Howard Hughes, a mysterious and elusive billionaire who, before his eccentric ways, was once a genius business magnate famed for his outstanding accomplishments as an investor, aerospace engineer, aviator, film maker and philanthropist. Hughes turned his large inheritance into one of the largest empires in the history of corporate America.
Hughes was born to a wealthy family on 24th December 1905 in Houston, Texas. He lost both his parents in his teenage that left him a fortune of close to one million dollars. Hughes turned this money into a 75 million dollar enterprise within five years. Because of his dislike for administrative works, he hired an accountant who looked after all business affairs of Hughes Tools Co. Hughes had plenty of time to pursue his other interests. At 21, he produced his first two films ‘Everybody’s Acting’ (1927) and ‘Two Arabian Knights’ (1928) that were huge successes and the latter won an Academy Award for Best Director. His other films ‘The Racket’ (1928) and ‘The Front Page’, were also Academy Award nominees. Other classics by Hughes include ‘Hell’s Angels’ and ‘Scarface’.
Aviation was another one of Hughes passions so he took a temporary break from the film industry to follow it. He founded a company ‘Hughes Aircraft Co.’ that built an aircraft designed to fulfill Hughes dream of making a record aircraft speed. The ground breaking Hughes H-1 racer did the job in 1965 and set a record of 352 mph. Hughes also made a record of flying from Burbank, to California, Newark and New Jersey in his H-1 in only 7 hours and 28 minutes. In 1938 he flew around the world in the Lockheed Model 14 in 3 days, 19 hours and 8 minutes. Even though this was a record time, Hughes wanted to do more so that he could outpace the other aircraft companies. For that he bought a controlling interest in Trans World Airline (TWA) and started to make aircrafts for the military. Along with this he decided to re-enter movie making with his film ‘The Outlaw’ that caused a stir in the censors who banned the film. When Hughes did get permission to release it, he made the clever move of waiting two years. This made the movie increasingly popular and the film ended up making millions.
In 1946, Hughes went through a dreadful accident. He was testing a new plane when it lost control and crashed in the ground. Hughes broke nearly all bones in his body even though he did eventually recover physically, the psychological effect of the crash left him impaired. He became addicted to the codeine that was used to diminish the pain in his body. His behavior became stranger by the day so much so that he was denied any business deals. He developed obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, paranoid schizophrenia and a fear of germs because of the injuries in his brain. He went into hiding as his conditions worsened. Hughes died in 1976 leaving behind an estate of 2 billion dollars that was distributed among cousins because of the absence of a proper will.