Howard Hughes

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Howard Hughes : biography

24 December 1905 – 5 April 1976

In 1956, Hughes placed an order for 63 Convair 880s for TWA at a cost of US$400 million. Although Hughes was extremely wealthy at this time, outside creditors demanded that Hughes relinquish control of TWA in return for providing the money. In 1960, Hughes was ultimately forced out of TWA, although he owned 78% of the company and battled to regain control.

Before Hughes’ removal, the TWA jet financing issue precipitated the end of Hughes’ relationship with Noah Dietrich. Dietrich claimed Hughes developed a plan by which Hughes Tool Company profits were to be inflated in order to sell the company for a windfall that would pay the bills for the 880s. Dietrich agreed to go to Texas to implement the plan on the condition that Hughes agreed to a capital gains arrangement he had long promised Dietrich. When Hughes balked, Dietrich resigned immediately. "Noah," Dietrich quoted Hughes as replying, "I cannot exist without you!" Dietrich stood firm and eventually had to sue to retrieve personal possessions from his office after Hughes ordered it locked.

In 1966, Hughes was forced by a U.S. federal court to sell his shares in TWA because of concerns over conflict of interest between his ownership of both TWA and Hughes Aircraft. The sale of his TWA shares netted him a profit of US$547 million. During the 1970s, Hughes went back into the airline business, buying the airline Air West and renaming it Hughes Airwest.

Las Vegas baron and recluse

The wealthy and aging Howard Hughes, accompanied by his entourage of personal aides, began moving from one hotel to another, always taking up residence in the top floor penthouse. During the last ten years of his life, from 1966 to 1976, Hughes lived in hotels in Beverly Hills, Boston, Las Vegas, Nassau, Freeport, Vancouver, Vancourier.com. Retrieved: March 17, 2009. London, Managua, Acapulco, and others.

On November 24, 1966 (Thanksgiving Day),Levitan, Corey. Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved: March 3, 2008. Hughes arrived in Las Vegas by railroad car and moved into the Desert Inn. Because he refused to leave the hotel, and to avoid further conflicts with the owners, Hughes bought the Desert Inn in early 1967. The hotel’s eighth floor became the nerve center of his empire and the ninth-floor penthouse became Hughes’ personal residence. Between 1966 and 1968, Hughes bought several other hotels/casinos such as the Castaways, New Frontier, the Landmark Hotel and Casino, and the Sands. He bought the small Silver Slipper casino only to reposition the hotel’s trademark neon silver slipper, visible from Hughes’ bedroom, which apparently had been keeping him up at night. An unusual incident marked an earlier Hughes connection to Las Vegas: during his 1954 engagement at the Last Frontier hotel in Las Vegas, flamboyant entertainer Liberace mistook Howard Hughes for his lighting director, instructing him to instantly bring up a blue light should he start to play Clair de lune. Hughes nodded in compliance. Then the hotel’s entertainment director arrived to properly introduce Hughes to Liberace.Thomas 1987, p. 41.

Hughes wanted to change the image of Las Vegas to something more glamorous than it was. As Hughes wrote in a memo to an aide, "I like to think of Las Vegas in terms of a well-dressed man in a dinner jacket and a beautifully jeweled and furred female getting out of an expensive car." Hughes bought several local television stations (including KLAS-TV).

Hughes’ considerable business holdings were overseen by a small panel unofficially dubbed "The Mormon Mafia" because of the many Latter-day Saints on the committee, led by Frank William Gay. Time. Retrieved: January 5, 2008. In addition to supervising day-to-day business operations and Hughes’ health, they also went to great pains to satisfy Hughes’ every whim. Hughes once became fond of Baskin-Robbins’ Banana Ripple ice cream, so his aides sought to secure a bulk shipment for him—only to discover that Baskin-Robbins had discontinued the flavor. They put in a request for the smallest amount the company could provide for a special order, 200 gallons (750 L), and had it shipped from Los Angeles. A few days after the order arrived, Hughes announced he was tired of Banana Ripple and wanted only Chocolate Marshmallow ice cream. The Desert Inn ended up distributing free Banana Ripple ice cream to casino customers for a year. In a 1996 interview, ex–Howard Hughes communicator Robert Maheu said "There is a rumor that there is still some Banana Ripple ice cream left in the freezer. It is most likely true."