Profile of Howard Hughes
Although an expert flyer, Hughes suffered
Hello, I'm Michael Sanchez, for About.com. Today we'll be learning about American aviation tycoon, film producer and philanthropist Howard Hughes.Howard Hughes was born in Texas in 1905 and at a young age showed a great voracity for building machines. By the time Hughes was 18, both of his parents had died, leaving him the majority of the family fortune and making him a millionaire in the process.At 19, he bought the remaining company shares from his relatives and took control of the family tool business. Later that year he married Houston socialite Ella Rice and moved to California to make a name for himself in Hollywood.Hughes' first few films proved greatly successful, earning Oscar nominations and even an award for his second film, Two Arabian Knights. He went on to produce more than 25 films over the next 30 years including classics like Scarface, Hell's Angels and The Outlaw starring Jane Russell.Ella Rice filed for divorce from Hughes in 1929, freeing to date many of Hollywoods leading ladies, including Bette Davis, Ava Gardner and Katharine Hepburn. As a boy, Hughes had a passion for aviation and even took flying lessons as a teenager. In 1932 he launched Hughes Aircraft, becoming a key figure in the development and advancement of the science of flight. In 1935, Howard Hughes set a new air speed record of 352 mph at the controls of the H-1 Racer, a plane he commissioned and helped design.Hughes spent the rest of the 1930s breaking both transcontinental and international aviation records with flights from Los Angeles to Newark, NJ in just 7 and a half hours and a trip around the world in only 91 hours. Although an expert flyer, Hughes suffered two major crashes during his lifetime, the first in 1943 while flying over Lake Mead near Las Vegas. The crash killed two onboard and left Hughes with a serious head wound. The second mishap took place in 1946 while flying over Los Angeles, resulting in a shattered collar bone, collapsed lung and various third-degree burns. Following his 1946 recovery, Hughes' health declined as he struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder and an addiction to codeine, which he used to cope with chronic pain leftover from his multiple injuries.Once one of Americas most public figures, Hughes seemingly vanished from the public eye often spending months holed up alone in hotel rooms in cities like London, Boston, Vancouver, Acapulco, and always insisting on the penthouse. Once in Las Vegas, when a hotel threatened to evict him, the billionaire simply purchased it. On April 5th 1976, Howard Hughes died of kidney failure due to malnutrition on board an aircraft en route to a hospital in Houston.Thanks for watching.