Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Howard Hughes, Part III

After the plane crash, Hughes had plastic surgery, and his looks changed considerably – and not for the better. Even so, Hughes was able to entice the 6'4" tall newcomer to Hollywood, Randolph Scott, into an affair. Turns out their fathers had been friends back in the day. When Scott was out trolling for male flesh one night in Griffith Park (a popular place for gay cruising), he propositioned a vice cop and was arrested. Hughes bailed him out and paid a $3,000 bribe to make the arrest disappear. Scott was grateful, but eventually moved on to Cary Grant, with whom he would have a long-term, volatile relationship. However, Jean Harlow claimed that Hughes had three signed photographs of Randolph Scott in his bedroom and stared at them in order to become aroused while having sex with her. During a heated argument with Billie Dove, whom Howard intended to marry, she called him an impotent bastard and a faggot – and she wasn’t kidding. Jean Harlow called him a “deaf faggot.”

Things started to go south for Howard in a big way. After the plane crash he started having debilitating migraine headaches, and his hearing loss worsened. He was having more and more frequent bouts of impotence, especially with women. He started to use cocaine, and he suffered a nervous breakdown, to boot. Once the best dressed man in Hollywood, Hughes began to appear in public in wrinkled, sloppy clothes. Hughes was also becoming involved in dealings with the mob, particularly Bugsy Siegel. Even worse, Howard turned into a scathing bigot, disdainful of Jews and blacks. A rare bright note was the enormous success of The Front Page, a film Hughes produced in 1931.

Howard was blackmailed by Billie Dove’s husband to the tune of $350,000 (Hughes paid up). By the early 1930s Hughes had blown through most of the profits of the Hughes Tool Company. He had used the company’s earnings to bankroll a string of money-losing projects in aviation and film production.

However, his taste in the handsomest men in Hollywood continued unabated: Robert Taylor, Tyrone Power, George O’Brien, Johnny Mack Brown and many, many others. When Clark Gable first arrived in Hollywood, he dropped trou for several influential men, including Billy Haines and Howard – anything to get ahead and become a star. When über-gay George Cukor was directing Gable in Gone with the Wind, he teased him about his earlier dalliances with Haines and Hughes. Gable never spoke to Cukor again while on the set, and he led a successful effort to get Cukor fired (Cukor was replaced by Victor Fleming).

Howard’s attention drifted away from making films to the field of aviation. He became more and more eccentric. For example, all he would eat was rare steak and peas (but they had to be very small peas), and he started buying his clothes from thrift stores. He became hopelessly paranoid and insanely jealous of anyone who threatened to topple him from the mountaintop. His jealousy over the feats of aviation by Charles Lindbergh manifested itself into fits of screaming and profanity. After the kidnaping of Lindbergh’s child, Hughes became obsessed with security.

And that’s where I’m going to stop. Hughes went on to design and manufacture aircraft and forever change the face of Las Vegas. However, his life from this point was a sad lapse into mental illness, self destruction and bizarre behavior, much of it too unsavory to relate. A second plane crash in 1946 left him scarred and addicted to morphine. He ran RKO Pictures into the ground, and did much the same with Trans World Airlines. He later fled to the Bahamas and Mexico to have easier access to codeine, which he personally injected into his arms. He also suffered the effects of tertiary syphilis. His legacy was that of the world’s most eccentric billionaire, and today only his medical research institute carries his banner in a positive light.

Because of his wealth and power, his homosexual proclivities were not well known to the public during his lifetime. However, enough of his employees and colleagues survived after his death in 1976 to be able to speak openly about the subject without fear of reprisal. Turns out they had plenty to talk about.

Howard Hughes: The Secret Life (1993) by Charles Higham
Howard Hughes: Hell’s Angel (2005) by Darwin Porter


  1. This is absurd - do you have any sources to back these claims? Howard Hughes was far from homosexual, some may even argue aggressively heterosexual. Journalism following his death tended to spin this story without a shred of evidence for more attention, paying no mind to his severe disabilities (OCD, multiple head wounds, syphilis). Hughes is one of history's most misunderstood individuals; nobody should find it appalling if he were gay, but it is simply not true. Please cease these claims or, for the love of god, cite your sources.

    1. To yet another reader who leaves a comment "anonymously": buy some biographies and read them, as I have done. Then come back and tell all of us YOUR sources that prove that my biographical post is "simply not true." I don't make this stuff up. If you do your homework, as I have done, you'll find hundreds of instances of H.H.'s homosexual activity. Even a quick use of a search engine will support my facts and disprove your denial.

    2. Not how it works. If you publish something it needs to be sourced or its fiction; that's it.

      Anonymous or not, he's right.

    3. Did you not notice the two books listed at the end of my post?

  2. Excuse me, but Charles Higham is also the man that wrote about how Errol Flynn was a Nazi spy. I am the grandson of Howard Hughes Jr. and I find this post to be libel of the most infamous kind. You should not only research your sources, but the authors that wrote them. The work you have cited here is hardly academic in nature. Your post is just another ongoing collection of lies meant to tarnish the reputation of my Grandfather's name (further). I don't disagree that he might have done some of these things, but the way you describe his "faggotry" makes him look like an ass and a fool. He was neither.

    The legacy of the Hughes Aircraft Company still equates to amazing success. Speed records, the first operational radar guided missile (AIM-4 Hughes Flying Falcon), and the Surveyor III lunar lander. Yet the only decent thing you have to say about him is that "his medical institute" was decent.

    I'll clue you in. There is a disease that runs in our family that causes a great deal of pain within our bodies. He wasn't shooting up Codeine for the pleasure of it. I take Oxycodone for the condition myself.

    Good day.

    1. From your blogger: My, you are one angry grandson. This post was written neither as a well-balanced biography, nor as an academic treatise. This blog relates tales of bisexual and gay men who were successful in their careers. Your grandfather was certainly that. There is also nothing here that is not documented, with sources listed. You are free to disagree with those sources. You call my post a collection of lies, while in the next sentence you state "I don't disagree that he might have done some of these things." Which is it? Your reaction to this post reminds me of the adopted children of Randolph Scott, who to this day vehemently deny that Scott was bisexual, in spite of his well-documented affair with Cary Grant that lasted over a decade. You misquote me. I said that "today" only the Hughes Medical Research Institute carries his banner in a positive light. Speed records, inventions, etc., were glories of the past, not the present. I drive by the Northern Virginia (Janelia) Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute every day on my way to work, with a tip of the hat to his enduring legacy. In spite of the fact that in 1953, when the institute was formed, Hughes set it up as a tax haven for his personal fortune. He was the sole trustee and transferred all his Hughes Aircraft stock to the institute in order to turn the huge defense contractor into a tax-exempt charity. Oh, and re-read my post. I never said or implied that your grandfather shot up codeine for the pleasure of it; I simply stated that he moved to the Bahamas and Mexico to have easier access to codeine. Get that chip off your shoulder. Perhaps you should schedule some therapy for anger management.

    2. I wasn't aware Mr Hughes had children .Grandson??

    3. Well he doesn't have any documented legitimate children...

  3. I'm a little confused, Grandson? I wasn't aware he had children.