Howard Hughes, a very innovative man, who was constantly
seeking out ways to increase his wealth. He excelled at school,
aviation, and the filming industry. It wasn’t until later in
life, after moving to Las Vegas, that he discovered his true
calling in the hotel and casino industry which brought him in
thousands of millions of dollars in revenue.
Through purchasing multiple resorts and other real-estate out
from the hands of mobsters, he would soon change the image of
Las Vegas forever. Thanks to Hughes, we now view Las Vegas as a
place of riches and glamour, instead of a city filled of crime
It was Christmas eve, 1905 when Howard Robard Hughes Jr.
entered the world. He was born in Humble, Texas to his mother,
Allene Stone Gano and his father, Howard Robard Hughes Sr., who
invented the two-cone bit drill which made drilling for
petroleum significantly easier and brought in millions of
dollars in revenue.
Hughes was very innovative even during his childhood. At
eleven years of age, he built Houston’s first wireless radio
transmitter and at twelve, he had developed his very own
motorized bicycle. Hughes excelled at math, and he used those
math skills for many of his creations then and in the future.
When Hughes was only sixteen years of age his mother died
from complications with her pregnancy. Only about two short
years later, his father died of a fatal heart attack leaving
Hughes an orphan who inherited his entire family fortune.
Early Business Endeavors
Even though Hughes was attending the prestigious Rice
University at the time, he happily dropped out to take over the
family company, “Hughes Tool Company.” Hughes bought out all of
his relatives’ shares of the company so that he could have sole
Hughes used revenue from Hughes Tool Company as he ventured
into a variety of different enterprises over the course of his
lifetime. In 1930, Hughes started directing and producing
Hollywood movies. He is most famous for his contributions to
Hell’s Angel’s, Scarface, and The Outlaw.
Hughes also founded Hughes Aircraft Company where he and a
group of trained engineers designed, built, and test flew the
aircraft. Hughes set many aviation records, but he is most
famous for setting the world record for the fastest completed
flight around the world. He accomplished this in just 91 hours.
Hughes survived many airplane crashes, but in 1946 he
experienced his most serious plane crash yet. He flew into a
residential home near Beverly Hills, leaving almost every bone
in his body either fractured or broken. The morphine prescribed
to him for this pain would eventually lead to a life-long
addiction to that drug and other pain-killers.
He had always suffered from paranoia and obsessive compulsive
disorder, but his symptoms got increasingly worse after his drug
addiction forcing him to stay in isolation. Despite Hughes’ pain
and suffering, he was still thinking about new ways he could
expand his wealth.
Rise to Impact Las Vegas
Nevada was an ideal place for Hughes to open up a business,
as they didn’t have any corporate or personal taxes at the time.
On Thanksgiving Day of 1966, Hughes arrived in Las Vegas to
start his career in the gambling and casino industry.
When Hughes arrived in Las Vegas, he was ushered into the
penthouse of the Desert Inn where he would isolate himself for
the next four years while he developed ideas that would change
Las Vegas forever.
After complaints from the owner about Hughes over staying his
welcome, he decided to buy the entire hotel. After realizing
quickly how profitable hotels and casinos can be, he went on to
purchase many more of them, taking them out from the hands of
Hughes acquired a small group of professional to help him
handle the business side of his purchases. They were
unofficially named, “The Mormon Mafia,” because many of the
members were also Latter-day Saints.
With their help, Hughes bought the Silver Slipper, the
Frontier, Alamo Airways, the Castaways, the Landmark, the Sands,
and thousands of acres of undeveloped land. He even bought the
North Las Vegas Airport.
He owned nearly one third of the real-estate on Las Vegas’
Strip after spending more than $65 million on these investments
over the course of one year. In 1968, Hughes tried to buy one
more resort, the Stardust, but the United States Justice
Department intervened, issuing a monopoly lawsuit against him.
Hughes was known as the powerful force responsible for
driving mobsters out of the city. He helped change Las Vegas’
image around by turning it into a legitimate gambling industry
that would later be known as a place of glamour and high-status,
rather than a place of high crime.
Despite Hughes good intentions, he didn’t know anything about
running a casino, so he was obliged to keep the majority of the
previous employees from the casinos he purchased. Many of them
had been skimming the profits of both Hughes and the IRS,
costing Hughes over 50 million dollars of lost revenue over the
course of four years. In 1970, soon after the scandal had been
discovered, Hughes left Las Vegas for good and headed for the
He was first married to Ella Botts Rice in 1925, but their
marriage only lasted four years, because Rice couldn’t handle
his increasing fame. Hughes was always considered to be a
ladies’ man, dating a plethora of actresses during his prime.
In the late 1950s, Hughes got remarried to his second wife,
Jean Peters, who he claimed was the only women he ever truly
loved. She filed for divorce in 1970, because she hadn’t seen
Hughes in over two years. Despite being offered millions of
dollars in a settlement, she only asked for $70,000 a year.
In 1973, Hughes was inducted into the National Aviation Hall
of Fame, based on his numerous accomplishments which include the
development of many diverse aircraft carriers and the various
aviation records he had broken.
In April of 1976, at age 70, Hughes died from the result of
kidney failure. He left behind hundreds of millions of dollars
and a lasting impact on Las Vegas that we can clearly see today.
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