Dirt Nap City

Who Was Howard Hughes?

February 29, 2024 Dirt Nap City Season 3 Episode 42
Dirt Nap City
Who Was Howard Hughes?
Dirt Nap City Council
We are looking for leaders on the Dirt Nap City Council.
Starting at $3/month
Support
Show Notes Transcript

One of the greatest industrialists of the 20th century, Howard Hughes was a man who built his own fame and fortune on the shoulders of his father's company. Yet while his father had been in the oil drilling business, Howard Hughes Jr had ambitions in much sexier industries - Hollywood movies, aviation, real estate, mining, casinos, and even a Houston based brewery called "Gulf Brewing Company" to capitalize on the end of prohibition.
But despite his fame, Howard Hughes was not the business genius that many thought he was. His projects often lost money, missed deadlines or just never happened. He also struggled with mental and physical ailments that drove him to a life of secrecy and seclusion later in life. He was a truly fascinating character and we go deep into his life and legacy in this episode.

If you like the content we are creating and would like to support it financially, check our Patreon page here: https://www.patreon.com/DirtNapCityPodcast

Or, if you prefer to support us in another way, recommend an episode to one of your friends. We appreciate everyone who listens every month and look forward to making this podcast even better with your support.

Support the show

Dirt Nap City is the show about interesting dead people.
Subscribe and listen to learn about people you've heard of, but don't know much about.
Someday we'll all live in Dirt Nap City, so you should probably go ahead and meet the neighbors!

Kelly:

Hello, everybody. Welcome to another episode of the amazing podcast about interesting hosts Kelly, and I'm here with my buddy Alex. How you doing Alex?

Alex:

Hey man, right out the gate with amazing that's nice.

Kelly:

This is one of the things I actually truly enjoy doing here in 2024 is recording podcasts is still there. What would you say? Yeah,

Alex:

and I don't think modesty helps anybody.

Kelly:

And you know, unlike people like Siskel and Ebert, we actually do get along behind the scenes. aggressive stuff on one another. Sure,

Alex:

Siegfried and Roy, Siskel and Ebert

Kelly:

Shields and Yarnell. Yeah,

Alex:

you always threatened to do see Siegfried and Roy is one of the episodes one of these days

Kelly:

I thought actually when you did Siskel and Ebert I kind of thought that maybe was who it was and Roy,

Alex:

I'll just tell you right now, I'm never gonna do Siegfried and Roy so your that lane is

Kelly:

all right. I appreciate that. Are you ever gonna do shields in your now?

Alex:

I may. I might. Yeah, I bet. Less than five people listening. No shields and Yarnell are

Kelly:

well G-T-S, everybody, Google that stuff. Today, I have kind of taken my taken my big my big into your lane, the man of the 20th century. He was actually born in Houston, Texas, and died near people of the 20th century, probably back until about the 70s or 80s, but still has a big because his father had invented something that made a lot of money. But he didn't necessarily totally different direction. But he didn't just sit around with his father's money. When his own. And really pioneered a couple of a couple of different industries and became well known as a have the Midas

Alex:

touch. Is this person known as a Texan? Yeah, yeah, I

Kelly:

think so. I mean, no, that's not really his identity. You know, it wasn't like a big cowboy most people knew he was from from Texas.

Alex:

Said started a couple of different industries, not just company

Kelly:

didn't start, sorry. Started in a couple of different industries, established industries. As a passionate about, were pretty sexy. They were things that people actually really liked. Like one

Alex:

Okay. Are you talking about Howard Hughes? I

Kelly:

am. Wow. Well done.

Alex:

We were it's funny because I think off the air we were talking about how interesting recluse

Kelly:

yeah. When you said that I had to kind of bite my tongue because he was a wreck loose. And

Alex:

that is the tricky thing, because you were talking about interesting dead people. Of course, often went weeks or months without doing anything right. Later in life. Oh,

Kelly:

oh, yes. But still, there was so much going on so much going on. Even when he was a wreck just his company, because he was in so many different things. From that recklessness. He had that would, you know, give him messages, put phone calls through, get people on the phone for him. He when you hear about someone in prison, calling on a hit and getting someone killed outside of in prison. It was almost like that. He could make things happen outside of his four walls, even and didn't see anybody didn't shower, didn't cut his nails or his hair. didn't wear clothes a lot

Alex:

Well, I can't wait to hear about this. But you know, you say this is my lane. I think this is I've learned that you are interested in are these kind of big, these titans, these big titans of people that are powerful, and run a lot of stuff and a little quirky. So I think this fits right in

Kelly:

That was what I was referencing more was just a man of the 20th century because he was 1976. So born actually on Christmas Eve 1905. In Houston, Texas, died in 1976, on an airplane Houston. But there is some debate whether he made it or not. His father was also named Howard talking about his middle name, his middle name.

Alex:

No is Vivian?

Kelly:

Robard. Okay, I was close - ROBARD. And a lot of times, people refer to him as HRH a lot of Hughes, Jr, was the only child of Elena stone Gano and Howard R Hughes senior who were from Missouri Hughes senior actually invented the two cone roller drillbit in 1909. Now, can you imagine what like these two cones with little teeth on them that are at an angle, and they kind of run cones. That was big innovation back then. Because when the oil boom happened, there were a lot of sand would clog up the bits or the rock was too tough to get through. Well, when Howard Hughes SR immediately allowed them to drill in places they couldn't before. And he had the good sense the rent it lease it to people

Alex:

that when money keeps coming in pretty

Kelly:

much everyone in the drilling industry. And we've talked about oil barons, you know, back to rent this thing from from the Hughes Tool Company, he was actually very good at tinkering at the age of 11, he built a wireless radio transmitter. He was one of the first licensed ham callsign was W five c y, which I have no idea what that means. But that was his callsign in nine and and put into the newspaper. And because he had built a motorized bicycle, he had taken a steam know, early electric bike, early bicycle, I guess. And then when he was 14, he started taking flying started taking flying lessons. But you know, his childhood despite having money and parents that disservice by his mother, at least according to the biography. She gave him a lot of attention in sickness as a way to get attention. And to even I don't want to say fake sickness, but you know, attention from his mother, which later translated into other things. So

Alex:

he did this to get attention not to get out of school unnecessarily, not Ferris Bueller style. attention. Probably

Kelly:

a little bit of both, right? He was like, okay, I can either go to school, or I can stay know, and he did love ice cream. He loved milk and ice cream. He was a big fan of both those things. golf later in life because he kept crashing airplanes and like, got pretty, like physically even at a young age, he was a little bit of one and I think there was some phobias in his family mean insects. But it got worse as he got older. I mean, that was actually part of his being a wreck outside world. Well, unfortunately, his mother died in 1922 and his father died. Two years later, company, he was he was his father was having a board meeting or a company meeting. And he keeled the way, actually the will had been written. Originally to go, everything to go to the mother all ended up going to Howard Hughes, basically, he and he inherited 75% of the family fortune at the emancipated minor, which meant that he didn't have to have a guardian, because a lot of times without guardian until you're 21. Well, he was able to go to court and get a judge to declare him an adult. other family members that still had some of the family fortune, like he had inherited 75% of it. members. And that was millions, right? Oh, yeah, millions of dollars. The Hughes Tool Company, tool bit, this drill bit that they had. And it just, you know, they kept coming up with things stuff like that. They became very specialized. And basically, that was the way that he was able to company was so successful, he could take the money from that and put it poured into other things. But involved at all in the US Tool Company until later in life at a young age. He actually withdrew from Houston, after his father's death. And then on June 1, he married Ella Botts rice. And she's the Houston, and the niece of William Marsh rice, for whom Rice University is named.

Alex:

So he dropped out of rice, and then married a rice. Yeah,

Kelly:

they moved to Los Angeles, he and Ella Botts rice, and he was going to be a filmmaker. bit telling of his personality, you know, even though he was shy, and, and later in life, he was him, he looks for admiration. He looks for validation from what people thought about him, and really sexy career, right to be a movie producer, director, flying airplanes, very sexy career, you these things he was into later in life, all stuff that really made him look like a sort of big man

Alex:

So when you say he wanted to be a movie maker, do you mean to finance? Or do you mean on write movies, all

Kelly:

of the above except the writing part. So he actually his first movie that he was involved in of all, they moved into the Ambassador Hotel, he spent a lot of times living in hotels, like that or the entire top floor, and they moved to LA lived in the Ambassador Hotel. And at that time, started working on his first film, it's not known whether or not he, you know, to your question put the money up. There's some debate about this film, whether he directed it or whether he just starred a man named Ralph graves. And it was it was here's the here's the it was called swell comedy about a Bowery bum who helps orphans, I mean, yes. Yes, a sentimental comedy. I mean,

Alex:

is this a talking picture? Yeah. Is this a ton of silent,

Kelly:

silent, silent movies, he started in silent. What happened is this guy, Ralph Graves, put up $40,000 Well ended up taking $80,000 to make the movie. And when it was finished, Hughes a disaster, and actually showed it to his uncle. I forgot to mention this is father's brother Rupert lived in Hollywood. And that might have been his inspiration. But he shared it to his uncle who actually rumored that Howard Hughes had all of the film destroyed. So I don't think you'll be able to

Alex:

And I'll bet the bar wasn't super high to be a good movie back then, either. I mean, this is mean, it probably wasn't that hard to make a decent movie. If

Kelly:

you could play the piano, you know, the sort of Joplin style piano,

Alex:

then you were good. And for a family member to tell you that it sucked. It must have really

Kelly:

but But you know, one of the one of the key takeaways from that is the budget that he instead of $40,000, he spent $80,000. And this was a reoccurring thing that happened throughout his everybody thought he was because he didn't really care about profits. He had this fountain of money would throw money at things without care for whether they actually returned a profit or not. It success versus real success. Hmm.

Alex:

So that's tell me more about that. That's interesting thing you just said. He

Kelly:

also had a big phobia and resentment for taxes. And one of the interesting things the from Houston when he was like, 1920 years old. And, and basically lived most of the rest of his a bit in Latin America. It later in life, he still always claimed to live in Texas. You know, why? tax. He didn't want to pay. Yeah, he basically claimed to be a Texan, but rarely came back to Houston. But he did. He did claim to be a Texan.

Alex:

So when you say he would throw money at throw money at things, even if they weren't worth Is that Is there any probably

Kelly:

probably I think there's definitely some parallels between him and several several rich continued, let me give you another example. He made a couple of more films and actually did acting. It was done in 1926. One was called to Arabian Nights 1927. Both of those were Arabian Nights actually won the Academy Award for Best Director of a comedy, which was a big deal. 1931, he did one called the front page. And those were also nominated but didn't win Academy Awards. as a director. Unfortunately, his wife wasn't digging it. She he didn't spend a lot of time with know, supposedly carousing with starlets and such. And so she moved back to Houston in 1929. And money at things. So in 1930, there was a movie he made called Hells Angels. And it was a World War think they used like almost 100 airplanes in this in this film. There were there were cases where one person was killed. One pilot was killed during the making of this. Howard Hughes himself was in camera. He was a very hands on guy, by the way. Like when he did movies, he directed he ran the did aviation, he test flew all of his own planes. Like he didn't let other people do that. He wanted to have all the fun? Well, during this film, several planes crashed, including one that he was fairly easily in a field like a farmer's field. And so he walked away from that, but he ended up before the the other movie swell Hogan, he ended up spending $80,000, which was double the budget. went over so big or over budget so much besides all the airplanes, a couple of reasons. Number one with how the scenes looked, because the planes look like they were going slow. Well, the reason there's no point of reference to show anything behind them. Right? You're panning the camera to still, if you keep the camera in the center of the frame, he reshot those scenes with clouds. So he another place in California, where there were clouds. wait several days for the right amount of every day, you're not filming you're paying for the all the airplanes, all the pilots all the that. But then what really jacked up the budget on that was that was right when talkies started being thing was finally put together, because it took several years for them to put it together. He silent movie, when the next big thing was, was people talking to movies. So he actually paid to effects and made it into a talkie. But by had to reshoot everything where people were talking,

Alex:

Oh, see, this is what rich people do, though. They're not constrained by anything. So it pay off. And sometimes they don't. Sometimes you're you're doubling the budget of things, and This is what's fascinating.

Kelly:

100% his MO. So that film Hells Angels did receive an Academy Award for the Best I mean, fine. Doing cinematography in an airplane, doing camera work in an airplane at the time was this movie, and it was pretty, pretty good.

Alex:

I mean, this is 90 years ago. We're talking right? I mean, this is a long time ago.

Kelly:

Yeah, this is this was coming up on 100 Pretty soon. So he did a few more films. He did the Chicago gang lens. That film actually got a lot of press and actually ended up being pretty much debate about the censorship of it. The censors at the time, thought it glorified making him reshoot re edit some scenes, and then add a prologue at the beginning, condemning thank

Alex:

We've talked before about the different sensor laws that they had back then. What movies

Kelly:

called the Hayes. Hey, Zach. Hey, Zack. Yeah, so anyway, he directed one called the outlaw Holliday. And it had Jane Russell as the leading lady. She played real MacDonald. Well, he so first do PR. He was very good at that. So for Scarface, for example, he took advantage of all the of all censors, to build, build intrigue. Well, he did the same thing. Except with Jane Russell. He was angles, to make her to accentuate her know what people wanted to see. Yeah, I mean, she was she the way some of those shots were looking. And he actually engineered a bra, a special bra. One of took some metal rods and bent them and had his team affixed them to her bra, so that they would he wanted to lift and squeeze Jane Russell so that she could look even sexier. Well, that worked, you hit. And Jane Russell said later, believe me he could design airplanes. But But Mr. Playtex he

Alex:

And I probably wouldn't care. By the

Kelly:

way. He was doing movies and airplanes at the same time. So I'm kind of going through the minute. He dated women like Joan Crawford, Billy dove, Betty Davis, Ava Gardner, Katharine Hepburn, Tierney, who I'm not sure who that is. But there was a there was a quote about that Gene Tierney said, I don't think Howard could love anything that didn't have a motor in it. So she kind of But yeah, he always had a beautiful starlet on his arm sometimes as a as an actual date as a romantic professional thing, like if they were in one of his films, there were several people that said, things because I was in his film. But he had this way of sending out these contracts to young women years of women on his payroll, that would go to acting lessons, they would take diction lessons, of keep them in reserve if he wanted to make a movie. Now, again, this wasn't a money making vanity, I suppose probably, you know, to woo some of these women, you know, hey, do you want to be a seriously. But he never used a lot of those women in films. They were just kind of people that he these lessons, but they never ended up being in a movie. And again, another sort of really bad people on your payroll that you that you're not even going to ever have in a film?

Alex:

And in some ways, kind of set the tone probably for Hollywood?

Kelly:

Yeah, definitely. You know, it's interesting. He came to Hollywood, Hollywood was really wanted to set the tone for Las Vegas. So we'll talk about that in a minute. But kind of RKO Pictures in 1948. So that was one of the big five studios in Hollywood's Golden Age. But within employees, he dropped the production schedule, he shut down production for six months so that he leanings of every employee. He wanted to make sure that they weren't communists, or, you know, to go in and clean house and slow everything down and micromanage a lot of stuff. To the point where profitable. You know, they had gone from making 30 pictures every year to nine. And in 1957. It

Alex:

Wow, they just went into music at that point, I think because I think they had a record

Kelly:

They had they had movie theaters, they had a record label, they had radio stations, they had may have kind of dwindled down to one thing. But basically, it was another one of those losing studio.

Alex:

Sounds like his paranoia was also a part of the soul.

Kelly:

Mix. Yeah, he felt like he had to micromanage everything. He he kind of made movies called the jet pilot. And he also had an interesting thing he did right after Prohibition. prohibition had happened somewhere in the early 1920s. I wasn't sure the dates Do you know, the four years? 13 years? Oh, no kidding. 1920 1933

Alex:

I think every time I learned this, I'm surprised and then I learned it again. And I'm

Kelly:

Yeah. And it's it is interesting, because you think about the roaring 20s. You know, being and it was all. Yeah, I guess maybe that's part of why it was roaring. Right. But yeah, at the end of Depression hit when things started to get kind of bad. He ended up starting a brewery in Houston, on they had land in Houston. And it was called Gulf brewing. Did you heard of that? No. I've never called Grand Prize. He brought in a master brewer from Europe to be the master brewer and ran this don't know if he made money on the deal or not. But I thought it was kind of cool. I actually went old. They had a pretty cool logo, the Gulf brewing did. And their grand prize logo was kind of cool, on it that says Houston, Texas.

Alex:

It didn't look like the Gulf gas station. No,

Kelly:

no, no, it was totally different company but Gulf brewing. But

Alex:

it that's not around. And that mean that wasn't around when we were coming?

Kelly:

No, no, I think it I think it you know, stopped sometime maybe in the 70s 60s I'm not of prohibition when he founded it. So but it was a smart actually a smart business. decision because the dip, you know, even during financial depressions, Americans still spend a lot of money those little small luxuries that aren't super expensive. People still treat themselves to they buy those small, smaller shirts, and especially if it helps them forget their troubles.

Alex:

We saw that during COVID, right? Yeah, yeah. In

Kelly:

1957, he remarried to a woman named Jean Peters. She was an actress. They had met in the it said that Peters was the only woman that Howard Hughes ever loved. But it was kind of a weird married, they lived in the Beverly Hills Hotel. And they had separate bungalows for a long time know, you're my husband, I want to live with you. And so they started buying houses, they lived in a in separate rooms. And apparently, he was becoming more of a germaphobe more of a recluse at that room, because it would stir up dust. So rather than rather than stir up dust, he just have dust like storing his own urine in jars so that doctors could look at it if they needed to. And but you didn't. She put up with all that stuff. She loved him. Eventually, he ended up moving to Las Vegas and left without her and didn't see her for like three years, and then finally saw her. And then went back to LA back to LA while he was gone living in Vegas. And after years and years in That was like 14 years they were married. But she never spoke ill of him. You know, Jean Peters was, spoke poorly of him. She didn't die until the 90s. She was around for a while. But But yeah, he just

Alex:

Yeah, I can imagine.

Kelly:

In parallel during all this time, in 1932, he started the or formed the Hughes Aircraft contract for the government to be able to build planes for the government, you know, for military, did end up building getting a couple of government contracts. Even later in life, he had a government one of the airplanes he was going to build either had overruns in cost, or wasn't done in time for he he kind of he loved it. That was his passion. He loved to look at airplane, magazines. He loved and had a brain for it. He was very, very smart when it came to that sort of thing. He actually and was listed in flying magazine's 2013 list of heroes of aviation as number 25. Sure, well. But crashed for different airplanes for different airplane crashes survived all four.

Alex:

That's why it was only number 25 I

Kelly:

guess. Yeah, right. He would have been number number one, but he went down notches every was used when filming Hells Angels. And that was his first aircraft. That was the one I said was in what's

Alex:

did he have a camera? Like yes. Was he filming it?

Kelly:

I don't know if he was filming or if he was flying. It seemed more likely that he was probably but

Alex:

he might have been trying to do both. That's why he crashed.

Kelly:

That's that's exactly why you shouldn't text and drive kids. So he then crashed a racing airspeed record. That one was also in a field and minor, minor deal. He crashed one military plane goes with at Lake Mead and actually had a couple of people die in that crash, the plane sunk. It climbed out, and a couple of others, there were like four or five people in the plane at the time. them didn't, or something like that sunk to the bottom. He actually had the plane excavated from outside of Las Vegas, that is a deep big lake. Oh, yeah. And then he crashed into a house in in 1946. And that one, he got pretty severely injured. Basically, what happened is, he had a where people asked him, Why are you doing the testing? Why are you test flying the plane, and he all the fun. But it's very dangerous. And what happened is the the the flight plan called for him called the HQs XF 11. And it was something he had contracted to the government. He was supposed to ended up going over because he was trying to kind of show off in it and show that it could do more boundaries. When these government contracts happened, and they had flight testing, they were on the next flight, you would do more things on the next flight, you would do more things. Well, everything. And he ran out of fuel. He had problems with the landing gear, and one of the the propellers that caused that engine to lock up. So it was a it was a dual engine plane, two up. And so he was only flying with one thing. So there's a lot of drag in one direction. Oh my god, been the Beverly Hills Golf Course, or Hollywood golf course, you know, someone somewhere in LA house, hit the roof, fell to the ground, was able to climb out of the aircraft, had burns all over there was a man who actually was there. I think he was a military guy visiting his family who ran out away from it and kind of saved his life like, you know, carried him away. So you get medical that happened when he had started taking a lot of pain medications. And he

Alex:

was already he didn't it was already kind of strange to begin with. And you take someone like to it's not going to end well.

Kelly:

Yeah. And that that definitely didn't didn't help him in his recklessness. Now, a few actually become pretty famous. And you know, he hoped to use this fame as a way to build these why he got the contracts was because he was well respected. Hughes Aircraft Company was not a very manufacturing scale of like Lockheed or Boeing or something like that. And so bell like Bell up but his name gave him a lot of clout with these military contractors. And he knew how to wine and part of this fame had come from a couple of things. First of all, he said a land speed record crashed one of the planes was during setting this land speed record. He got up to like, I think it record had been under 300. And so he kind of shattered that airspeed record in a plane he plane that he built and designed. And then he also set a world record in 1938. By completing a trip around the world in 1938?

Alex:

Probably like 35 hours or something. Let

Kelly:

me tell you, let me tell you what the previous record was the previous record was 186

Alex:

Yeah, okay. Wow. Why do they post? No, I don't have any idea.

Kelly:

He did 91 hours, which was three days in 90 minutes. So he took off from New York went to he went to Alaska from Alaska. He went to I think, Minnesota, and I'm soda back to New York. Now he

Alex:

All right, and this is nonsense. I mean, you're stopping for fuel, but then you have to get Right? Correct.

Kelly:

They stopped and refueled and we're always in a big hurry. As a matter of fact, he kind of the stops. They had so many mobs of people around, because this is pretty this is big news and 1930. necessarily, like even take off safely. You know, they had to, like move people out of the way and of four people in a Lockheed 14 Super Electra aircraft. And he was world famous after that. As a Last time, he came to Houston, and he received awards. And in 1938, they renamed the William P

Alex:

was gonna say, I didn't know about that, because it's still hobby airport. Yeah,

Kelly:

yeah. Well, it was briefly Hughes airport, and then interesting. So President Truman gave him to be really famous. As far as his, you know, it's flying and kind of being, you know, one of the think about it, if you didn't know about the drugs, you didn't know about the weird habits, you and, and all these things weren't really happening yet during these during all these aircraft thing any of that about him, you just heard this guy who set lands or airspeed records, and flew around the was a, you know, a millionaire many times over and bought businesses and made movies. You think this

Alex:

Yeah, yeah. I mean, he reminds me, little portions of that remind me of a lot of the think, I think if you ask Jeff Bezos why he put himself in the rocket ship, he'd say, because I'm say almost verbatim. Yeah, say the same thing. Yeah, now Elon Musk would probably say the Yeah, those guys notice he didn't put himself in his rocket ship. So there's different ways to look person, those tendencies were the same then as they are 100 years later, just get to do whatever toys. They date all the starlets and yeah, yeah, it's interesting. So again,

Kelly:

he had these contracts with the government, the XF 11. The plane that he crashed into the side part partly influenced by Colonel Elliott Roosevelt, the son of the president at the time,

Alex:

always minor characters in our little story here, but always, always

Kelly:

characters, Elliott, Roosevelt was influenced by Hughes to give this contract to buy turn them into reconnaissance planes, they needed planes, three seat aircraft with two motors, and land and stuff like that. Well, all of that said, it never happened because they never got enough of there was another contract. So you're familiar with the U boats in World War Two, right? Germans, sitting off the coast, the East Coast of the United States, and they were sinking, freighters sinking our ships that were taking supplies across to Europe to our troops over there, to our allies became more and more common, I mean, to the point where they were starting to sink 20 3040 boats in war effort. So someone, it wasn't used, but it was immediately introduced to him. Thought about the over to Europe and they award Did Howard Hughes a contract to build what was called the h four, flying boat. And it was supposed to be big enough to carry, I think seven or 800 Troops, along with there was a weird thing going on, because at the time, there was not enough steel, and aluminum and shortage of these things. So Hughes had built one of his racing planes out of wood and had this together. He built the eight for Hercules completely out of wood, which was a completely

Alex:

Now you're talking about the Spruce Goose? Oh, no, he

Kelly:

hated that term.

Alex:

He hated that. This is the plane you're talking about. Right? Yes,

Kelly:

yes, that is it later became known as the Spruce Goose. There were a lot of derogatory names given because people, you know, thought it was like a big waste of money. Well, he was contracted to get three of them built. They had, you know, budget overages, just like normal problems with getting supplies. And he ended up not delivering any of them. The the, by the way, the Spruce Goose up not being able to deliver any of them. And because of this, there was actually a wasted, that, you know, people were mad, why did why did Howard Hughes get all this money and not board, congressional board to be questioned. And during the questioning, he actually was kind of thing will never fly. And he said, Yes, it will. He was able to get them after the war, when the able to get them to go ahead and pay to finish building one because the first one wasn't government to spend another, you know, they were already into it for millions of dollars. So they comparatively, we can build finish building this thing. And he kind of positioned it as learning because nothing like this had ever been built. This was the largest airplane ever made. With the football field more than 300 feet across. I mean, imagine this thing sitting on the UT football down zone past. Right. Eight storeys tall. The setting on the ground. It was eight stories tall. wings were thick enough that you could stand up. People could walk around inside the wings. They finish building it. And he was supposed to do some taxi tests out in what was it harbor in you and the coast in the water. At Long Beach. He was going to do some taxi tests. And the the press the plane. And he just went ahead and took off. And, you know, kind of said, hey, it does fly. waving his finger back at this congressional hearing to say I did build you a plane that flies. there were lots of problems. But I built a plane that flies. Only time that plane ever flew.

Alex:

So I visited the Spruce Goose and the Queen Mary and the Queen Mary in Long Beach.

Kelly:

Yeah, yeah.

Alex:

Have you ever been that to that? Have you ever had? I did yeah. It's it's I was probably too something. When I

Kelly:

went I think I was right around the same time for me. And I remember just thinking, that

Alex:

Yeah, I didn't even really process that. It was an airplane and it shouldn't be that big. but I remember going and visiting, visiting it. And it's interesting that you say he didn't like back then was the Spruce Goose. Yeah,

Kelly:

yeah. That's one of his most famous things that and but again, he called it the Hercules. Yeah, it was it was very much a. It was. A lot of people said that his problem was, he didn't treat hobbies. And because he had enough money, you know, from the Hughes Tool Company, he could kind

Alex:

And again, you see that today with billionaires, you know, that

Kelly:

the Hercules the Spruce Goose was actually moved to MC Mina Ville, Oregon, where there's a Museum. Oh, it's not Oregon? No, it's not they moved it in 2020. There was a lot of talk about using the lumber, or cutting it up and putting parts of it into different museums. The problem Right. You could put it in the Smithsonian, it was too big to go there. Right, right. And it had to place. As a matter of fact, for a long time before it was put in that dome, in Long Beach alongside tourism, before it was put in that dome. It had been an A, it had been in a climate controlled or the US aviation, one of them paid for over a million dollars a year. And it just sat there. anything. He just wouldn't let it go. He didn't want to destroy it. It didn't want it cut up. And was owned by the government. They had paid him for it. And so he didn't own it, but he didn't want to for $1 a year or something like that, with the understanding that he would take the cost of

Alex:

And I'm guessing he couldn't do that. It wasn't even on display until after he died.

Kelly:

I don't know because he died in 76. And yeah, I guess I was six and 76. So yeah, it's don't know when it ended up going to the Long Beach facility.

Alex:

I went there in like 8084, I think,

Kelly:

yeah, I was gonna say it was around that same time for me 8485, something like that. But put on display. He also I'm gonna go quickly through this, but he also was very involved in aircraft manufacturer or an airline, run an airline. Those were kind of two things he really primary shareholder and kind of Chief by default because of his shares of TWA, not and basically, shareholder, he could bully the CEO or the Presidents the the executives like he was able to able to get them hired and fired. And it didn't really make for a very healthy airline, TWA promising to buy jets. This was around the time when the fleet of airplanes was converting over lot of promises. And he really kind of ended up getting TWA in a lot of financial trouble because he was always undermining them. And he promised a lot of money to buy jets that TWA didn't have. As of us Tool Company to to pay for the Jets. And he ended up getting ousted by TWA, they, the board of takeover of his shares. But what's interesting is they wanted to get rid of him for a number of Hughes out of TWA. But he held on to the shares stubbornly kept doing bad things. And then shares. And because of the timing, pure dumb luck, when he bought them, they were fairly low. He And Eddie sold them earlier had he sold them, you know, that at first he wouldn't have made all that TWA Airlines for long time, did a lot of bad stuff to undermine them and make them unsuccessful, and then was told to shut up, step away. Stop being that way. And he did for a couple of years. share prices have gone way up. And he made half a half a billion dollars.

Alex:

You wonder what kind of person he would have been without the money? Because clearly with him having money. Every decision he made, kind of the recklessness that flying without a And his whole life, didn't have to ever have a backup plan. Could overspend for things, that kind was probably also, you know, he had good ideas maybe. And he was he, you know, he's an he would have been as interesting.

Kelly:

He got to the point where he had a staff, I think I said this earlier, he had a staff of the calls directly, it would go to his his staff. And then they would decide what was worth him take a message and he would call the person back. They never, they never like even the president and had to be, he had to make the call to them, you know. And so he got more and more isolated and problem. So and this was really, you know, he started when he was in California, and at the bungalows, kind of that's where he started to be a little bit weird and isolated. Eventually, he taxes, Las Vegas doesn't have state income tax, he didn't want to pay it. And he had been at odds like I'm out of here. went to Las Vegas. He was staying in the desert in which was at the time one the Brat Pack the Frank Sinatra's and, you know, those type of people all went to the Desert Inn, had bought up the entire top floor like he was renting it. Well, they actually wanted to kick him

Alex:

Because he wasn't hygenic? Or you said he wasn't showering? He was?

Kelly:

No, it wasn't gambling? Oh, okay.

Alex:

Because of the jars of piss that he had everywhere.

Kelly:

That, you know, as long as he was paying his bill that that probably didn't matter. But if staff was Mormon. He had a guy named William gay, who was his kind of Chief of Staff for many, many recruited other Mormons to be on the staff. And he felt he could trust Mormons. William gay did and didn't drink. And so to have an entire floor of a hotel taken up by people that aren't gambling, or hurts your revenue. And so that's why they wanted to kick him out. That's so get guess what he was fine, I'll buy the hotel. He ended up he bought the hotel, and he liked the idea of owning real bought other casinos. He bought television station, the local Las Vegas TV station. He bought And he eventually on the sands the frontier, the Silver Slipper castaways, the landmark Harold's biggest employer in all of Nevada. Wow. And, and during that time, though, he ran into a lot of of the hotels. And I'm fast forwarding through several years here. So while he was in Las Vegas, scrutiny for antitrust and just having a monopoly, like having too many. And there were a lot of He was really close with the governor. He was close with the newspaperman there who ran positive antitrust. He kept his aides and his advisors and his lawyers kept saying okay, don't buy any more of them, and you're going to be hit by, you know, the government's going to look into you and not because you have to have a license to run a gambling establishment. He didn't care. He just kept getting it approved, he greased the right palms gave bribes to the right people, and ended

Alex:

Pretty complicated, dude.

Kelly:

And there's a few more things I know, we're a little over time. But he also started the Howard have you heard of this charity? No. Some people say he started it because his parents had died at heart attacks and health and stuff like that. But what it really ended up being was this complicated and then put all of the shares of the Hughes Aircraft Company under the Medical Institute, or everything. And then he made himself the only board of director, the only board member or scheme. He put less than point 1% 1/10 of 1% into the medical research he said he was going to do Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and which was supposed to be a tax exempt charity, and was able institute that he got paid back with interest. And it was it was a big boondoggle that he did. I today. I didn't get a chance to look that up. But it was something that apparently a lot of lot of oversight into nonprofits at the time. And it was not, it was not an uncommon business started cracking down on it because they were losing a lot in taxes.

Alex:

I think you continue to show us that rich and powerful people from Henry the eighth to no one there to say no. And there's no everyone says your ideas all get implemented. You know,

Kelly:

well, that was the thing was was this this? The staff he had? They didn't say no, they allowed over his years. And, you know, they ended up having to sell the Hughes Tool Company, his his that kind of is around the time he lost. Lost control. Now, when they sold the Hughes Tool public company called Summa. And you're probably familiar with the term summa cum laude. Yeah. So hated the whole idea of it, he wanted it still be he wanted to call it high, HP, HB HRH properties, thought stood for Hughes resort hotels, that was his idea for it. But Suma was a money loser for a couple of companies. One in particular, his aircraft company, ended up becoming a very big Spruce Goose was a failure and the other military planes were failures. He they kept these military military, you're you're able to stay in with the military. Will. The you know, they ended up with you heard of Hughes Hughes net? It's a big internet provider. Yeah, that's that's from them

Alex:

into the satellite, satellite internet. As a matter of fact, they

Kelly:

were the ones that launched the early bird satellite in 1965. First communication satellite there was a big impact on aviation, because, like the Navy's F 14 Tomcat has weapons control systems control made by Hughes. The Army's anti tank missiles are made by Hughes. They have of course, like you said, they make inflight entertainment systems that make testing equipments, they make remember the digital watches before the Apple Watch, like some of the key equipment. So the well. But that was kind of after he quit running it. That was the key. As soon as he stopped ended up, you know, in his reclusive time, like I said, he didn't, didn't shave didn't they had supposedly, and he would have them clipped every so often. He was only 90 pounds. And he had he had He just sat in his room, took codeine took Valium, and watched movie reels that his staff would queue VCRs it's like 1966 to 1970. It's said that he took over 33,000 codeine tablets, oh my gosh, and constipation pretty badly. So he had to have an enema, like pretty often and his staff had to do I'm not exactly sure why he ended up moving to Nicaragua move he lived for a little while in know what this was this. This had to do with tax evasion. Like he was under investigation for tax to Vancouver, going to Nicaragua, there was a big earthquake. So he moved to Mexico, and the place in Mexico, where they thought he was going to die. So they got him on a plane coming back to to Houston. They say they had crossed the Rio Grande they that he died in Texas officially. But they brought him into the I think it was Methodist Hospital in Houston. They found out he had kidney ejected, injected with painkillers while he was passed out on the plane. And that might have been ever really investigated who did the injection or what was done for he had four doctors on his in bed sores. He had actually, glass. He had been using glass syringes with metal needles. And when broken off needles in his arm that had just been broken off. And we're still there that you know,

Alex:

said too many Yes, men. You know, what would be one way to get me to stop being a Yes, man an enema? Yeah, there was no Kelly, you

Kelly:

know, you know. Funny enough. The guy who gave him the enema. One of them. One of his chiefs Bill gay, John Holmes, and another guy named Woodcock on his staff. So all good Mormon guys. hour, because there's a whole thing about a fake autobiography that somebody claimed he had there was a whole thing with that. There was a whole thing with his estate, and a guy that will at the end of his life. And by the way, funny thing when he was 19, he actually, when his was when he came up with the idea for this medical, nonprofit, you know, to do medical wheel later in life that he worked on for years and years and years, and never finished and never or not. So when he died, this strange man showed up. And they call this the Mormon will. And it had to do with, like money going to its ex wives to his first cousin. The whole thing was a

Alex:

the whole made a movie about that call. It did Melvin Howard, was that. Yes,

Kelly:

yes. Yes, you're right. Yeah. Melvin dumar Is the guy that supposedly saved his life. And that segues nicely into sort of pop culture. There's a movie called The or TV now guess his loosed on loosely based on him. There was, you know James Bond diamonds are forever. No, are you billionaire Texan named Willard White, who was played by James Dean, who operates his business Tell me who that is. There was an episode in 1973 of the Partridge Family called called the episode was a reference to like, the character was based on Howard Hughes. There was the amazing Howard lieutenants Noah Dietrich, who he later had a falling out with Melvin and Howard 1980. The film character based on him. The Rocketeer had a episode that had to do with Howard Hughes watched with directed by Martin Scorsese, and with Leonardo DiCaprio, have you seen that movie?

Alex:

Yeah, it came. In fact, as you were talking throughout this episode, it was reminding me of 20 years ago, though, right? Yeah.

Kelly:

2004 Exactly. 20 years ago. Remember the remember the animated movie robots? Oh, yeah. It if it was Pixar or not. I didn't see it. But yeah, it was it was, you know, one of these like cars came out about things. Well, there was a character named Mr. Big weld that Mel Brooks voiced, and he And that was sort of based on Howard Hughes. Stan Lee said that Tony Stark was inspired by Howard reference Howard Hughes, one by Genesis one by Jim Croce, one by the band 10 CC, the Boomtown Rats, Hughes.

Alex:

It's definitely made a mark Denny. Yeah, yeah, pretty pretty.

Kelly:

Pretty amazing. How many songs

Alex:

do you think most of those songs and most of those pop culture references have to do with him

Kelly:

I think it's mostly weird record reckless because because the songs are like working at the Howard Hughes and blue suede shoes smiling at the major at smokin Winston cigarettes. Some of the Melody of 1974

Alex:

kind of people. People gravitate towards him being a weirdo. And

Kelly:

then, you know, some of my favorites here he was his he had a character based on him on the of course, the Beverly Hillbillies. The Clampett Hughes empire where Jed Clampett while in man, Mr. Drysdale believes as Howard Hughes, the famous but reclusive billionaire, eventually it no billionaire. He's an old farmer named Howard Hughes spelled h e w ES.

Alex:

Yeah, I remember that episode. Actually. You do. Yeah.

Kelly:

I am Howard Hughes,

Alex:

because that's the that's the crossover with Green Acres. Ah,

Kelly:

okay. Okay. Green Acres is the place for me.

Alex:

You don't want to get me started on 60 sitcoms. We'll be here all day.

Kelly:

Phineas and Ferb had one where they set out to build a plane bigger than the Spruce Goose. If the classic of all times the Simpsons had an episode where basically Mr. Burns was styled to be Spruce Goose to spruce moose.

Alex:

And also 90 pounds, six to 90 pounds, I think. Yeah,

Kelly:

yeah, with bedsores and naked a lot of the time. So yeah, he was buried next to his parents to go check out his tombstone sometime. Let's do it. Red Brick House where he lived as a teenager and it's on the grounds of the University of St. Thomas.

Alex:

So if we left the Dirt Nasty city state kicker on that gravesite? Would that be

Kelly:

That'd be rock and roll.

Alex:

Would that be something that he would do?

Kelly:

He'd have his people do it. Yeah. So what do you need to do is you need to get you to get they're fans, right? Sure.

Alex:

And I remember you suggesting we saw a picture of, of Shackleton scrape site. Yeah,

Kelly:

that's right. With your parents or your parents friends.

Alex:

Yeah, we should put a dirt nap city sticker on that grave site. So maybe that's what we'll do various grave sites. And if you can take a picture of one we'll send you a little something special.

Kelly:

And that's going to be a sign of respect, not vandalism. Yes, we're doing this out of

Alex:

But also we didn't do it. If if you're seeing one we we didn't do it. Our fans didn't.

Kelly:

I didn't even mention the fact that he was tied to Watergate. And he was and there's so many done another hour so sorry for going too long. But Howard Hughes ladies and gentlemen,

Alex:

nice job. Thanks for waking you up