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Howard Hughes is just as well known for his reclusive nature as he is for his careers as a manufacturer, aviator, and film producer. He was born in Houston, Texas in 1905. By the time he was fourteen, he was already flying, a love that would stay with him and influenced his early career decisions. He began his college education at the California Institute of Technology and later went to Houston to study at the Rice University. When he was seventeen, both parents died and he took over the Hughes Tool Company, his father's business.

When he was just twenty-one, he moved to Hollywood and started his film production career. Films he made include: Hell's Angels in 1930, Scarface in 1932, and The Outlaw in 1941. He was responsible for introducing the actor Paul Muni and the actresses Jean Harlow and Jane Russell to filmgoers all over the world. He became chief stockholder in the RKO Pictures Corporation and became owner of the company in 1954. Then he sold it in 1955, but he kept his position as Chairman of the Board.

He designed an airplane and set a record landspeed of 352.46 miles per hour in September of 1935. He set a transcontinental record in 1937. In 1938, he continued his record-setting ability by flying around the world in only 91 hours and 14 minutes.

He was responsible for founding the Hughes Aircraft Company in California. Since his fortune was already considerable, he donated his profits to start the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. By now Hughes was a multimillionaire. He owned hotels in Las Vegas, and he bought enough shares in TWA to make himself chief shareholder. The government filed an antitrust lawsuit against him, though, causing him to lose command of TWA. He didn't lose out completely, though, because he got over $500 million for the sale of his stock in 1966.

Beginning in 1950, Hughes started isolating himself. The government's lawsuit was the first of several suits against him, and he spent the last years of his life living all over the world in Nicaragua, England, Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Hughes was not seen often during his last years, except by the men who attended him. He continued working, but didn't eat right and took too many drugs. On the way from Mexico to the United States to get medical help, Howard Hughes passed away on April 5, 1976.