TYCOONS: The Secret Life of Howard Hughes

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> After he went abroad in 1970, he no longer watched television, so he no longer knew what day it was, or sometimes even the month or season. His main amusement was watching movies. He liked any kind of plane picture except Waldo Pepper. He thought The Blue Max was great. Hughes bought prints of all the James Bond pictures, but he liked only the ones with Sean Connery. Other favorites were The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Clansman and The High Commissioner. His main favorite was Ice Station Zebra, the story of a U.S.Soviet confrontation on the North Pole. He saw it at least 150 times. When his spirits were high, he sang aloud time and time again the lyrics of that jazz hit, Hey-Baba-Rebop. He drank only Poland mineral water bottled at the spring in Maine. It had to be in quarts—he refused to drink water from pint bottles. His Flying Dutchman-like wanderings from country to country cost him an estimated $ 150 million per year.

>Stewart and Margulis concede that Hughes first created his penthouse prison of his own volition. But they imply that the aides and doctors made no attempts to persuade him to change a way of life in which he was literally wasting to death.

The men who run Hughes' Summa Corp., his aides, and his doctors may issue denials and rebuttals (those whom TIME sought to interview for their version either refused to talk or failed to return phone calls). It is true that they were dealing with a capricious, iron-willed man. They may argue that they were only obeying orders: Hughes wanted to live in utter privacy, away from the bedevilments of process servers and litigious lawyers hoping to cash in on his billions. He wanted, they may contend, protection from the prying press, which Hughes loathed with a passion. He also wanted isolation from the bacteria-filled world. Hughes was obsessed by a fear of contamination from other humans. Secretaries who typed memos that were to go to Hughes were ordered to wear white gloves while hunting and pecking. Whenever Hughes was lifted, he would place a Kleenex—"insulation," he called it—on the palm of the right hand with which he gripped the person who carried him.

Much of the uncovering of Hughes' past is going to take place in courts of law. At last count, 14 lawsuits were outstanding against Hughes and his wholly owned firm, the Summa Corp., which was founded in 1972 as an umbrella company for his many enterprises.

By far the most interesting cases focus on the vast estate he left behind, estimated as high as $2.3 billion. Hughes left no authenticated will—or at least none so far has been found. Although 30 or so purported wills have surfaced, most have been immediately dismissed as fakes or humorous hoaxes.

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