Howard Hughes

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Howard Hughes : biography

24 December 1905 – 5 April 1976

Death

Howard Hughes’ gravestone Glenwood Cemetery]] Hughes was reported to have died on April 5, 1976, at 1:27 pm on board an aircraft owned by Robert Graf and piloted by Jeff Abrams, en route from his penthouse at the Acapulco Fairmont Princess Hotel in Mexico to the Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. Alternatively, other accounts indicate that he died in the flight from Freeport, Grand Bahama to Houston.Lisheron, Mark. Statesman.com, January 3, 2009. Retrieved: March 17, 2009. His reclusive activities (and possibly his drug use) made him practically unrecognizable; his hair, beard, fingernails and toenails were long (possibly caused by allodynia making him averse to touch), his tall 6 ft 1 in (185 cm) frame now weighed barely 90 lb (41 kg), and the FBI had to resort to fingerprints to identify the body.Hack 2002, pp. 16–18. Howard Hughes’ alias, John T. Conover, was used upon the arrival of his body at a morgue in Houston on the day of his death. There, his body was received by Dr. Jack Titus. hulu.com, via National Geographic Channel, Inside (series), Season 7, episode 2. Retrieved: September 24, 2009.

A subsequent autopsy noted kidney failure as the cause of death. Hughes was in extremely poor physical condition at the time of his death. He suffered from malnutrition. While his kidneys were damaged, his other internal organs, including his brain, were deemed perfectly healthy. X-rays revealed five broken-off hypodermic needles in the flesh of his arms. To inject codeine into his muscles, Hughes used glass syringes with metal needles that easily became detached. Phenacetin, a nonopioid acetaminophen prodrug that was used for chronic pain, may have been the cause of his kidney failure.

Hughes is buried in the Glenwood Cemetery in Houston, Texas, next to his parents.

Personal life

Hughes’ wife returned to Houston in 1929 and filed for divorce. Hughes dated many famous women, including Billie Dove, Bette Davis, Ava Gardner, Olivia de Havilland, Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers and Gene Tierney. He also proposed to Joan Fontaine several times, according to her autobiography No Bed of Roses. Bessie Love was a mistress during his first marriage. Jean Harlow accompanied him to the premiere of Hell’s Angels, but Noah Dietrich wrote many years later that the relationship was strictly professional, as Hughes apparently personally disliked Harlow. In his 1971 book, Howard: The Amazing Mr. Hughes, Dietrich said that Hughes genuinely liked and respected Jane Russell but never sought romantic involvement with her. According to Russell’s autobiography, however, Hughes once tried to bed her after a party. Russell (who was married at the time) refused him and Hughes promised it would never happen again. The two maintained a professional and private friendship for many years. Hughes remained good friends with Tierney who, after his failed attempts to seduce her, was quoted as saying "I don’t think Howard could love anything that did not have a motor in it." Later, when Tierney’s daughter Daria was born deaf and blind and with a severe learning disability, because of Tierney’s being exposed to rubella during her pregnancy, Hughes saw to it that Daria received the best medical care and paid all expenses.Tierney and Herskowitz 1978, p. 97.

On July 11, 1936, Hughes struck and killed a pedestrian named Gabriel S. Meyer with his car, at the corner of 3rd Street and Lorraine in Los Angeles. Chicago Tribune, July 12, 1936. Retrieved: December 13, 2009. Although Hughes was certified as sober at the hospital to which he was taken after the accident, an attending doctor made a note that Hughes had been drinking. A witness to the accident told police that Hughes was driving erratically and too fast, and that Meyer had been standing in the safety zone of a streetcar stop. Hughes was booked on suspicion of negligent homicide and held overnight in jail until his attorney, Neil McCarthy, obtained a writ of habeas corpus for his release pending a coroner’s inquest. Los Angeles Times, July 13, 1936. Retrieved: December 13, 2009. Chicago Tribune, July 12, 1936. Retrieved: December 13, 2009. By the time of the coroner’s inquiry, however, the witness had changed his story and claimed that Meyer had moved directly in front of Hughes’s car. Nancy Bayly (Watts), who was in the car with Hughes at the time of the accident, corroborates this version. On July 16, 1936, Hughes was held blameless by a coroner’s jury at the inquest into Meyer’s death. Los Angeles Times, July 13, 1936. Retrieved: December 13, 2009. Hughes told reporters outside the inquiry, "I was driving slowly and a man stepped out of the darkness in front of me."