Howard Hughes

December 24, 1905 – April 5, 1976

Hoo boy. Settle in.

Howard Hughes Jr. was a lot of things. I mean, a LOT of things.

Howard Hughes was a businessman. At the age of 18, young Howard inherited the Hughes Tool Company when his father died. Hughes would use the Tool Company to foray into many successful ventures over the course of his lifetime ranging from real estate to medical research.

Howard Hughes was a film producer. In the 1940s, he gained control of RKO Pictures (as well as its subsidiaries). Under his watch, RKO produced early classic films like Hell’s Angels, The Front Page and the original Scarface. At RKO, Hughes also weeded out the “communists” just for good measure.

Howard Hughes was a real estate mogul. While staying at the Desert Inn in Las Vegas, the ever-eccentric Hughes was once asked to vacate. Instead of leaving his room, he bought the hotel. Then, he bought half a dozen other Vegas hotels and became one of the most powerful men in Sin City.

Howard Hughes was a pilot. Perhaps no one area defines Howard Hughes quite as thoroughly as his love for and involvement in aerospace technology. He loved to fly. He loved to fly fast. He crashed 4 times – including the 1946 near-fatal crash of his experimental XF-11 military aircraft. Though this crash caused him lifelong pain, he continued undeterred. He founded Hughes Aircraft Company where he famously manufactured and flew the legendary H-4 Hercules “flying boat” colloquially known as the “Spruce Goose.” Hughes Aircraft would go on to develop a number of advancements in commercial, military and space flight technology. Just for kicks, he also bought Trans World Airlines (TWA) and started his own commercial airline.

Howard Hughes was a medical researcher. He founded a medical institute and pioneered research in genetics and other biomedical fields. He creatively funneled money from his other businesses into medical research. Sometimes this caused lawsuits. He always won.

Howard Hughes was something of a playboy. He was romantically linked to a veritable who’s-who of Hollywood starlets including – but certainly not limited to – Rita Hayworth, Ava Gardner, Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Olivia de Havilland, Mamie Van Doren and Janet Leigh. He also maintained close platonic relationships with actresses like Jane Russell and Gene Tierney. He married twice, most notably, to actress Jean Peters.

Howard Hughes, as previously mentioned, was eccentric. He also suffered from pretty extreme obsessive compulsive disorder. As his health declined and his chronic pain intensified, he became more and more reclusive and locked himself away in screening rooms or hotel penthouses for weeks and months at a time, only communicating with his aides via memos. He spent the last years of his life in a hotel in the Bahamas.

Howard Hughes was Howard Hughes. And he was all the good and the bad and the madness and the chaos that came with it.

On a private flight from Mexico to Texas in April of 1976, a frail, barely recognizable Hughes died of kidney failure. An iconic American life had come to an end. He was buried next to his parents in Houston.


Glenwood Cemetery – Houston, TX

Specific Location

Oakdale; Enter the cemetery and make your way past the office toward the right. Go down the hill to where the Oakdale section is on your right. Pass the large, ornate, hillside monuments and stop when you see twin angel statues flanking a staircase in front of you to your left. On your right is a gated plot with a padlock on it. This is the Hughes plot.


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