Howard Hughes

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Howard Hughes : biography

24 December 1905 – 5 April 1976

As an owner of several major businesses in Las Vegas, Hughes wielded enormous political and economic influence in Nevada and elsewhere. During the 1960s and early 1970s, Hughes disapproved of the underground nuclear testing taking place at the Nevada Test Site. Hughes was concerned about the risk posed by the residual nuclear radiation from the tests, and so attempted to halt the tests. When the tests finally went through despite Hughes’ efforts, the detonations were powerful enough that the entire hotel in which he was staying trembled with the shock waves.Vartabedian, Ralph. latimes, June 28, 2009. Retrieved: July 25, 2009. In two separate, last-ditch maneuvers, Hughes instructed his representatives to offer million-dollar bribes to both presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon.Carlson, Michael. "Obituary: Robert Maheu: FBI agent and CIA fixer who became Howard Hughes’s bagman." The Guardian, August 20, 2008, p. 33.

In 1970, Jean Peters filed for divorce; the two had not lived together for many years. Peters requested a lifetime alimony payment of US$70,000 a year, adjusted for inflation, and waived all claims to Hughes’ estate. Hughes offered her a settlement of over a million dollars, but she declined it. Hughes did not insist upon a confidentiality agreement from Peters as a condition of the divorce; aides reported that Hughes never spoke ill of her. She refused to discuss her life with Hughes and declined several lucrative offers from publishers and biographers. Peters would state only that she had not seen Hughes for several years before their divorce and had only dealt with him by phone.

Hughes was living in the Intercontinental Hotel near Lake Managua in Nicaragua, seeking privacy and security,Mallin, Jay. when a magnitude 6.5 earthquake damaged Managua in December 1972. As a precaution, Hughes moved to the Nicaraguan National Palace and stayed there as a guest of Anastasio Somoza Debayle before leaving for Florida on a private jet the following day. Channel 4. Retrieved: January 5, 2008. He subsequently moved into the Penthouse at the Xanadu Princess Resort on Grand Bahama Island, which he had recently purchased. He lived almost exclusively in the penthouse of the Xanadu Beach Resort & Marina for the last four years of his life. Hughes had spent a total of US$300 million on his many properties in Las Vegas.

Memoir hoax

In 1972, author Clifford Irving created a media sensation when he claimed to have co-written an authorized autobiography of Hughes. Hughes was such a reclusive figure that he did not immediately publicly refute Irving’s statement, leading many people to believe Irving’s book was a genuine autobiography. Before the book’s publication, however, Hughes finally denounced Irving in a teleconference and the entire project was eventually exposed as a hoax. Irving was later convicted of fraud and spent 17 months in prison. In 1974, the Orson Welles film F for Fake included a section dealing with the entire Hughes biography hoax. In 1977, The Hoax by Clifford Irving was published in Great Britain; it is the story of these events. The 2007 film The Hoax, starring Richard Gere, is based on these events.Irving 1999 pp. 3–309.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute

In 1953, Hughes launched the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Miami, Florida, and currently located in Chevy Chase, Maryland, formed with the express goal of basic biomedical research, including trying to understand, in Hughes’ words, the "genesis of life itself." Hughes’ first will, which he signed in 1925 at the age of 19, stipulated that a portion of his estate should be used to create a medical institute bearing his name.Brown and Broeske 1996, p. 34. When a major battle with the IRS loomed ahead, Hughes gave all his stock in the Hughes Aircraft Company to the institute, thereby turning the aerospace and defense contractor into a for-profit entity of a fully tax-exempt charity. Hughes’ internist, Dr. Verne Mason, who treated Hughes after his 1946 aircraft crash, was chairman of the institute’s medical advisory committee."Dr. Verne Mason. Miami Physician. Howard Hughes aide dies. Also treated Pershing." The New York Times, November 17, 1965. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s new board of trustees sold Hughes Aircraft in 1985 to General Motors for US$5.2 billion, allowing the institute to grow dramatically.