Howard Hughes

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Howard Hughes : biography

24 December 1905 – 5 April 1976

On January 12, 1957, Hughes married actress Jean Peters. The couple met in the 1940s, before Peters became a film actress.The Delta Democrat-Times (Greenville, Mississippi), September 29, 1946, p.4. They had a highly publicized romance in 1947 and there was talk of marriage, but she said she could not combine it with her career."Interview with Louella Parsons." Waterloo Daily Courier (Waterloo, Iowa), October 12, 1947, p. 19. It was later claimed that Peters was "the only woman [Hughes] ever loved",Anderson, Jack with Les Whitten. "Hughes and Jean Peters." The Gadsden Times, April 13, 1976, p. 4. and he reportedly had his security officers follow her everywhere even when they were not in a relationship. This was confirmed by actor Max Showalter, who became a close friend of Peters during shooting of Niagara (1953).Weaver 2004, p. 9. Showalter told in an interview that because he frequently met with Peters, Hughes’ men threatened to ruin his career if he did not leave her alone.

Early years

Hughes’ birthplace is recorded as either Humble or Houston, Texas. The date is also uncertain, though Hughes claimed his birthday was Christmas Eve. A 1941 affidavit birth certificate of Hughes signed by his aunt Annette Gano Lummis and Estelle Boughton Sharp states he was born on December 24, 1905, in Harris County, Texas. However, his baptismal record of October 7, 1906, in the parish register of St. John’s Episcopal Church, in Keokuk, Iowa, has his birth listed as September 24, 1905, without reference to the place of birth.

His parents were Allene Stone Gano (a descendant of Owen Tudor, second husband of Catherine of Valois, Dowager Queen of England)Tombo do Guarda-Mór Guarda-Mór-Edição de Publicações Multimédia, Lda Lisboa, 2000. Geneall.net, December 24, 1905. Retrieved: March 17, 2009. and Howard R. Hughes, Sr. from Missouri of English descent,Barlett and Steele 2004, p. 15. who patented the two-cone roller bit, which allowed rotary drilling for petroleum in previously inaccessible places. Howard R. Hughes Sr. made the shrewd and lucrative decision to commercialize the invention by leasing the bits instead of selling them, and founded the Hughes Tool Company in 1909.

Showing great aptitude in engineering at an early age, Hughes built Houston’s first radio transmitter when he was 11 years old. MSN Encarta online, October 21, 2009. Retrieved: January 5, 2008. At 12, Hughes was photographed in the local newspaper, identified as being the first boy in Houston to have a "motorized" bicycle, which he had built himself from parts taken from his father’s steam engine. U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission, 2003. Retrieved: January 5, 2008. He was an indifferent student with a liking for mathematics, flying, and things mechanical, taking his first flying lesson at 14 and later auditing math and aeronautical engineering courses at Caltech.

Allene Hughes died in March 1922 from complications of an ectopic pregnancy. In January 1924, Howard Hughes Sr. died of a heart attack. Their deaths apparently inspired Hughes to include the creation of a medical research laboratory in his will that he signed in 1925, at age 19. Because Howard Sr.’s will had not been updated since Allene’s death, Hughes inherited 75 percent of the family fortune. about.com. Retrieved: January 5, 2008. On his 19th birthday, Hughes was declared an emancipated minor, enabling him to take full control of his legacy. golfonline.com. Retrieved: September 4, 2007.

Hughes was an excellent and enthusiastic golfer from a young age, often scoring near par figures, and held a handicap of three during his twenties. He played frequently with top players, including Gene Sarazen.Barkow 1986, p. 13. Hughes rarely played competitively, and gradually gave up his interest in the sport.

Hughes dropped out of Rice University shortly after his father’s death. On June 1, 1925, he married Ella Botts Rice, daughter of David Rice and Martha Lawson Botts of Houston, Texas. They moved to Los Angeles, where he hoped to make a name for himself making movies.