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Honoring a True American Pioneer on His 100th Birthday

Posted by Bruce Carroll at 3:29 pm - December 23, 2005.
Filed under: American History,Great Americans

When I was growing up, the name “Howard Hughes” brought media-fueled images of an old hermit, huddled naked in his room with long fingernails and billions of dollars to his name.

And that was the image I had of Howard Hughes until Martin Scorcese’s wonderful film, The Aviator, came out last year and debunked that one-dimensional portrait. Since that time I have read a couple of books and watched a couple of DVD documentaries in my determination to learn more about this true American pioneer that his peers neglected after his death, and now whom history appears to be giving his rightful rehabilitation.

Tomorrow — December 24, 2005 — marks the 100th birthday of Howard Robard Hughes, born in Humble, Texas. He was truly an American original, an engineering genius, a man with a serious mental disorder (OCD), and a man who has had a significant impact on American culture since the time he stepped foot in Hollywood in the mid-1920s. A lot is known about his womanizing, eccentric behavior and tragic last years of his life. But not enough is told to the American public about what a fascinating, driven, brilliant and important man Hughes was to our nation.

There are too many milestones in Hughes’ life to try to note all of them in this short posting. So I will try to pick out a few that I believe have had the most long-term impact on American culture, science, business and politics:

– 1927 – Began filming Hell’s Angels, the most expensive Hollywood production of the time for which Hughes assembled the largest private air force in the world.

– 1935-38 – Hughes becomes an aviation hero, eclipsing Charles Lindbergh, by first setting the fastest land-speed record, then transcontinental speed record, then the record for fastest trip around the world in 1938.

– 1943 – As director of The Outlaw, Hughes created a firestorm among Hollywood censors by featuring Jane Russell’s cleavage. He would also invent the underwire push-up bra which Russell would model for years later.

– 1946 – Nearly killed in a crash of a prototype Air Force jet. While in the hospital, Hughes invented the automatic hospital bed.

– 1946-49 – As principle shareholder of TransWorld Airlines, Hughes the first cost-effective air routes to Europe and South America from the USA.

– 1941-56 – Turns Hughes Aircraft into multi-billion dollar empire and key supplier of air defense to the United States during WWII and the early Cold War. Hughes also conceived and manufactured the “air-to-air missle” technology, considered the most important development in the defense of North America since radar was invented.

– 1966-1970 – Hughes singlehandedly wrestled control of Las Vegas casinos from the mafia bosses from the East Coast. Modern-day Las Vegas moguls, including Steve Wynn, credit Hughes with creating the Las Vegas entertainment mecca that we know and love today.

– 1972 – Many now believe that the Watergate break-in was ordered mostly due to Hughes’ hiring of former Kennedy aide Larry O’Brien who became DNC Chairman and whose office was at the infamous hotel. President Nixon had a long-standing fear of Hughes’ power throughout his presidency.

There is no doubt that Hughes should rank as one of the most important figures of the 20th Century. Unfortunately, his mental deterioration and personal issues have clouded the image that most Americans have of this giant of industry and pop culture. I would highly recommend anyone interested in knowing more of the facts about Hughes, including the most recent information about his fight with obsessive-compulsive disorder, to read the great book, “Howard Hughes – The Untold Story“.

I would like to salute Howard Hughes in advance of his 100th Birthday tomorrow. I would also like to thank Martin Scorcese and Leonardo diCaprio for turning the horrible image I had of a crazy hermit fade into a truly three-dimensional picture of a fascinating American hero.

-Bruce (GayPatriot)



  1. Bruce I LOVED _The Aviator_ as well, and agree Hughes is a hero of capitalism, technology and modern life.

    I didn’t know he invented the automatic hospital bed!

    I’m a Simpsons fan, and sadly, “Mr. Burns” was reportedly modeled on all the worst or most unfair stereotypes about Howard Hughes (and capitalism in general).

    The political-commentary part of The Simpsons is generally its weakest part – especially the last 2-3 years, as they have gotten incredibly preachy and dull on behalf of Leftist canards. (As opposed to their first 10-11 years, when they would try to lampoon Left and Right equally and with some kind of wit.)

    Comment by Calarato — December 23, 2005 @ 7:42 pm - December 23, 2005

  2. Bruce, a wee correction: Hughes was injured while testing a prototype recon aircraft powered by piston engines fitted with props, not a jet.

    That is all.


    Comment by Clem — December 23, 2005 @ 11:41 pm - December 23, 2005

  3. I didn’t know he was born in Humble. I used to live down the road in Spring and went to Humble quite a bit. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything mentioning his birthplace. I knew he was from the Houston area though. I wonder where-abouts in Humble.
    There’s still a huge Baker-Hughes Inteq facility nearby with other offices in the Houston area as well as around Texas.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — December 24, 2005 @ 2:11 am - December 24, 2005

  4. Howard and i were ‘secret’ lovers during my many years in the Hitler Youth… oh how i miss him…

    Comment by HisHolynessDPope — December 24, 2005 @ 2:57 am - December 24, 2005

  5. The true tragedy is what might Hughes had been capable-of if his minions had intervened and seen to it that he had the help he needed, rather than covering-up and co-enabling his obvious imbalances for their personal gain.

    Comment by Ted B. (Charging Rhino) — December 27, 2005 @ 6:42 pm - December 27, 2005

  6. Hi everyone! It’s Sally Jo Bowen here, and I’m new to the Blog thing. Congratulations Guys, on a job well done. Super Blog Design, and the Template Setup!

    Comment by Workmans Compensation — March 21, 2006 @ 4:37 pm - March 21, 2006

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