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HOWARD TAKES CONTROL (Illustration) American History Biographies Film Social Studies STEM Tragedies and Triumphs Trials Aviation & Space Exploration

This portrait of Howard Hughes, taken sometime during the 1920s at LA’s Ambassador Hotel, depicts Hughes as he appeared not long after the death of his parents. The image—number 0321 0048—is online via the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, University Libraries. Click on the image for a better view.

 

An 18-year-old high school dropout when his father died, Howard Hughes was determined to run his own affairs.

He didn't want "Uncle Rupe" to manage his majority interest in the Hughes estate. He was vocal about his doubts that Rupert (who would soon write an acclaimed three-volume biography of George Washington) could capably manage Howard's seventy-five-percent interest in Hughes Tool.

Alienating his family even further, Hughes told his representatives to buy-out his relatives' minority interest in the company. That was accomplished within six months of his father's death.

Caring little for laws which prohibited him for running the business until he was twenty-one, Howard went to court on his nineteenth birthday and successfully convinced the judge - a friend of Hughes Sr. - that he should be declared an 'adult' while still a teenager.

Once that order was entered - two days after the request was filed and less than a year after his father's death - Hughes was legally able to run the company.

Smart enough to realize he needed help, Howard searched for people who could give him guidance. The year after his father died, he hired Noah Dietrich, an accountant, whom experts widely credit for making Hughes a billionaire - America's first.

Robert Maheu, who later become Howard's chief adviser, said of Noah:

He was delivering Howard profits of $50 to $55 million a year. Big bucks in those days.

Already thinking the Hughes fortune should one day be applied to the field of medicine, young Howard wrote a will, in 1925, which provided that a medical research facility would be created at his death. He then married Ella Rice, whose great-uncle William Marsh Rice was the founder of Rice Institute (now Rice University).

The young couple (she was two years older than he) moved to Hollywood where Howard would soon actualize his father's unfulfilled dream:  to make movies.

He was not yet twenty-one years old.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5186stories and lessons created

Original Release: Dec 01, 2005

Updated Last Revision: Mar 22, 2018


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