eddie Bracken and Gloria DeHaven, "The Las Vegas Story" (1952) starring Victor Mature and Jane Russell, “Louisiana Territory” (1953), and the last of his films, “Jet Pilot” (1957) starring John Wayne and Janet Leigh.
Into the ‘60's, Hughes mental decline increased, although he continued with business project upon business project while remaining isolated in various hotel suites. Also, consistently he had been taking painkillers for the multiple crash injuries he had sustained while flying. On April 5, 1976, he overdosed on these pills while in his Acapulco, Mexico hotel room. He was flown to a hospital nearby in Texas, but died on the flight. His official cause of death was marked as kidney failure. Hughes left an estate that was estimated to be worth $2 billion. To this day he still remains a mystery, but audiences everywhere are happy that, while eccentric, he managed to produce some great films.
He was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal on August 7, 1939 in recognition of the achievements of Howard Hughes in advancing the science of aviation and thus bringing great credit to his country throughout the world. He should have received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his achievements and contributions to the film industry however to date it has not happened.
The Aviator (2004) starring Leonardo DiCaprio, the movie based on his life, was released on the day after what would have been his 99th birthday.
Tommy Lee Jones portrayed him in "The Amazing Howard Hughes" (1977).
1957 Jet Pilot
1956 The Conqueror
1955 Son of Sinbad
1953 The French Line
1953 Louisiana Territory
1953 Second Chance
1952 The Las Vegas Story
1951 Two Tickets to Broadway
1951 The Whip Hand
1951 His Kind of Woman
1950 The Tattooed Stranger
1947 The Sin of Harold Diddlebock
1943 Behind the Rising Sun
1943 The Outlaw
1932 Sky Devils
1932 Cock of the Air
1931 The Age for Love
1931 The Front Page
1930 Hell's Angels
1928 The Mating Call
1928 The Racket
1927 Two Arabian Knights
1926 Swell Hogan
1926 Everybody’s Acting