The best-selling biographer of the Duchess of Windsor and Errol Flynn unveils the truth behind one of the most enigmatic personalities of the century. At last, the real story of the dazzling wealth, ruthless power, and seductive charms of Howard Hughes - a man the world has never fully known. While other biographers have revealed the building of Hughes's empire and some of his more infamous schemes of corruption, none until now has ever exposed the most compelling aspect of Hughes the man - his secret private ...
The best-selling biographer of the Duchess of Windsor and Errol Flynn unveils the truth behind one of the most enigmatic personalities of the century. At last, the real story of the dazzling wealth, ruthless power, and seductive charms of Howard Hughes - a man the world has never fully known. While other biographers have revealed the building of Hughes's empire and some of his more infamous schemes of corruption, none until now has ever exposed the most compelling aspect of Hughes the man - his secret private life. Behind the facade of success, money, and excitement - from daring aviation feats, scandalous movie-making, and often erratic investing - Howard Hughes was a profoundly disturbed man, torn between his love for women and his heretofore secret homosexuality. He manipulated men and women into his bed as brutally as he swung any business deal. Among the revelations of this book: Hughes's seduction in his teens by his uncle Rupert, a famed novelist and playwright. Hughes became bisexual, and was later to have affairs with several male stars, including Cary Grant and Tyrone Power; his buying movie star Billie Dove from her husband for $325,000 ($7 million in today's money). When her career faltered in pictures he produced, he dropped her; his concurrent affairs with Ginger Rogers, Katharine Hepburn (with whom he was living), and the then married Bette Davis; his dangerous forays into sadomasochism while he was engaged in a torrid affair with Linda Darnell; his obsession for and eventual marriage to actress Jean Peters, whom he persuaded to leave war hero Audie Murphy, only to emotionally abandon her for years; his financial involvement with Richard Nixon, and his direct involvement in Watergate; the events leading up to his death, and the possibility that Hughes, who had massive blood transfusions in the 1960s and 1970s, was an early victim of AIDS. With these and other astonishing disclosures drawn from exclusive sources, Charles Higham has written a rivet
Charles Higham's biography of eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes (1905-75) is a feast of scandal. Obviously, old Hollywood hand Higham has been hoarding revelations. Secrets tumble out in quick succession: Not only does he "out" the reclusive tycoon; he links him to several male movie stars, including Cary Grant and Tyrone Power. But Hughes's bisexual beddings are not even the book's main attraction. Higham's research has unearthed tawdry Hughes financial deals with politicians, including presidential rivals Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey.
- Publisher's Weekly
Though the author claims he aims to show his subject's ``crucial role not only in aviation and movie-making but in major political affairs,'' this gossipy book mainly concerns the bisexual lusts and personal quirks of Howard Hughes (1905-1976). In sometimes overwrought style, Higham, biographer of Katherine Hepburn and Errol Flynn, describes how the eccentric tycoon, who backed such films as The Outlaw , indulged his sexual tastes on screen, how his favors for the CIA (e.g., leasing a Bahamian island as a base for dirty tricks in Cuba) aided his companies, Hughes Tool and Hughes Aircraft, and how he bought large chunks of Las Vegas in 1967. Hughes apparently spent six-hour stretches on the toilet, made humiliating demands of his bodyguards and stashed underage starlets in isolated, elegant houses in Bel Air and Beverly Hills. While some of Higham's contentions are buttressed by witnesses, some of the most incendiary--such as his claim that Hughes's sexuality was malformed as a teenager, when his uncle seduced him; that Hughes may have died of AIDS; and that Hughes played a key role in the Watergate break-in--are speculative. Photos not seen by PW. First serial to National Enquirer. (July)
An outing of the billionaire closet bisexual by Higham, whose bios include lives of Cary Grant, Brando, Orson Welles, the Duchess of Windsor, and L.B. Mayer, among others. Higham does his research an injustice by insisting on printing much sexual hearsay as fact (and hinting that Hughes died of an AIDS-like disease), especially since he has done as much homework on Hughes's business and monetary activities as he did on Wallis Windsor and Mayer. The first half of Hughes's life fascinates with his immense network of seductions as he forms one movie company to assuage his voyeuristic needs and buys another to continue them—while also running Hughes Tool, TWA, and other businesses—and meanwhile breaking an around-the-world aircraft speed record and building the gigantic Spruce Goose military transport (a white elephant of no use whatsoever). This is all before his psychic collapse into fear of large-scale germ warfare via Kleenex, a mental illness that Higham suggests Hughes picked up from his mother, a monumental cleanliness nut. As for the bisexual hearsay, Higham says he got it from Lawrence Quirk, nephew of Photoplay publisher James Quirk, who got it straight from Hughes's bisexual uncle Rupert Hughes, who got it from Hughes himself during a confessional outpouring. Higham says that Hughes's "sexual partners were not so much lovers as hostages, prisoners or victims of his will; he had to dominate in everything." The author tells of Hughes's descent into Hollywood S&M, and as for his news about Hughes paying off Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon: It may not be new, but it comes strongly documented. The recluse's last years are...ripe—he even takes to storing his urinein Mason jars. Undeniably a hypnotic portrait of a great American monster.
From the Publisher
"The outrageous and often sordid details of Howard Hughes's life...novel twists concerning the famous eccentric's libidinous moments and his own particular mode of slow death."
- Library Journal
"A hypnotic portrait of a great American monster."
Charles Higham is the author of such bestsellers as The Duchess of Windsor; Kate: The Life of Katharine Hepburn; and Bette: The Life of Bette Davis. With coauthor Ray Moseley, he has written Elizabeth and Philip: The Untold Story of the Queen of England and Her Prince, and biographies of Cary Grant and Merle Oberon. A former New York Times feature writer, Mr. Higham lives in Los Angeles.