April 5, 2017

Howard Hughes ~ a strange life

1905 ~ 1976

Howard Robard Hughes Jr. died over forty years ago today on April 5, 1976. He was an American entrepreneur, known during his lifetime as one of the most financially successful individuals in the world. He first made a name for himself as a film producer, and then became an influential figure in the aviation industry. Later in life, he became known for his eccentric behavior and reclusive lifestyle, oddities that were caused in part by a worsening obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) and chronic pain from a plane crash. 

The Odd Beginning

The birthplace of Howard Robard Hughes Jr. is recorded as either Humble or Houston, Texas. The date remains uncertain due to conflicting dates from various sources. He repeatedly claimed that his birthday was on Christmas Eve. A 1941 affidavit birth certificate of Hughes that was signed by his aunt Annette Gano Lummis and Estelle Boughton Sharp states that he was born on December 24, 1905, in Harris County, Texas. However, his certificate of baptism recorded on October 7, 1906, in the parish register of St. John's Episcopal Church in Keokuk, Iowa, listed his birth as September 24, 1905 without any reference to the place of birth.       

At a young age, Hughes demonstrated interest in science and technology. In particular, he had great engineering aptitude and built Houston's first "wireless" radio transmitter at age 11. He went on to be one of the first licensed ham radio operators in Houston, having the assigned call sign W5CY (originally 5CY). At 12, Hughes was photographed in the local newspaper, identified as being the first boy in Houston to have a "motorized" bicycle, which he had built from parts from his father's steam engine.

photographer unknown

The Bizarre End

In his final reclusive state, Hughes kept his urine stored in jars in his room and wore Kleenex boxes as slippers due to his crippling fear of germs. He also had a fear of radiation and pollution. During one reclusive stretch, Hughes lived for five months in a screening studio in Hollywood. During that time, he ate and drank exclusively Hershey Bars, pecans, and milk. One of his more odd obsessions was with peas: he would arrange them on his plate according to size.   

His appearance when he was found dead was extremely grotesque. He was covered in uncut, matted hair, had extremely long toenails, and the once strapping, 6′ 4″ man weighed only 90 pounds. 

Hughes Family grave site 
photographer unknown

 Time magazine cover
 July 19, 1948

"Money can't buy happiness."
                                        ~ Howard Robard Hughes Jr. 

Net links:    
Howard Hughes ~ Odd Behavior          
The Awkward Sideways Hug                  
Howard Hughes germ phobia             
In Memoriam            

Styrous® ~ Wednesday, April 5, 2017       

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