Howard Hughes was an American serial entrepreneur born on December 24, 1905. Hughes might’ve been many things in his lifetime, but poor wasn’t one of them. He was a business magnate, pilot engineer, film producer, and philanthropist. Hughes gained fame for producing big-budget films like “The Racket” (1928), “Hell’s Angels” (1930), and of course, “Scarface” (1930). He was also known for founding the Hughes Aircraft Company in 1932, through which he set multiple world air-speed records. Hughes made significant contributions to aviation, movies, and real estate and is mainly responsible for Las Vegas’ transformation into a global metropolis. Hughes deserves to be acknowledged and celebrated on his birthday today!
Howard Robard Hughes Jr., born on December 24, 1905, in Houston, Texas, was an American business magnate whose involvement in multiple sectors earned him reverence. His parents were Allene Stone and Howard R. Hughes Sr., a successful inventor who founded the Hughes Tool Company in 1909. Hughes was of English, Welsh, and French Huguenot descent. He developed an interest in science and technology at a young age, and by age 11, he built Houston’s first wireless radio transmitter. Hughes attended Fessenden School, Massachusetts, and took some courses at Caltech. By 1924, Hughes’ parents passed away, and his father had willed 75% of his wealth to him.
In 1926, Hughes financed and produced his first film, “Swell Hogan,” which was so much of a disaster that he ordered it to be destroyed. He then directed “Everybody’s Acting” (1926) and “Arabian Knights” (1927), which did well. The latter won the Academy Award for ‘Best Director of a Comedy Picture.’ In 1930, he spent $3.5 million to make “Hell’s Angels,” which received an Academy Award nomination for ‘Best Cinematography.’ He also produced “Scarface” (1932). That year, Hughes founded the Hughes Aircraft Company. He set many world air-speed records, like completing a flight worldwide in 91 hours in July 1938. Hughes and his crew earned the Collier Trophy for this and the Harmon Trophy for record-breaking global circumnavigation.
By 1944, Hughes purchased 78% of Trans World Airlines and even an Aerospace company. Still a movie producer, he bought R.K.O. Pictures for nearly $24 million in 1954 and sold his Trans World Airlines shares in 1966 for $546.5 million. Hughes began acting on his real estate interests, and in 1968, The Hughes Tool Company purchased the North Las Vegas Air Terminal. In 1972, he created the Howard Hughes Corporation. He refused to vacate his hotel room at the Desert Inn and bought the hotel instead in Las Vegas. Hughes put forward over $300 million in developing Las Vegas. He was instrumental in changing the city’s Wild West reputation to a refined cosmopolitan city.
Hughes was an extremely wealthy business magnate, which meant his personal life was public knowledge. In June 1925, Hughes married Ella Botts Rice. They got divorced in 1929. He dated many famous women, from Joan Crawford to Bette Davis, and Katharine Hepburn. He married Jean Peters in 1957, but they divorced in 1971. Hughes died on April 5, 1976, onboard an aircraft. He had no children and his fortune was divided among his 22 relatives, aides, charities, and former lovers.
Hughes produces “Swell Hogan,” which is a disaster.
Hughes founds the Hughes Aircraft Company.
Hughes completes a flight around the world in 91 hours.
After owning 78% of Trans World Airlines shares, Hughes sells them for $546.5 million.
Why We Love Howard Hughes
He was a philanthropist
Hughes founded the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He donated to countless charities and medical research laboratories.
He was multi-talented
As a producer, director and pilot, Hughes was very talented. He set world records and won several awards for his ingenuity.
He was a business magnate
Hughes owned several successful businesses that made him a billionaire. He was very hardworking.
5 Surprising Facts
He had O.C.D.
Hughes had obsessive-compulsive disorder.
He struck a pedestrian
Hughes struck and killed a pedestrian in an automobile accident.
His first flying lesson
Hughes had his first flying lesson at 14.
He worked undercover
Hughes worked undercover for American Airlines before he got discovered.
He was in several plane crashes
Hughes survived four plane crashes.
Howard Hughes FAQs
How did Howard Hughes die?
Hughes died from kidney failure.
Was Howard Hughes the world's richest man?
Hughes amassed a vast fortune worth $1.5 billion, or $6.74 billion in today’s money. From the 1960s until the 1980s, he overtook J.P. Morgan and H.L. Hunt, two oil tycoons, to become the wealthiest man in America.
Did Howard Hughes have syphilis?
A large portion of Hughes’ bizarre behavior at the end of his life has been attributed by contemporary biographers to the tertiary stage of syphilis, which he had also contracted as a young man. Small blisters that appeared on his hands initially indicated the presence of the disease.
Howard Hughes’s birthday dates