Howard Hughes

Throughout the 20th century, it has been the mediaís job to pinpoint what
events and people would prove to be an effective story. This was certainly the
case for Howard R. Hughes. Son to the wealthy Howard Hughes Sr., Howard became
the interest of the American people and newspapers for most of his life. Being
deemed one of the most famous men of the mid-20th century was greatly attributed
to Hughesís skills as an industrialist, aviator, and motion-picture producer
combined with his enormous wealth, intellect, and achievement. The media thrived
on Howardís unusual and sometimes scandalous life, especially in his later
years when newspapers would frequently front large amounts of money to get
stories on Hughes. Howard was also associated with what has been called one of
the greatest publishing hoaxes in history. Howard Hughes Sr., commonly known as

Big Howard, was a graduate of the Harvard School of Law, yet never once appeared
before a court of law. Big Howard spent the first 36 years of his life chasing
money across the Texas plains, as a wildcatter and a speculator in oil leases,
working hard enough and earning just enough to move on to another, hopefully
more fortunate gamble. In the year of his marriage, Big Howard sold leases on
land that proved to have $50,000 in oil beneath it. He promptly took his new
wife to Europe for a honeymoon, and returned exactly $50,000 poorer. In 1908,

Big Howard turned his ingenuity and his hobby to tinker into good fortune.

Current drilling technology was unable to penetrate the thick rock of southwest

Texas and oilmen could only extract the surface layers of oil, unable to tap the
vast resources that lay far below. Big Howard came up with the idea for a
rolling bit, with 166 cutting edges and invented a method to keep the bit
lubricated as it tore away at the rock. Later that year, Big Howard produced a
model and went into business with his leasing partner, Walter B. Sharp, forming
the Sharp-Hughes Tool Company. Rather than sell the bits to oil drillers, Hughes
and Sharp decided to lease the bits out on a job basis, for the tidy sum of
$30,000 per well. With no competitor able to duplicate this new technology,

Sharp- Hughes Tool possessed a profitable monopoly over oil extraction. So
quickly was the invention successful that in late 1908, the partners built a
factory on a seventy-acre site east of Houston. On 1915, Sharp passed away and

Big Howard purchased his shares in the corporation, thus becoming the sole
owner. Cash flowed freely into and back out of Sharp-Hughes Tool. Big Howard
became a first class socialite, and began to spend increasing amounts of time
and money on parties, automobile racing and travel. One of his amusements was to
charter a railroad car, fill it with friends, and conduct a rolling party
between Texas and California. In the spring of 1921, Mrs. Hughes past away and

Big Howard died as abruptly as his wife, willing his three- fourths of his
estate to his only son, Howard Robard Hughes. Big Howard left an estate
appraised for tax purposed at $871,518. As a less attractive part of his legacy,
he left behind $258,000 in unpaid bills, including $2,758 to Brook Brothers

Clothiers, $5,502 to Cartierís in New York, and $3,500 for a grand piano.

Howard Hughes Jr. was born on Christmas Eve, 1906 in Houston, Texas. He was
commonly known as Sonny, or Little Howard, despite the fact that he was 6í3"
by the age of 16. Hughes was the student of 7 different schools, of which he
graduated from none, excelling only in mathematics. As a young man, Hughes had a
penchant for all things mechanical and was known to spend hours tinkering on
various different devices. Little Howard had only one friend, the son his
fatherís business partner, Dudley Sharp. At the age of 6, Howard Hughes Sr.
presented his son with the gift of a workshop, where his son could always be
found playing with various bits of wires and pieces of metal. At the age of 11,

Little Howard built his own ham radio, and at the age of 13, when he refused the
gift of a motorcycle, Hughes built one for himself, taking parts from his
fatherís steam car. As a graduate of Harvard, Big Howard sought his son to
have the same education, and sent his son to boarding school in Massachusetts in
fall of 1919. After one year had passed it became apparent that Sonny was not
going to succeed in grooming school.