Howard Hughes: The Secret Life

Overview

His wealth was legendary. His passions were bizarre. Now, the truth about the money, the madness, and the man behind the enigma.

Howard Hughes is one of the best known and least understood men of our times—famed for his wealth, his daring, and his descent into madness. Bestselling biographer Charles Higham goes beyond the enigma to reveal the incredible private life of Howard Hughes:

* his romances with the great stars of Hollywood—Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Cary Grant, ...

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Howard Hughes: The Secret Life

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Overview

His wealth was legendary. His passions were bizarre. Now, the truth about the money, the madness, and the man behind the enigma.

Howard Hughes is one of the best known and least understood men of our times—famed for his wealth, his daring, and his descent into madness. Bestselling biographer Charles Higham goes beyond the enigma to reveal the incredible private life of Howard Hughes:

* his romances with the great stars of Hollywood—Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Cary Grant, Tyrone Power, and numerous others

* his forays into sadomasochism

* his involvement with Richard Nixon and Watergate

* his bizarre final years

This is a compelling portrait of a unique American figure—in a story as revealing as it is unforgettable.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
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.
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."

- Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly - 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)
Kirkus Reviews
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312329976
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 11/10/2004
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 410,811
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2005

    the definition of eccentric

    A man with creativity and brillance that let his demons get to him. It is amazing of how much money and how many lives he put on the line just to make something that seemed impossible possible. However his life is rather distrubing, but it must be known so that another great mind like Hughes won't happen again. It's crazy how this man lived the way he did, it's amazing that he lived as long as he did. But even 'heroes' have their faults and demons that haunt them. When you look up the word eccentric there should be a picture of howard hughes by it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2010

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