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Howard & the cockroach © wood engraving (ed. 40) image: 7 x 5 in. $100.00 (go to "Hi There" for purchase information)
If there was an award for the world's or history's most amazing oddball it must be awarded to Howard Hughes. Howard doesn't need much of an introduction and from the moment he inherited his father's Hughes Tool Company he was able to do just about anything he wanted. There are fascinating stories of his attempts to make his mark in various enterprises such as the Hollywood film industry, aviation, aircraft research and development, invention and raising sunken Soviet submarines for the CIA. Probably his most profoundly odd behavior occurred after Howard became obsessed with avoiding germs and he became a reclusive hermit. To avoid contact with people who may be carrying germs and to establish security in his own way Howard purchased the Las Vegas Desert Inn, where he was staying at the time. He continued to purchase hotels and restaurants in Vegas. His life as an inventor, an aviator , a hermit. his obsessive compulsive behavior and his incredible wealth have been the topic of movies and books. Howard was the focus of a media feeding frenzy when Howard himself stepped forward (or at least his voice did) and claimed that an authorized biography of himself by Clifford Irving was a hoax.

Even in death there was controversy and media hysteria surrounding Howard. An alleged copy of his will was discovered in an office of the LDS Church in Salt Lake City, Utah. This will (dubbed the "Mormon will") divided Howard's estate among various charities, relatives and friends, including Melvin Dummar, who claimed to have picked up a crazy old man in the Nevada desert one night who claimed to be Howard Hughes and drove him to Las Vegas. The "Mormon will" was eventually determined by a Nevada court to be a fake. Recently, controversial evidence has been discovered to collaborate Dummar's story.

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