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Wednesday, 2 February 2005, 10:59:13 am, Gillian Hayes
http://www.socalhistory.org/Biographies/h_hughes.htm Good basic overview of his life
Wednesday, 2 February 2005, 11:08:58 am, Gillian Hayes
www.howardhughes.com - howard hughes corporate site
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Hughes – wikipedia stuff, good basic background
Early Childhood and Family Profile of Howard Hughes, Jr.
For sake of reading clarity, Howard Hughes Senior will always be referred to as Sr. Howard Hughes Jr (topic of our research) will be referred to as Howard, HH, Hughes, or Jr.
of Howard Jr:
rustically attractive PB article
of Howard Sr (and ancestors):
irascible temperaments - interview of Florence Stevenson April 28, 1976
very hard of hearing
of Allene (mother):
paranoid of disease, constant nervousness (likely instilled this fear in Jr)
of Howard Jr:
shy, reclusive, and private PB article
but wanted fame and seem to instinctively know what would give it to him
some might argue that he invented the modern idea of celebrity (perhaps compensating for the attention from parents deprived him by their early deaths)
tinkered with gadgets
made home made radios
of Howard Sr., Felix, and ancestors:
came to America as early as 1610 settlement of Jamestown
moved west with America, settling in MO in 1853
Felix (Jrs grandfather) broke familys ties with land and went to teaching college eventually becoming a lawyer
Jean (Jrs grandmother) was Southern, romatic, and bookish she instilled the drive to dream in her children, a drive that required Felix to make lots of money to send them to musical schools, law schools, etc
Howard Sr was second born (1869) and basically a misfit by the days standards. He really only enjoyed taking apart machinery and putting it back together. (although I could find no evidence of this anywhere in the books, the sorts of behaviors both Sr and Jr were noted to have are typical of Pervasive Development Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder, neither of which were diagnosed in those days)
Jean always supported Sr no matter what he did:
He went to Harvard in fall 1893 but dropped out
Enrolled in ISU law school (family was now in Idaho) but dropped out
Passed the bar without school and joined Felixs law practice but quit soon after, leaving home in 1895 to wander mining towns
June 10, 1901 Spindletop started gushing in TX and Hughes Sr. with many others rushed to TX for oil. Over the years, his wealth (and debt) fluctuated wildly with his father bailing him out in times of trouble.
Sr. married Allene Gano, the daughter of a Dallas judge who was very interested in music and literature (appealing to Jean). They went on a long tour of Europe for the honeymoon even though he was broke.
1905 – They moved to Houston to be near the center of the oil rush.
Dec 24, 1905 Jr born
Very difficult birth that nearly killed Allene
No birth certificate on record
Summer 1907 moved to Northern Louisiana
Sr. teamed up with Walter Sharp (oil man) who had patented a process for using compressed air to get oil out of old wells
The Tool Co:
1908 Sr. and Sharp were creating the bit Hughes bit rock
- there is some contention as to where the idea originated but on Nov 20 1908, Sr. filed the patent as sole inventor
June 1909 prototype built and field tested
August 10, 1909 two patents released and foundation for the Hughes fortune began
After Sharps death, his widow had to try to curb Srs spending – he invested heavily in new R&D as well as spent money on himself and family. She finally got fed up and sold at which point Sr. changed the name from Sharpe-Hughes Tool Co. to just Hughes Tool Co.
1909 family moves back to Houston where Allene and Howard (although not rich) are part of the elite belong to Christ Church Cathedral, Houston Country Club, and enrolled Jr at Prossers Academy (where he had little interest in school)
Jr. bonded with his father by setting up a work table at the Tool Co. where they together built a motorcycle
Had only one childhood friend (Dudley Sharp) with whom he attended camp and learned the saxophone
Sr. traveled a lot, so Allene raised Jr alone and smothered him with care (p 38 Barlett and Steele).
Took him to the doctor frequently
During disease outbreaks, they would leave town
He idolized his mother (interview with Martha Potts, Cousin)
At age ten, crowned king of Christ Church Cathedrals May Fete his first introduction to Houston Society
Summer 1916 first night ever away from Allene sent to camp to build up his fragile health. He seemed well, but Allene pulled him from camp in August due to a polio scare in the East.
Summer 1917 was not meant to return to camp, but he got sick, so Allene sent him. Allene demanded regular letters from Jrs stockade leader (letter to Lieutenant Aures July 16, 1917, Beard papers). This summer was not as good because there were bullies and a lack of good instructors due to WWI.
August 23, 1917 Houston race riots that included black soldiers (13 later executed). Despite being miles away from the actual action, his perception was that he was right in the middle of it (memo Hughes to Maheu undated around April 1968, Maheu V Hughes Tool Company). This sparked a huge anti-Negro frenzy that probably instilled a life long fear and hatred of African-Americans.
Winter and Spring 1918 very sick and got very behind in schoolwork
Summer 1918 planned to return to camp and be a stockade leader but mysteriously cancelled trip last minute
Travelled with his mother (and without) a lot when their was disease in Houston. Time with Felix and Jean was hard. Felix was nearly deaf; Jean was terrified of bugs; and they fought a lot.
Spring 1919 Jr suddenly could not walk; parents feared polio
After two months in a wheelchair, he recovered
Source of illness was never discovered
Fall 1920 enrolled in Fessenden school in West Newton MA in an effort to save failing academics (although Sr. was not much for school, he wanted Jr to go).
Family moved to LA
March 22, 1922 Allene went to hospital for outpatient surgery but never recovered from the antisthetic
Summer 1923 Annette moved back to Houston to get married. Sr begged her to move into the familys house in Houston where Jr would enroll as a freshman at Rice.
January 14, 1924 Sr suddenly died of a heart attack in the middle of a business meeting
Jan 16 funeral and end of Jrs boyhood at 18
Two early deaths exaggerated his already formed perception of himself as fragile. He became completely obsessed with his health and feared for early death.
During this time, his personality underwent a major change: One searches his youth in vain for a trace of the individualism and rock-hard independence that would govern him as a man (p. 53 Barlett and Steele)
Never interfered with Tool Cos daily operations.
Had rarely dated but did start to go after Ella Rice.
Tuesday, 22 February 2005, 9:14:36 am
Hughes's first movie was Swell Hogan - Hughes financed it, but was otherwise uninvolved. It was so bad it was never released.
Second attempt was Everybody's Acting - it made a modest profit, and prompted move from hotel to more permanent residence.
Amended charter of Caddo Rock Drill Bit Company of Louisiana to allow it to finance his early films, indicating his permanent entrenchment in Hollywood. Hired Noah Dietrich to oversee Caddo's Hollywood operations.
Hollywood did not take Hughes seriously, though his next movie, Two Arabian Knights was a great success. However, again, Hughes's only involvement was as financier. Though this gave him the opportunity to "quietly absorb the technical side of filmmaking."
Next attempt was Hells Angels (began in 1927). Had conflict with the first two directors, prompting him to direct it himself. The scope of the movie was unlike anything Hollywood had ever seen.
Major airplane accident resulted in permanent damage to his face. Three other pilots died in fiery accidents during filming.
Despite the depression gripping the nation, Hughes continued to grow his production, not carrying about expense. He was obsessed, and during production his wife, Ella, left him (separation began in 1928, divorce finalized in 1929).
Just after Ella left, he gave his old family house to his aunt, Annette Lummis, who had been living there. She wanted to buy her own house (with more room), but Hughes became upset at the thought of it being vacant, so he offered to pay for an addition (as well as give her the house) if she would stay - she agreed. Shortly thereafter, he excluded her and all his mother's relatives from his updated will. Though no copy of this will survived, it is thought that he planned to give the bulk of his money to medical research.
Hell's Angels finished filming in 1929. However, with the introduction of "talkies", Hughes decided a silent film wouldn't cut it. So he insisted on refilming the dialogue scenes (despite having spent over $2 million so far (an astronomical sum in those days)). This required a new script, and a new leading lady (the original actress's accent forced her out) - Jean Harlow. Although still under contract, Hughes later lost interest in her and sold her contract to Irving Thalberg at MGM for a very small sum.
Hell's Angels was finally finished in 1930, and was considered a joke up to its release ($3.8 million, 2.5 million feet of film shot, 3 year production). Very well received, and launched "the Hughes legend". This also showed for the first time Hugh's flair for public relations. First, his promotion of the movie, then his promotion of himself. "As if Hell's Angels' critical success were not enough, Hughes manufactured figures showing that the movie was also an 'incredible moneymaker,' yielding a profit of more than $2 million on his $3.8 million investment." However, according to Dietrich, the film actually lost $1.5 million. This loss was unimportant, being covered by the tool company. However, "to his budding legend as a financial whiz, the story of the Hell's Angels monetary success was all-important."
Telling anecdote: Hughes held the contract of Louis Wolheim (made famous by Two Arabian Knights), and British producer Herbert Wilcox wanted him. Hughes made a deal for Wolheim to work for Wilcox for 3 days for $20,000. Less than an hour later, after being told by the director that Wolheim was unacceptable, Wilcox hurried back to cancel the deal with Hughes. Hughes responded, "You made a deal with me for twenty thousand dollars. Wolheim will report on your set Monday and be available for three days, and I want twenty thousand dollars before he starts work!" Wilcox protested but eventually paid. He later reflected that this incident probably illustrated, "one of the many reasons Hughes is a multi-millionaire - and I am not."
Despite this toughness, Hughes spoke with a frankness which was surprising for Hollywood. He "refused to claim credit for Hell's Angels, and as quick to admit his failures, except for the financial ones." In a rare 1932 interview, he confessed that making Hell's Angels himself was his biggest mistake: "It would have been finished sooner and cost less. I had to worry about money, sign checks, hire pilots, get planes, cast everything, direct the whole thing. Trying to do the work of twelve men was just dumbness on my part. I learned by bitter experience that no one mane can know everything."
"At twenty-six, Hughes had apparently learned the rule of all successful executives: leaders must delegate authority. Yet in the years ahead, he would routinely disregard the lesson, making it a custom to interfere with, second-guess, and deny authority to his managers."
After the success of Hell's Angels, Hollywood was instantly mesmerized by Hughes. However, Hughes remained shy, even in success. He was out of place at parties - oddly frightened and subdued around others considering his legend abounding with courage ("the fearless pilot, the daring driver whizzing through Southern California, the gambler whose stakes were his own fortune"). Though Hollywood had its share of eccentrics and misfits, Hughes had several peculiarities: "He never wore a watch, he kept odd hours, he hated to be photographed, and he avoided large parties, preferring small, intimate get-togethers in private homes." The phobias instilled by his mother (neurotic fear of illness and disease) were maturing, and they were compounded by "a growing obsession with the details of his work, a compulsive striving for perfection in projects large and small." These traits [?] were still part of his appeal, his growing legend, in the 1920's.
His next 5 movies (in the year following Hell's Angels) saw him move back to a producer's role. Then came Scarface. To direct, he pursued his rival, Howard Hawks, who he was currently suing, claiming that parts of his movie Dawn Patrol had been lifted from Hell's Angels (Dawn Patrol was written by John Monk Saunders, who was married to Hughes's uncle Rupert's stepdaughter - this caused a further deteriation of relations between Hughes and his uncle). He agreed to drop the lawsuit and succeeded in wooing Hawks to direct Scarface for him. Hughes gave a huge budget, and stayed out of the way. The finished film was great, but ran into trouble with Hollywood's censoring agency (forcing a major watering down), and was later banned by the New York state Board of Censors. His battle with the sensors gained him many public supporters, and resulted in a legal victory. Scarface (with the original cuts) was released in March of 1932, a great success.
"Hughes was especially possessive about Scarface all his life, and refused to sell rights to the story or allow other exhibitors to show the 1932 classic. In 1974, Hughes even turned down a $2 million offer from one producer who wanted to buy world rights to the movie, and Scarface remained locked up in a basement vault at 7000 Romaine Street in Hollywood, where it had languished more than forty years."
Hughes thought about making another aerial film, but got distracted by a new toy. As became his way in life, he focused all his attention on one thing, only to abandon it in favor of another. He bought a new airplane, a sleek racer that he spent the spring and summer of 1932 working on streamlining. Though he owned many airplanes ("a small airforce") this one was special because it was a military pursuit plane, and Hughes was the only civilian in the U.S. to have one - obtained through "special arrangements" with the Dept. of Commerce. As his expenses in remodeling it (to make it faster) mounted, he created the Hughes Aircraft Company as a new division of Hughes Tool Company.
Airplanes became Hughes's new obsession. "As a measure of his ripening ego and concern with status symbols, Hughes badgered the Aeronautic Branch of the Dept of Commerce to give his pilot's license a lower number. Charles Lindbergh's license number was 69, Hughes's was 4223. In the fall of 1932, the Commerce Dept awarded him number 374, and in the spring of 1933, he received 80, which he kept for the rest of his flying days."
During this period Hughes worked the only "outside" job he ever had. He was a junior pilot for American Airways (salary: $250 per month). He did this, under the assumed name Charles W. Howard, to gain experience as a pilot. He made 1 trip at the controls of a Fokker F-10 from LA to NY before being discovered and resigning.
On his way to a flight race in Miami in January of 1934, he stopped in Houston to visit his aunts (Annette Lummis and Martha Houstoun) for the first time in years. After eating dinner one night with his family and Dudley Sharp and his wife Tina, whom Hughes knew while growing up, Hughes whispered to Tina, "I've got something for you." He ran upstairs and returned with a boyhood photo of Dudley that he wanted her to have. Also during this visit he met, and was taken with, his cousin, Annette's oldest son, four-year-old William Rice Lummis (Willie), who was a carbon copy of Hughes at that age. In one of only two letters he wrote Annette, he said he thought Willie was "adorable."
At the All-American Air Meet in Miami, Hughes averaged 185.7 miles per hour over the twenty-mile course, nearly lapping his nearest competitor. He was given an impressive trophy for his first aviation prize by the Dominican Republic dictator Genral Rafael Trujillo, who presided over the meet. He was now completely hooked, deciding to build his own plane designed to be the fasted land plane ever.
He assembled a team of designers, engineers, and craftsmen who all shared Hughes's enthusiasm for aviation. They built a plane incorporating all the innovations of the day; flush rivets, shortened wings, and a unique retractable landing gear. As with Hell's Angels, Hughes received far my credit for this plane than he deserved. He wasn't a designer, nor "an especially seminal thinker in aeronautics", but he was an incredible brain-picker. "'He knew how to get answers,' recalled Robert W. Rummel, an engineer who worked on the H-1 and later worked closely with Hughes at TWA. 'He had a habit which I did not really discover until years later. He would call me up and talk about something like wing efficiency. He would want to know my opinion. I'd tell him. Then he would often call back later and say what about this or that, referring to our earlier conversation. Years later I learned he was doing the same thing with five or six guys.' By picking brains, Hughes narrowed his options, arrived at the right decision time after time, and wrote aviation history with the H-1." Work continued for 18 months, despite the Depression - financing was again courtesy of the Hughes Tool Company drill bit.
Hughes growing fame in aviation was making him a hero to his workers in Houston. They had been unhappy with what they viewed as his wasting the fruits of their labors in the movie industry, but his aviation activities were viewed as much more respectful than his Hollywood activities.
However, Colonel R. C. Kuldell, president and general manager of Hughes Tool (since Hughes Sr.'s time) was concerned - if Hughes was killed in an accident, the company would be destroyed to pay federal estate taxes, unless Hughes had a valid will. In August 1935, he wrote Hughes, basically asking for him to rewrite his will, leaving a portion of "his estate to his employes and associates" to prevent the dismantling of the company (upon Hughes's death) by a 75% inheritance tax. Hughes directed Dietrich to reply that he "inserted a provision in his will giving tool company officers a share in his estate." He did not actually do anything.
Over the years, Dietrich poisoned Kuldell in Hughes's mind, seeing Kuldell as his (Dietrich) only rival for power. Shortly after the will issue, Hughes sent Dietrich to Houston to keep an eye on things. Within two years, Dietrich won the ensuing power struggle (with Hughes in his corner), and Kuldell was forced out.
In August of 1935 the H-1 was ready. Despite the very real dangers, Hughes refused to allow anyone else to pilot it - to do otherwise would have "shot his pride". It performed so well that by September he was making a bid for the speed record. He succeeded, setting the record at 352 miles per hour. However, he was so excited while flying that he failed to notice the low gas levels, and the engine "conked out" before he could switch tanks. Though the plane was losing altitude, Hughes refrained from bailing out, as that would result in a total loss of the H-1. Instead, he rode it down, crashlanding into a beet field. Hughes was unhurt, and the H-1 suffered only minor damage. Upon being informed of his record setting speed, "he coolly surveyed the H-1's crumpled landing gear and muttered: 'It'll go faster.'"
With this record, his position in the aviation world was solidified. "As usual, Hughes took no credit; he owed it to the plane, he said, and 'the boys who worked with me getting the plane ready for the flight. I only flew a perfect machine.' But the fame was his."
Saturday, 26 February 2005, 4:49:50 am
Monday, 28 February 2005, 6:59:52 pm
Monday, 28 February 2005, 7:03:19 pm
Friday, 4 March 2005, 9:36:50 pm
On September 13, 1935, Hughes set a new land-speed record of 352 miles per hour (previous record was set at 314.32 by French pilot Raymond Delmotte) with his H-1 (he called it Winged Bullet). Two days in a row appeared to be necessary since imperfect cameras and other equipment had to fix the record speed at least 4 times; Hughes repeated his attempt with persistency close to obsession; finally he used all the fuel in a main tank and tried to switch to reserve one when engine died; auxiliary fuel supply chain failed and Hughes performed crush landing onto beet field; fortunately he did not get injuries.
In 1936 he set a new transcontinental record (bought Northrop Gamma mail plane and redesigned borrowed from Army Air Corps new Wright G Cyclone engine; he was constantly working on improvement of aircrafts design), and the next year he shortened the record to seven hours and twenty-eight minutes. Hughes was now immensely popular and was hosted by the president at the White House.
1937 acquired effective control over Transcontinental & Western Airline (TWA) (later renamed Trans World and called TWA); 1939 is the official date of acquisition. TWA developed and spread its routes during his guidance; TWAs Connies (Constellation) began flying from New York to Paris on February 5, 1946 (below: Constellation over Manhattan).
There is also an opinion that TWA was almost brought to ruin with his aberrant management style and all the TWAs achievement were actually due to other people and in years where he did not perform full control: although he did much to transform TWA into a major international carrier, his secretive ways and quixotic decisions nearly plunged the airline into bankruptcy.
1938 around-the-world flight on the specially converted Lockheed 14 (personally piloted the flight having almost no sleep). He studied weather patterns and installed an autopilot and four radios to make contacts along his route. He and a four-man crew left New York on July 10, 1938, and cut Lindbergh's record in half in his flight to Paris. Hughes landed in New York on July 14, 1938, having circled the globe in three days, nineteen hours, and seventeen minutes. He was honored with parades all over America although he seemed not pleased with this honor and tried to avoid speeches and crowds whenever possible.
This flight actually cost him $300,000 (including preparations, equipment, supplies, purchase of 2 airplanes from Lockheed, salaries to crew etc); this figure was widely published which met his furious objection; he claimed that his spending was only $6,000.
Throughout this time: affair with Katharine Hepburn (later on Hughes told a mutual friend of his and mine years later that the biggest mistake he ever made in his life was not being able to convince Katharine Hepburn to marry him); Olivia de Havilland and other actresses. His traits in this affairs: total control, abruptness; sudden disappearing etc.
During and shortly after this flight he did not pay much attention to Hughes Aircraft; as a result, when Army Corps announcement of a market for new interceptor draw his attention to the plant again Hughes found out that his key people decided to leave; Palmer and weatherman Rockefeller were the first. Hughes tried to retain them in his usual manner (calling and sending to lawyer whom he did not warn; disappearing afterwards).
He now decided to invest in military aircraft, and sought to sell his planes and ideas to the government. But he veiled his plans in secrecy and ignored regulations and protocol. He also insisted on building planes out of plywood using a "duramold" process, when the industry standard was aluminum. When the Army Material Command declared that the airplanes could not be made combat ready, Hughes used friends in Washington in an attempt to go over their heads. But he still lost the contract and decided to lock .. door and design and build an airplane which would be so outstanding that the Army could not ignore it without facing public criticism (D-2).
At last, shipbuilder Henry J. Kaiser got Hughes a contract. Kaiser convinced the government that a fleet of gigantic flying boats was needed to ferry men and supplies across the ocean. On March 27, 1944, after Hughes's lobbying in Washington, he received a contract for one flying boat. Only one HK-1, which the public called the "Spruce Goose" (a name Hughes hated the plane was actually made from birch), was built. He successfully flew the craft on November 2, 1947 (below).
On October 11, 1943, Hughes also received a contract for 101 of his D-2 (XF-11 reconnaissance) planes. The XF-11 was an aluminum redesign of the wooden D-2. During the war almost 90% of all US bombardment equipment was produced by Hughes Aircraft (wings, fuselages, equipment etc) though they still did not supply army with finished aircrafts.
At the end of World War IIqv in 1945, Hughes won permission to complete the two prototypes under construction. In 1946, in his first flight of the XF-11, he crashed in Beverly Hills; beyond organic injuries this crush supposedly spurred his psychological disorders. This was his fourth crash (in November 1943 he had hit Lake Mead in a crash that killed two people). He successfully flew the second prototype on April 5, 1946.
Friday, 4 March 2005, 9:47:36 pm
Movies at this period: The Outlaw (1941) became controversial for its sexually explicit advertising and content, both featuring a sensational outfit worn by a busty Jane Russell. Inspired by the excitement over The Outlaw, Hughes later took a break from airplane fuselage design to create the half-cup bra, modelled by his Hollywood discovery, Jane Russell. the Outlaw was initially to be named Billy the Kid but was renamed when other company anvertised a release of the film with the same name in a process of Hughes' filmmaking.
Tuesday, 8 March 2005, 2:09:39 am
First just to let you know I talked to Dr. Harold and he said not do any to the phyc stuff.(??? What does this mean ????)
In Hughess later life he changes very little in his management style. He begins going into seclusions more and more as he is able to rely on his people more. Some of his main strengths is he has the money and the savvy to hire the best people. However, he is paranoid and his paranoia seems to increases with his age and his detachment from others. This causes him to fire many of his people.
The only people around him are very loyal but as time goes on they relies that he only wants to here certain things and they tell him what he wants to hear. His control over them is money based and when since they fear loosing their jobs they control him more and more to the detriment of his own business. He does no mentoring and becomes more reliant on those that are more interested in there job than him.
The people who do run his business at this point are very ambitious and self centered do to money being their only interest and fight among each other to gain power and have learned as long as Hughes thinks they are doing what he wants he will not meddle. He only seems to take interest in a company when he is not in complete control.
In the end the neglect of his company and people, besides monetary, lead to his companies decline and his own death.
I wanted to get this posted, I have plenty of examples of these characteristics and should have no problem writing my part but this is where I am going with it.
Tuesday, 8 March 2005, 7:01:51 am
Howard Hughes and RKO
In 1948, HH bought RKO studios. At that time, RKO had enjoyed a prestigious position in the movie industry. It had major studios in Hollywood and in Culver City, ninety acres of land in Los Angeles and a film producing company in Mexico City. RKO also had a wholly owned subsidiary that controlled a chain of one hundred and twenty four motion picture theaters across the United States. The company had a net worth in excess of $100 million with an earned surplus of $23.5 million. In 1946, Frank Odlum, a West Coast financier and the major stockholder (with $9 million) put his stock for sale.
HHs method of negotiating with Odlum was characteristic of the man. He refused to sit down with anyone in an office to negotiate. Instead, meetings took place in parked cars on lonely streets in the middle of the night, in airplanes, anonymous hotel rooms and railroad stations.
He continued to negotiate with Odlum in this unorthodox manner for four months. In May 1998, HH bought Odlums stake for $8,825,500. Fortune said HHs reasons for buying RKO were two of his abiding interests, prestige and money. The business reasons were quite sound, too. HH was definitely interested in the 124 theaters over which he had control now, particularly since he had had difficulties with distribution before. He also had two movies approaching completion Mad Wednesday and Vendetta. These two had cost him over $2 million and he wanted to be sure of outlets.
HH management style of RKO was not dissimilar to what he had exhibited before. After assuming control of RKO, HH met the President Peter Ravthon and assured him that he would be hands-off and also that Dore Schary, the head of production would remain under the supervision of Ravthon.
As always, HH said that he would abdicate responsibility and authority but in reality he assumed it himself. Within two weeks, HH was questioning Schary on his reasons for making a movie called Battleground. Two weeks after this conversation, HH called Schary and asked him to halt production of two movies in progress. Schary resigned and HH publicly remarked that it saved him paying him two weeks salary. Soon after Schary, Ravthon left, too.
One of HHs first moves at RKO was to sell to the studio those films personally owned by him, including The Outlaw, Mad Wednesday and Vendetta. By the end of 1948, RKO had lost $5,600,000. The studio announced that 1949 would be much better and that it would release forty-nine films, thirty-one to be made by RKO itself. That year produced a loss of about $5 million for RKO. As soon as the results were announced, most of the directors began to leave. The loss-making trend continued at RKO. In 1951, creative financial accounting converted a multi-million dollar loss into a small profit of $300,000: the amortization cost of films was delayed until twenty-six weeks after the release of each picture. The year 1952 showed no improvement. The first nine months produced a loss of $5 million and would have been higher for the whole year. Desperate to be profitable, RKO ended up re-releasing a two-decade old movie called King Kong. During the last three months of 1952, HH completely shutdown RKO. It was believed that the reason was the studios huge overhead, while it was making neither movies nor money.
By September of 1952, HH had decided to sell off his RKO holdings for about $7.35 million. His public relations people explained this move by saying that of all his enterprises, RKO was the least important, yet HH was devoting 85% of his time to it. The studio was sold to a syndicate.
Having long been the plaintiff, HH now became the defendant of several lawsuits, brought in Nevada, Delaware, New York and California. The central theme of these suits was that RKO stock had lost 80% of its value under HHs stewardship. After protracted legal battles, HH proposed buying RKO back for $24 million, which was an astonishingly high amount given that the net worth of the studio was estimated at $15 million. The deal went thorough and HH became the sole owner of RKO in 1954.
HH began to plan selling RKO almost as soon as he acquired it. He began negotiations with Thomas Francis ONeil, President of General Teleradio. The result of this round of negotiations was that HH sold RKO, ending his eight years at RKO with a profit of about $10 million, all in capital gains with little tax bite.
Saturday, 2 April 2005, 1:54:02 am, Adam
Portrait of a Leader,
For Better or For Worse
Leadership and Organizational Change Group Project
April 9, 2005
W. Laws Calley
Gillian R. Hayes
"I am by nature a perfectionist, and I seem to have trouble allowing anything to go through in a half-perfect condition. So if I made any mistake it was in working too hard and in doing too much of it with my own hands."
Few leaders have captured the public imagination in such a dramatic way as Howard Hughes. With the recent popularity of the movie The Aviator and the flurry of pop culture references to this enigmatic billionaire, we wanted to explore the deeper realms of his successes and his failures. Hughes, a dramatic risk taker in his business ventures and paranoid risk averse conservative in many of his private ventures, could invest in projects and succeed or fail at them in ways that no one else could do, simply by having stumbled into his fathers fortunes. This ability to live outside the constraints that impeded many other entrepreneurs allowed him to accomplish feats deemed impossible and to live in a completely unique way. At the same time, unencumbered by many aspects of society, Hughes behaved in ways many of us find contemptible.
And so we are left to wonder:
· Despite his many flaws, what was it about Hughes that made him so beloved by so many?
· What can we learn about leadership, both what to do and what not to do from his individualized style?
By studying leaders who have enjoyed both great successes and great failures in their lives, we can learn to comprehend the depth of complexities of a leader, who is after all only human. At the same time, we can use this thoughtful analysis to improve our own skills and confidence in decisions that will hopefully lead to our own success as leaders.
In this document, we first cover a brief history of Howard Hughes Jr.s ancestry and uncover the timeline of his life. We then discuss the significant traits inherent to Hughes and with which he had to work to craft his own leadership style. We discuss the behaviors he exhibited set against a backdrop of the life stage he was experiencing and the stressors these stages can cause in human psychological development as well as of Hughes need for absolute control and perfection as foreshadowed in the opening quotation of this section. Finally, we close with some conclusions and reflections on Hughes as a leader that we hope will serve the reader with some lessons about leadership as seen through Howard Hughes, Jr.
History and Timeline
Time line is done - Gillian will email out next week.
In the research literature, there are many reports of some evidence that effective leadership can be predicted accurately by some combination of psychological traits such as extraversion, conscientiousness, honesty/integrity, self-confidence, adjustment, creativity, flexibility, self-monitoring, and charisma (Youngjohn, 1999). Furthermore, popular culture is filled with examples of management self help books that advocate looking for (or exhibiting) both physical and interpersonal traits such as passion, eagerness to accept responsibility, intelligence, communication skills, high energy and decisiveness, courage and resolution, flexibility, controlled ego, inner peace, a defining background, a strong family life, height, good looks, positive attitude, and focus on doing the right things right (Gardner, 1989; Neff, 1999). Most popular in the 1940s, trait theory has left behind a history and a mental model in the public minds eye, so much so that the stereotypical vision most Americans have of a successful corporate leader can probably be described using traits such as tall, commanding, and charismatic. And so it is the responsibility of those profiling leaders of the past to acknowledge the traits present and not in each leader and possibly uncover compensation strategies for those traits that may be missing.
Hughes ended a long line of tall, good looking men, who incidentally also lost their hearing early in their adulthoods. And so physically, Hughes could be argued to be both well and ill equipped with traits necessary to become a great leader. Hughes, himself stood six feet four inches, was by most descriptions somewhat lanky and could be considered rustically attractive [NEED TO CITE PB ARTICLE]. He was also often described as quiet, shy, and only an average student. Reports indicate that he certainly held a commanding presence even after his hearing began to disappear, unabashedly yelling and asking others to do the same. [NEED REF . THIS WAS IN ONE OF THE BOOKS ADAM HAD AS I RECALL]
Hughes ancestry, which included entrepreneurs, scholars, engineers, and musicians provided him a strong family background, but the loss of both his parents before he turned nineteen and his inability to maintain a marriage and create a new family of his own, contributed to his lack of a strong family presence in his adult life. Many argue that it was his attempts to compensate for these losses that led him to many of the self-destructive practices in his personal life. His father, Howard Sr., was also tall, handsome, and big-boned with long limbs and large ears. With irascible temperaments [CITE INTERVIEW WITH FLORENCE STEVENSON, APRIL 28, 1976] and little hearing ability, Sr.s temperament may have foreshadowed some of Howard Jr.s traits, but it was Allene, Jrs mother, who held the traits that made him one of the most memorable eccentric leaders of the twentieth century. Tall, graceful, beautiful, and filled with appropriate social training, Allene instilled much of the passion and quest for greatness that Hughes exhibited throughout his life. Paranoid, constantly nervous, terrified of African Americans, particularly after the Houston race riots of 1917, and acutely aware of every possibility of health ailment, Allene also managed to instill in Howard a fear of death, disease, confrontation, and those who might bring these things to him. Her early death when Hughes was only 16 only served to reinforce these traits in him, setting the stage for the paranoia and eccentricities of his later life.
Hughes clearly had the passion and ego that usually predict leaders, but he lacked the control and inner peace needed to temper those. To compensate, he often kept other individuals close to him to run the business or attend to his particular needs as will be discussed throughout the following sections. His utter lack of flexibility, along with his drive to complete perfectly everything that he began, may also have been compensated to some degree by these close friends and advisors.
[I THINK THIS PROBABLY NEEDS A BIT MORE, BUT I AM NOT SURE WHAT]
Leadership as a Function of Life Stage and Environment
Leaders do not operate in vacuums. Research and popular management culture alike indicate that the context of the corporate, political, and personal environments of a leader greatly affects how successful that leader will be as well as how that leader is perceived regardless of success rates. Howard Hughes, Jr. was born and raised at a time that the push West and entrepreneurial spirit of the American West was at its height by a father who had abandoned every safe and traditional option available to chase the American dream in the oil fields. Furthermore, he enjoyed his most prominent success during a time period in which womanizing was embraced, movie stars, producers, and aviators were the first true celebrities as we know them today, and the concept of a defense industry outside of war-time was just developing. Finally, Hughess decline physically, mentally, and in business, came on the heels of a time in American culture of great paranoia about communism and other subversive elements and regular demonstrations and rioting in the streets.
The context of this outer world is hugely important to the development of Hughes as a leader and as a person. Furthermore, anyones development as a leader is dependant on the passage through life stages and development as a person. In the following sections we discuss Hughess behaviors using the external context as well as this model of human development:
Breaking Loose (late teens): Leaving home, focus on peers, testing your wings, loneliness, attachment to causes, changing life style, throwing out family morals, and conforming to friends.
Building the Nest (twenties): Search for identity, intimate friendships, marriage, intoxication with own power, great dreams, making commitments, taking on responsibilities, getting launched in a career, working toward foals, finding a mentor, having children.
Looking Around (thirties): Raising questions, recognizing painful limitations, gathering possessions, moving up career ladder, settling down, desiring freedom.
Mid-Life Rebirth (forties): Awareness of mortality, diminishing physical energy, emotional turmoil, parenting teenagers, finding new friends, deep questioning, changing careers, second adolescence, divorce, loneliness, remarriage, remodeling life structure, learning to play again.
Investing in Life (fifties): Life reordered, settling down, acting on new values, focus on people instead of possessions and power, selecting a few good friends, grand parenting, enjoying life, empty nest, lost dreams.
Deepening Wisdom (sixties): Softening feelings, mellowing wisdom, steady commitments to self and others, deepening richness, simplifying life, adjustment to limitations, loss of energy, financial pressures, retirement, quiet joys, self-knowledge, self-acceptance, facing death.
Twilight Years: Loneliness, freedom from shoulds, dependence on those who once depended on you, mind and body declining at different rates, loss of mate and friends, preparing for death, sense of peace and perspective.
First steps of leadership
The human childhood experience is one of learning about the world, often by building mental models of its functioning and adjusting them when those models no longer hold true. Thus, many of the models against which leaders make their future decisions may have been solidified in early adolescence. Furthermore, Hughes inherited a million dollar company with almost no supervision at the same time as he was experiencing the life stage in which he should be testing his wings, leaving the safety and security of his familys home physically, mentally, and spiritually. Thus, exploring the first steps metaphorically in the world and as a leader is particularly salient in the case of Howard Hughes, Jr, millionaire at age 18, independent and free of almost all familial ties by 21.
Although he spent his first eighteen years being a relatively shy, average individual, immediately after his fathers death in 1924, Hughes began to emerge as the independent and paranoid spirit the world would know him to be. The two early deaths of his parents exaggerated his already formed perception of himself as fragile. He became completely obsessed with his health and feared for early death. During this time, his personality underwent a major change: One searches his youth in vain for a trace of the individualism and rock-hard independence that would govern him as a man (CITE p. 53 Barlett and Steele, YEAR?) As soon as it was possible to do so, he broke things off with people who might have tempered him throughout the rest of his life, such as his Uncle Rupert, executor of the estate. Notably, Hughes accomplished this break through a combination of affiliative, authoritative and coercive strategies. He developed a relationship with the judge who would decide when he might be considered an adult over the course of many months by golfing with him and demonstrating his knowledge of his fathers company, the Hughes Tool Company (often referred to as simply Tool Co), that he strove to manage independently. He then commanded his lawyers, now under his control due to his ownership of a large number of his fathers personal and corporate assets. Finally, he verbally abused his family and forced them to fight him legally until they agreed to sell their portions of the company and leave Hughes alone in control.
PROBABLY NEED TO PROBE OUT THE ANSWER TO THIS:
How do we think this would have positively or adversely affected the things that both he and his company accomplished during his life.
Not only is this the first real glimpse of Hughes independent streak, but it also foreshadows his need for control and his use of charisma and inherent power to get what he wanted that resurfaced throughout his life. During the struggle to control Tool Co, Hughes lost his trust for his Uncle Rupert and other family members who had often supported him in other turbulent times in his life. His Uncle Rupert was the one who told him about his mothers death, comforted him during that time, and helped him through his fathers death. Now, to Hughes, Uncle Rupert had become his biggest enemy. Trusting so few people and choosing to live life alone would have repercussions both personally and professionally for the rest of his life.
Hughes charm, first evidenced with his ability to persuade the judge to grant him legal adulthood and control of Tool Co, was demonstrated again shortly after when he convinced his aunt Annette and the mother of his future wife, Ella Rice, to persuade her to marry him. Annette, fearful of sending Hughes to California, where he planned to move, alone convinced Ellas mother that they must marry so that he would be accompanied out West. Although they divorced only five years later, the marriage to Ella is what enabled him to travel to California and to Hollywood and may be what changed his self-perception of a somewhat awkward youth to that of a confident philandering young man.
Becoming a media mogul
Hughess second major life stage, that of building the nest, began in 1925 with his marriage to Anne Rice and relocation to California. He was only 20 years old, but already a very wealthy man, and with virtually unchecked access to that wealth. Like most people in this stage of their life, Hughes was optimistic about his own powers and believed that he was somewhat indestructible. However, Hughes reacted to this life stage in a very particular way, due both internal (his traits and behaviors) and external factors (the resources available to him).
Hughess first entry into Hollywood was financing Swell Hogan, a movie so bad that it was never released. His second movie was Everybodys Acting, which made a modest profit. With only these small endeavors under his belt, Hughes committed fully to making movies. He moved into a permanent home and amended the charter of Caddo Rock Drill Bit Company of Louisiana (a Tool Co. company) to allow it to finance his films. Still playing the role of financier and not that of the true leader in the next movie Two Arabian Knights Hughes was able to quietly absorb the technical side of filmmaking. [CITATION?] Hid desire to learn all of the different aspects of film-making was most likely prompted by his need to be in complete control, a need which was illustrated in his next major undertaking.
The production of Hells Angels was probably the single biggest indication of need for control in this stage of his life. From the beginning, he exerted himself on the process - after firing two directors over conflicts to decide that he was the best choice to direct his epic story. The three year production produced many anecdotes about Hughess actions and behavior. They all had one thing in common - his need for control of the process was complete. From forcing stunt pilots to perform dangerously to get the exact right shot to re-filming nearly the entire movie to add dialogue, every element had to be exactly as Hughes dictated. Hughes needed total control over each aspect that he was involved in, and he was obsessed with being involved in every aspect.
However, unlike most people, who are willing to take informed smart risks (say, in an entrepreneurial spirit), Hughes constantly gambled it all, apparently on a whim. His actions in creating Hells Angels were contrary to the way things were done, the recommendations of everyone he knew, and, at times, simple common sense. He was completely obsessed (to the ruin of his marriage), not willing - not able - to quit, as he saw anything less than widespread success as failure. Yet, he did not seem to view his actions as crazy risk taking. As stated, many young adults view themselves as indestructible. Therefore, despite the vast resources at his disposal, his risks may not have been more farfetched, to him, than those taken on by the average person at the beginning of their second life stage.
Interestingly enough, there was one large area of his life in which he did demonstrate the same desire to exert his authority. It was this area, Tool Co., that was responsible for allowing him to maintain his lifestyle and pursue his interests. Yet, he appeared to have little interest in controlling it, at least in managing it on a daily basis. As long as it continued to bankroll his other activities for which he was much more passionate, he seemed content to let others run it.
The situational factors of Hughess existence played a large role in his successes and failures. The time in which Hughes operated during this part of his life was very different than today. Hughes treated Tool Co.s wealth as his own, spending it discriminately, something that would not be possible in todays world of responsibility (and accountability) to shareholders. The media was smaller and easier controlled, and proliferation of information was much slower and different in days before cable television and the Internet. Hughes was able to control (always controlling) the way people saw him and what they knew of him in a way that would not be possible today.
Hughess need for control seemed itself uncontrollable. After the Hells Angels experience, he seemed to realize that he needed, as a leader, to delegate authority. In a rare 1932 interview, he confessed that making Hell's Angels himself was his biggest mistake: "It would have been finished sooner and cost less. I had to worry about money, sign checks, hire pilots, get planes, cast everything, direct the whole thing. Trying to do the work of twelve men was just dumbness on my part. I learned by bitter experience that no one man can know everything." However, despite this apparent understanding, Hughes was never able to put this lesson into practice. Throughout his whole life, he routinely disregarded its wisdom, and consistently interfered with, second-guessed and denied authority to his subordinates.
End this section with a discussion about how the later movies began to falter. This appeared to be just a misunderstanding on his part of the context within which he was operating. The scandalous movies then would barely be PG today, etc. Also, he began to lose some interest and split time between his other passion . Aviation (and thus, TWA).
Changing the landscape of the modern airline industry
Not yet thirty years old, on September 13, 1935, Hughes set a new land-speed record with his H-1 plane. He followed this up just two years later with a new trans-continental record. During this stage of life, most adults are looking to move up a career ladder while at the same time recognizing what they can and cant accomplish in life. Hughes, however, had apposition from which there was no moving up the corporate ladder. Head of his own company for over a decade at this point, Hughes began looking for other areas to dominate. Given the popular fascination with aviation at the time, and Hughess personal enjoyment of flying, the airline industry was a likely next target. In his personal life, Hughes was in the midst of divorcing his first wife and dating multiple Hollywood starlets. Viewed as a point of pride and acquisition, these women fit well into the model that Hughes was trying to build up his own personal and career treasure chest by dominating multiple industries and controlling multiple women.
Hughes acquired effective control of TWA in 1937 and performed the final acquisition in 1939, as he moved developmentally in to a stage of life that often includes deep questioning of goals and actions, an awareness of mortality, and the changing of friends and careers. To what extent Hughes was prepared to go through these transitions is unclear, and some might argue that he showed real developmental delay at this point. IN his career, he was able to make huge difference in the airline industry, including destroying the monopoly that Pan Am held on long distance air travel. At the same time, many argue that TWA was almost brought to ruin with his aberrant management style and that all the TWAs achievement were actually due to other people and in years where he did not perform full control: although he did much to transform TWA into a major international carrier, his secretive ways and quixotic decisions nearly plunged the airline into bankruptcy. [NEED CITATION]
As a leader, it is significant to note that during this time period, Hughes displayed remarkable tenacity at completing projects that would have been abandoned by most leaders and possibly should have been abandoned by him. Prior successes with Tool Co, which likely had little to do with him as a manager or leader, allowed him to travel down veritable rat holes building planes that would never fly or fly only once and chase accomplishments like around the world flight records. He also displayed a pattern of lying to both the Tool Co managers who controlled much of his finances and to the public. The end result of all of this lying, secrecy, and unending stubbornness to complete certain projects was a work force that although loyal did not trust him. He paid his workers, particularly those closest to him, very well, and it is probably that it was only this extremely high level of pay that kept these employees so loyal. There are certainly reports that many of the employees both of Tool Co and of other subsidiaries believed Hughes to be crazy and/or incompetent. [NEED CITATION and probably quote]
Until after World War II, there existed no real defense industry in the United States as we know it today. Instead, regular industry would be mobilized to prepare materials needed during war times. Hughes was one of the first pioneers who chose to explicitly target making and selling airplanes to the military as part of the movement towards a regular defense industry. Not unlike many of the businesses of the defense industry today, Hughes veiled his plans in secrecy and ignored regulations and protocols, instead choosing to entertain military purchase agents and slather them with lavish gifts. This behavior, also the behavior of other airplane industry executives at the time, set a dangerous precedent for military contracts the effects of which we live with still today as evidenced by recent scandals and reports of corruption with Halliburton and other companies in Iraq.
Hughes used his charm, power, and authority to convince military decision makers of the need for a new spy plane (the XF-11) and a fleet of giant flying boats (later to be known as the Spruce Goose). By nature of his financial and legal control of his companies, he was then able to push forward with these plans and force his employees to follow his vision regardless of their opinions. Hughes acted virtually unchecked at this point by regulators, by high level executives in his own company, nor by anyone in his personal life given his breakup with Katherine Hepburn and other women. With no one to temper his risk taking and stubborn need to control things and to finish everything he started, Hughes nearly drove himself to the brink of destruction during this time period. It was only towards the end of the 1950s and early 1960s that Hughes began to demonstrate some desire for stability and quieter success. During this time he married again, sold RKO pictures, answered allegations over bad political contributions, and prepared to sell TWA (which he did sell in 1966). This behavior fits well within the model of life stages, because the fifties is usually the time of settling down and looking for more stability and wisdom. Hughes may not have exhibited these behaviors at all times and certainly was still known for taking large, probably unnecessary risks, and for needing control of his world. He did, however, begin to shift toward a more stable life during this time. If not for the mental breakdowns and signs of cognitive decline that marked his end years, he may have left the world as so many do, calm and much more wise. As we will discuss in the next section, however, a combination of his tendencies toward needing control and maintaining secrecy mixed with serious cognitive and physical decline, led to a very different ending for a man so enigmatic and self-destructive for much of his life.
Adjustments to a leadership style during declining years
Towards the end of his life Hughes seemed to lose the battle against his eccentricities and phobias. By 19> he had moved to Las Vegas and completely secluded himself in his penthouse hotel room, refusing to come into direct contact (first in person and finally even by phone) with anyone, safe his small staff of personal attendants. His only means of communication with the outside world (including his vast empire) were handwritten memos to and from his lieutenant, Robert Mahau, the television, which he watched incessently, and an occasional newspaper. He was completely at the mercy of Mahau (and his attendants) with regard to any control he could exert.
The root of this self-imposed exile from the world was his fear of death, specifically of germs. That deep-rooted fear, first instilled by his mother and furthered by the early death of his parents, only grew and grew as he got older. By this time, he was in constant terror for his life, believing that anything he came into contact with was contaminated and could potentially kill him. Those responsible for his food preparation were given complete manuals on protocol, including items such as washing numerous times during the process, scrubbing the outside of a can before opening, and never coming into direct contact with any of the food itself. He even went so far as to have three newspapers delivered each day, so that he could take the middle one, knowing it to be untouched.
On the other hand, he felt that he himself was pure, going weeks and months without bathing, letting the sheets on his bed (where he spent every waking moment when he was not in the bathroom) be changed only a couple times a year. He never cut his hair or nails, and stored his bodily excrements in bottles around his room, which was also never cleaned or emptied of garbage.
This fear of death spilled over directly into his professional dealings (in other than the obvious ways), by manifesting itself in an unnatural obsession with the nuclear bomb testing going on in the Nevada desert. He dedicated much of his professional life (and late-night insomnia) to trying to get these bombs stopped, going so far as to attempt to bribe two presidents (Johnson and Nixon) to have them stopped. Although his efforts eventually failed (in his eyes), he did achieve much more success at control in this political arena than would be expected of a single individual. Despite the apparently insane behavior and frequent mad ravings to Mahau, Hughes succeeded in wielding an awesome power from a limited vantage point.
It is true that Mahau could be considered a mastermind behind the nuclear (and all other) efforts during this time. In fact, some of Hughes's ideas and plots seemed inane - his idea to bribe the President of the United States (which Mahau lied to Hughes about having done) was clearly ill-conceived. However, much of the political manuevouring and scheming did originate with Hughes himself, showing his profound understanding of people, even in this demented state.
Despite Hughes's great control over others, his phobias definitely controlled him. Aside from the great (misplaced) energy he expended in attempting to stop the bomb testing, Hughes's racism, instilled by his mother, was also responsible for at least one detremental business decision. For several years Hughes had worked to manipulate the system to allow him to purchase the ABC network. The FCC blocked his bid because no networks were supposed to be owned by a single individual. He and his people lobbied tirelessly to exert enough political power to allow the purchase to go through. On the eve of victory (having completely won the battle), Hughes saw an episode of The Dating Game broadcast on ABC. It featured an interracial match. Despite arguing in his memos to Mahau that his complaints were over other issues (such as the presence of a child on that particular episode), he decided that he had no interest in owning a network which would broadcast such a thing, and cancelled his takeover attempt.
Conclusions and Reflections
Blah blah blah
John Gardner (1989) On Leadership, New York: Free Press.
TJ Neff, JM Citrin, PB Brown (1999) Lessons from the Top: The Search for America's Best Business Leaders, New York: Currency/Doubleday.
Bree A. Hayes (2005), personal correspondence.
Walter F. Pilcher, "Hughes, Howard Robard, Jr." The Handbook of Texas Online.
http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/HH/fhu60.html, accessed 2005;
R.M. Youngjohn, (1999)Is leadership trait theory fact or fiction?: a meta-analytic investigation of the relationship between individual differences and leader effectiveness, dissertation, Texas A&M University.
Tuesday, 11 March 2008, 6:09:07 pm
very sad life
Last modified 27 November 2013 at 7:47 pm by ks4003296.ip-142-4-209.net