Howard Hughes: The Hurricane of High Returns

Howard Hughes: The Hurricane of High Returns

By Charles Joseph | Editor, Financial Affairs
Reviewed by Corey Michael | Senior Financial Analyst

Howard Hughes was an American business magnate and film director, remembered for his wealthy lifestyle and innovative work in aviation. Hughes, born in 1905, inherited his family’s successful tool company. He then ventured into various fields, including the film and aviation industries, which allowed him to amass a fortune. Hughes produced multiple critically acclaimed films and controlled the airline, Trans World Airlines, for some time. His contributions to aviation also included setting various airspeed records, and designing and building aircraft via Hughes Aircraft, a subsidiary of his tool company. His life, however, was also marked by his eccentric behavior and recluse nature. Hughes died in 1976 but left an indelible mark on American business and aviation industries.

1. Howard Hughes’s Career in the Film Industry and Achievements

Howard Hughes entered the film industry in 1926, using his wealth to become an influential figure in Hollywood. One of his early successes was the war film “Hell’s Angels”, which was notable for its cinematic advancements and aerial combat scenes. He also produced the film “Scarface” in 1932, which became a classic gangster movie.

Also known for his pursuits in developing talent, Hughes signed and nurtured many leading actors at the time, aiding their rise in Hollywood. His unique perspective on film production led to a diverse range of films that were both commercially and critically successful. His innovative storytelling, which frequently pushed societal boundaries, provoked public interest and even controversy.

Despite challenges and criticisms, Hughes’s film career was filled with notable milestones. He won the first-ever Academy Award for Best Director for his work on “Two Arabian Knights” in 1929. This particular achievement encapsulated Hughes’s impact on the film industry and his ongoing commitment to cinematic excellence.

2. His Innovations and Contributions to Aviation

Howard Hughes’s passion for aviation was as significant as his involvement in the film industry. Following his entry into the aviation industry in the 1930s, Hughes became known for his daring as a pilot and his innovative ideas as a designer of aircraft.

In 1935, he set a new airspeed record by flying his H-1 Racer, a plane designed and built by Hughes’s aircraft company, at an average speed of 352 miles per hour. He continued this streak of setting exceptional airspeed records over the years, bolstering his reputation as an aviation pioneer.

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“The Spruce Goose”, a gigantic wooden aircraft conceived during World War II intended to transport troops and materials across the Atlantic, remained one of Hughes’s most ambitious aviation projects. Despite only making a single short flight, its design embodied Hughes’s grand vision and innovation in aviation. Years later, he also gained control of Trans World Airlines (TWA), steering it to become a leading international airline, further showcasing his impact in the aviation industry.

3. Howard Hughes’s Personal Life and Eccentricities

Though highly successful, Howard Hughes was also known for his eccentric and reclusive nature. Throughout his life, Hughes displayed unusual behavior and habits that set him apart from his contemporaries. This was most evident in his later years when his isolation and mental health struggles became more pronounced.

Often resistant to following common social norms, Hughes had a tendency towards obsessive-compulsive behavior. His fear of germs and incessant focus on cleanliness and routine raised public curiosity. These factors gradually led him to withdraw from the public eye.

Despite his eccentric lifestyle, Hughes’s impact on various industries remained undiminished. Up until his death in 1976, he continued to play a vital role in several industries. His life story continues to fascinate, prompting discussions and analyses about the link between creativity, success, and mental health.


Howard Hughes was an iconic figure in American history, leaving a sizable footprint in both the film and aviation industries. Despite his eccentricities and reclusive personality, Hughes’s innovations, daring, and pursuit of excellence continue to captivate the public imagination, underscoring his enduring legacy.

Key Takeaways

  • Howard Hughes was a prominent American business magnate, deeply involved in the film and aviation industries.
  • He produced several iconic films, including “Hell’s Angels” and “Scarface”, and won an Academy Award for Best Director.
  • Hughes’s contributions to aviation include setting airspeed records, creating innovative aircraft, and shaping Trans World Airlines into a leading international airline.
  • Despite his significant achievements, Hughes is also known for his eccentric behavior and reclusive lifestyle later in his life.
  • His life story combines success, innovation, and mental health struggles, making him a fascinating figure in American history.
  • Related Questions

    1. What were some notable films produced by Howard Hughes?

    Some of Howard Hughes’s notable productions include “Hell’s Angels”, “Scarface”, and “Two Arabian Knights.”

    2. How did Howard Hughes impact the aviation industry?

    Howard Hughes made significant contributions to aviation by setting airspeed records, designing innovative aircraft, and steering Trans World Airlines to international prominence.

    3. How did Howard Hughes’s personal life affect his public image?

    Howard Hughes’s personal life, marked by his eccentric behavior and reclusive habits, contributed to a public image filled with intrigue and curiosity.

    4. What mental health struggles did Howard Hughes experience?

    Howard Hughes exhibited obsessive-compulsive behaviors and had a deep-seated fear of germs, which led to his increasing withdrawal from public life.

    5. What is Howard Hughes’s legacy in American history?

    Howard Hughes’s legacy is significant and multi-dimensional. He left enduring impacts on the film and aviation industries, and his distinctive life story continues to captivate public and scholarly interest.