From The Library Of 'Life'

The Life Of Howard Hughes In Photos

Thirty-five years ago today, Howard Hughes died, somewhat fittingly, on an airplane en route to a hospital for treatment. Eccentric reclusion in later life — as well as his reputation as a playboy — would somewhat darken his legacy as an entrepreneur, aviator, filmmaker and billionaire.

His biography is a fascinating one, and Life is telling it in pictures. Here are a few.

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    Hughes climbs into the cockpit of his Northrop Gamma H-1 plane (refitted with an engine he helped redesign and retool) in 1937, prior to breaking the speed record for transcontinental flight.
    Note: Life captions edited for length./Courtesy of Life
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    Hughes studies the script as he sits on the set of The Outlaw.
    Bob Landry/Courtesy of Life
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    Seen here with Ava Gardner, Hughes was romantically linked through the years, in fact and in rumor, with the likes of Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Paulette Goddard, Hedy Lamar, Lana Turner and Gene Tierney.
    Courtesy of Life
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    The "Spruce Goose" was 219 feet long, with a wingspan of nearly 320 feet. (Boeing 747s, by contrast, have wingspans ranging from 195 feet in the earliest models to 224 feet.) Hughes' plane had a tail height of nearly 80 feet — roughly that of an eight-story building.
    Courtesy of Life
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    Hughes testifies before a Senate committee after being accused by Sen. Owen Brewster of misusing $40 million in government funds during the development of two planes: the F-11 and the HK-1 ("Spruce Goose"), neither of which was ever successfully delivered to the government.
    Courtesy of Life
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    Howard Hughes sits in the cockpit of the Spruce Goose on the day of its celebrated, long-delayed test flight in 1947.
    Courtesy of Life

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With an inherited fortune from his father, who patented a drill bit used in oil and gas drilling, Hughes financed some of the era's biggest Hollywood blockbusters, including Hell's Angels, Scarface, and The Outlaws, which put actress Jane Russell on the screen for the first time. Incidentally, Hughes was romantically involved with a great number of Hollywood stars.

In addition to Hollywood pursuits, Hughes became a pilot in 1928. He designed, built and flew record-breaking aircraft, founded the Hughes Aircraft Company and was inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame in 1973. One of his most memorable projects was known as "The Spruce Goose" — the largest flying boat ever, made out of wood, which made its only flight in 1947.

Needless to say, there's a lot more to his biography. More of it can be see at Life.

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