On this day in 1976, aviator, engineer, industrialist, film producer, director, philanthropist, and once one of the wealthiest people in the world, Howard Hughes died from kidney failure aboard an airplance bound for Houston, Texas, at the age of 70. Born Howard Robard Hughes, Jr. probably on 24 September 1905 in Humble, Texas. His father patented the two-cone roller bit, which allowed rotary drilling for petroleum in previously inaccessible places and founded the Hughes Tool Company. Hughes took full control of the business when he was 19 following his father’s death. His most notable films inlcude the flying film Hell’s Angels (1930), Scarface (1932), and The Outlaw (1943), which featured Jane Russell. Hughes dated many famous women, including Bette Davis, Ava Gardner, Olivia de Havilland, Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Jean Peters, Terry Moore and Gene Tierney. He also proposed to Joan Fontaine several times. In 1932 Hughes founded Hughes Aircraft Company, which became a major American aerospace and defense contractor, as a division of Hughes Tool Company. Hughes was one of the most influential aviators in history; he set multiple world air-speed records, built the Hughes H-1 Racer and H-4 “Hercules” (better known to history as the “Spruce Goose”) aircraft, and acquired and expanded Trans World Airlines which would later on merge with American Airlines. In 1953, Hughes founded the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) 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 gave all his stock in the Hughes Aircraft Company to the institute, which would sell the compnay to General Motors in 1985 for $5 billion. HHMI is one of the wealthiest medical research foundations in the world. In 1966, Hughes moved into the Desert Inn in Las Vegas. He wound up purchasing other hotels/casinos such as the Castaways, New Frontier, The Landmark Hotel and Casino, the Sands and the Silver Slipper. Hughes was married two or three times; Ella Rice (1925-1929 divorce), Terry Moore (1949-1976 his death) (alledged), and Jean Peters (1957-1971 divorce). The Final Footprint – Hughes is interred in the Hughes private estate with his parents in Glenwood Cemetery in Houston. One of my offices in Houston overlooked Glenwood. Hughes has been portayed in film by Tommy Lee Jones in The Amazing Howard Hughes (1977) and by Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator (2004). The latter was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, winning five. Other notable Final Footprints at Glenwood include; Maria Franklin Prentiss Langham Gable, Oveta Culp Hobby, William P. Hobby, Anson Jones, Glenn McCarthy and Gene Tierney.
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