Wednesday, Jun. 03, 2009

Howard Hughes

Howard Hughes had always been eccentric. The billionaire business mogul and aviator had obsessive-compulsive tendencies; once, during a movie shoot, he became so fixated on a flaw in one of Jane Russell's blouses that he designed a unique kind of underwire bra to fix the problem. But no one knew what to do when he finally cracked. In 1947, Hughes locked himself in a darkened screening room for four months, doing little more than eating chocolate bars, drinking milk and relieving himself into empty bottles. Later he moved from hotel penthouse to hotel penthouse; by 1950, he had gone into complete seclusion, refusing even to appear during antitrust hearings concerning Trans World Airlines, a company he controlled. Rumors began to circulate about the former Hollywood hobnobber's Valium addiction, cadaverous frame, scraggly beard and twisted fingernails. He never recovered, dying in self-imposed seclusion in 1976.

Read a TIME article from 1976 about Hughes.