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Guests Discuss the Late Howard Hughes

Aired January 20, 2002 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Howard Hughes, America's first billionaire is ultimate eccentric. His legendary life story was full of scandals, secrets and strangeness.

Joining us to try to separate fact from fiction, the investigating writer whose done through autopsy reports he classified thousands of documents to produce an incredible new biography, "Hughes: The Private Diaries, Memos and Letters." He's Richard Hack, here in L.A.

With him is actress Jane Russell. Howard Hughes designed a bra to showcase her assets on screen, but he never put any moves on her. Hughes did romance actress Terry Moore. She says they had a "secret wedding at sea," and were never divorced.

We'll also hear from actress Yvonne De Carlo. You probably know her as Mrs. Munster. But when she was one of Howard Hughes lady friends, she was billed as the world's most beautiful girl.

Plus, the man known as Howard Hughes' alter ego, who worked for him nearly 16 years and never met him face to face, the Former Chief Hughes' Nevada Operations, Robert Maheu.

And a columnist who shared champagne with Marilyn Monroe, while Howard Hughes sipped water, journalist and author James Bacon. And they're all next on LARRY KING WEEKEND.

Good evening. Welcome to another edition of LARRY KING WEEKEND. What a show tonight. We're going to look at a remarkable man and truly remarkable book. The book is, "Hughes: The Private Diaries, Memos and Letters." We'll meet the panel later. We'll start with the author, Richard Hack.

A lot of things about Howard Hughes; you know, people hear about many things. But let's really get into some incredible things he did, like in the airplane (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

RICHARD HACK, AUTHOR, "HUGHES: THE PRIVATE DIARIES, MEMOS AND LETTERS": Well, Larry, first of all, you've got to understand, this guy was orphaned when he was a teenager, was given a company worth just under $1 million, and before he died it was worth several billion dollars.

KING: That was Hughes' tool? HACK: That was Hughes' tool originally, which made oil bits, you know, to drill -- the original thing, to get into the ground and get the oil that nobody had at that time. And even to this day, everybody gives...

KING: Still that, yeah.

HACK: Yeah, they say, "You drill in the (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...


KING: And then he got into planes, right?

HACK: Well, at first he went to Hollywood. He did some movies -- the most expensive movies ever made. Some of the worst, I might add, at the same time. He got into aviation when movies sort of fell out of favor with him. And he flew around the world. He set many aviation records. He's in the aviation hall of fame right now. He designed planes himself...

KING: He had a ticker tape parade.

HACK: Oh, he did. He had the largest ticker tape parade in New York City, even to this moment.

KING: And that's one of things revealed, among many things revealed in the terrific book, by the way.

HACK: Oh, well thank you very much Larry.

KING: That was shocking to people that -- who know him as a recluse and everything, would hardly think that Howard Hughes would be in a ticker tape parade or they'd fire -- or he created airplanes, right?

HACK: He did. But, you know, he wouldn't have done that ticker tape parade if they didn't include every single one of his crew on that plane. They only wanted to showcase him and take him down into the thing, and he said, "Absolutely not. If my crew doesn't come along, either will I." And for that very reason he was there. And, you know, at that moment, he was living with Katharine Hepburn. Did you know that? And she was watching from her brownstone.

KING: I read it in your book.

HACK: Oh, thank you Larry.

KING: Lindbergh flew the Atlantic...

HACK: That's right.

KING: ... Howard Hughes flew the world.

HACK: That's true. He also flew the Atlantic on the way, of course. But when Lindbergh flew the Atlantic, Howard Hughes was much younger than Lindbergh... KING: Sure.

HACK: ... and he was enamored by that and started to have a heroism complex with Lindbergh and several other aviators.

KING: Did he design the Constellation?

HACK: He helped design it. One thing about Hughes was that he was -- he was an amazing -- amazing conceptualizer. He came up with concepts and had no clue how to make them realities. So he paid for you or me or anybody else who could come up and make his designs real. So he said, you know, "Make the cockpit look like this." And everybody was saying, "Well, we've never seen a cockpit like that." And he said, "Well, you make it like this and it will work." And it did. He made the first transparent shield for a cockpit; he made the first landing gear that went up into the plane.

KING: He survived a crash -- crashes?

HACK: He survived many crashes. He was a very good flier, but a horrible lander.

KING: Really?

HACK: This guy -- yes, he -- he was a...


KING: Knew how to fly but not how to land?

HACK: Yeah. When it came down to landing on that runway...

KING: What took this tremendously impressive looking incredible man, movie maker, political influencer...

HACK: And lover, let us not forget.

KING: Lover, hey...

HACK: I mean, the women that this...

KING: ... what a...

HACK: Yes, I mean, remember, he was living with Katharine Hepburn, I mentioned. He had -- after Katharine Hepburn he went and wooed Betty Davis, Ginger Rogers, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, Yvonne De Carlo. At the peak of their careers, the loveliest women in the world, Howard Hughes had absolutely no trouble in that league.

KING: What was his magic?

HACK: I think more than anything else, besides his money and his good looks -- he was 6'3, thin, charming -- he loved to be mothered. And these women were so used to being romanced and hit upon. Hughes would come and say, you know, "I don't even know what to say to you. You know, I'm so shy." And they would say, "Oh, Howie," you know, "come into my bed." And it worked (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: What led to the self-imposed isolation?

HACK: Well, first of all, you have to consider he crashed a lot. He was on medication a lot. He was on Codine for his pain. He had broken his jaw; he broke many bones in his body. His heart was pushed out of place. So he was in pain.

The isolation, however, came from a number of things; one of which, was that he was a loner to begin with. He grew up alone; he was an only child. His mother, you know, over-emphasized everything in his life to make him -- she took him out of schools after schools after schools. He wasn't allowed to walk, play, do anything. He was always by himself.

KING: So as you researched this, all this was coming?

HACK: You could see it, but, you know, what, he did nothing to stop it. He actually encouraged it. At a certain point, he just backed up from the world, because he realized with all his money he could do his business by phone. He didn't need to get dressed. He didn't need to cut his hair, his nails, he didn't need to brush his teeth, which he didn't for 25 years. Hello? And, I mean, imagine that breath -- Larry.

KING: Our guest is Richard Hack. I will say, I read this book, it is extraordinary.

When we come back, we will meet our panel. The book is, "Hughes: The Private Diaries, Memos and Letters." Don't go away.


NARRATOR: With a crew of four, he set another record: flying around the world in three days and 19 hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) reviews (ph) is welcomed by Mayor LaGuardia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations and welcome home.

NARRATOR: For this achievement, he was awarded the Harmon Trophy, the Collier trophy and the Congressional Medal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any one of the airline pilots of this nation, with any of the rained Army or Navy navigators and competent radio engineers, in any one of our modern passenger transports, could have done the same thing.




NARRATOR: The world's largest plane and storm (ph) center of a congressional inquiry awaits tests at its dock in Long Beach, California. Builder of the Monster (ph), Howard Hughes, stormy petrol (ph) of aviation, surveys the 320-foot wing of the colossal, whose wait is 200 tons and whose length is 200 feet.

Sections of the mammoth are as high as a five-story building. Mr. Hughes' descent gives you an idea.



KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE. Our guests are Richard Hack, the author of "Hughes: The Private Diaries, Memos and Letters;" Jane Russell, the famed actress who starred in several Hughes films, most famously, "The Outlaw;" Terry Moore, the Oscar-nominated actress who was wed to Howard Hughes aboard ship in 1949; Robert Maheu, the Former Chief of Hughes' Nevada Operations, described as Howard Hughes' alter ego and closest adviser; and in Yosemite, James Bacon, the veteran columnist and author who knew them all.

Why do you think such interest remains in a man dead all this time?

JAMES BACON, COLUMNIST AND AUTHOR: Well, Howard Hughes actually was the most fascinating man of the 20th century, I think. I always thought so. The guy was a billionaire. He inherited $600,000 from his father and built it up to $2.5 billion. And, at one time, Howard Hughes at 93 percent of all of the airplanes in this country, having been designed by him or having a part designed by him.

He -- is aircraft genius. There's no question about it. I think he contributed more to aviation than any other person in history.

KING: Now, Robert Maheu...

BACON: Except for the Wright brothers, of course.

KING: Robert Maheu was former -- you were the former chief of Hughes' -- all of Hughes' Nevada operations. You've been described as his alter ego. How long did you know him?

ROBERT MAHEU, FORMER CHIEF, HUGHES' NEVADA OPERATIONS: I knew him since 1954. Intimately, until 1970.

KING: Saw him all the time?

MAHEU: Saw him all the time. Did not see him, actually. We communicated by telephone and written memoranda.

KING: In other words, you were his top guy and never met him?

MAHEU: Exactly right.

KING: Did you meet him in '54?

MAHEU: No. KING: You never met Howard Hughes?

MAHEU: I never eyeballed Howard Hughes. And I had awesome responsibilities.

KING: He paid you?

MAHEU: He paid me very well.

KING: Signed the checks?


KING: He had other people sign the checks.

MAHEU: He had other people, right.

KING: Spoke to you on the phone?

MAHEU: Constantly.

KING: Did you ever say to him, "Why don't we meet?"

MAHEU: I tried to.

KING: And?

MAHEU: He refused to let me see him because he wanted me to remember him as I thought I might, and did not want me to see how he had neglected himself -- or he told me so.

KING: Before we get to our young ladies, what did you think of Richard's book?

MAHEU: I was very impressed with Richard's book. I worked with Richard constantly on my own book for many years. We started as complete strangers and ended up with -- as true friends. Not only was he a friend of mine, but he was also a friend of my wife's.

KING: Were you surprised at a lot of what you learned?

MAHEU: From his book?

KING: Yes.

MAHEU: Yes, absolutely.

KING: So, diaries are things you never saw before.

MAHEU: The world of Howard Hughes is an unbelievable one.

KING: Jane, how did you meet Howard?

JANE RUSSELL, ACTRESS: I saw him in a hallway, the first time, but I didn't get to meet him. He was checking Jack Butell and myself out as we walked out of Hawks' office. Howard Hawks was the director. KING: For a movie?


KING: And that was "The Outlaw?"


KING: He picked you for that movie, right?


KING: What was the -- when you first met him, what did he say? What did you talk about?

RUSSELL: We didn't. I saw him at the end of the hall, Jack poked me and he says, "I think that's him." And I said, "Who?" And he said, "Howard Hughes." And he was -- he said, "Did you see him? He was standing by the door when we came out and he's been watching us."

KING: When you finally...

RUSSELL: He just wanted to see us.

KING: When you finally did get to him -- I mean, he...

RUSSELL: Oh, it was months later.

KING: What he did with your career was unbelievable, right?


KING: I mean...


KING: ... were you embarrassed at all by the way they...

RUSSELL: Oh, yeah. I didn't like...

KING: ... played it -- "The Outlaw" -- with the breasts and the...

RUSSELL: I didn't like the publicity campaign.

KING: Didn't?


KING: But it made your career?

RUSSELL: I suppose, yeah.

KING: Was he nice to you? RUSSELL: Oh, very. He was a perfect gentleman. He was shy. He knew what he wanted, but he didn't know how to tell people. So when he was off -- when Howard Hawks left the picture, and said...

KING: He directed it, right?

RUSSELL: ... and said to him, "Howard, why don't you direct the picture?" And he got in his plane and went home.

KING: And Howard did direct, right?

RUSSELL: Yeah, but it took about three months later and we -- he called me in and said that he was going to direct.

KING: Did he ever come on with you?

RUSSELL: Oh, I think he probably tried to come on with almost any gal, you know.

KING: If it moved, he came on. OK.

RUSSELL: We were always just friends. Very, very nice.

KING: The incredible tale of Terry Moore, an Oscar-nominated actress who says she was wed to Howard Hughes in a 1949 shipboard ceremony. Just so we understand things, Richard, in your book you deny that wedding?

HACK: No, not at all.

KING: No. You affirm that wedding?

HACK: Yes, I certainly affirm that Terry went out on the boat with Howard Hughes and there was a ceremony. Absolutely.

KING: How long did you know Howard Hughes?

TERRY MOORE, ACTRESS: How long did I know Howard Hughes?

KING: Yeah, you met him. How long was the whole relationship?

MOORE: Yeah. We were -- we were together constantly for eight years.

KING: And, at that time...

MOORE: As man and wife.

KING: ... was that when he was producing and visible? He was around Hollywood making movies, flying airplanes, running companies?

MOORE: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, he was probably more active then he ever was in his whole life.

KING: And what was he like as a mate?

MOORE: I felt that Howard was the greatest lover I ever knew. And, I mean, I've loved him my whole life.

KING: Still love him?

MOORE: Yes, always will. I said in my first book I loved him then, I love him now and I will always love him. And, what Howard had, which every man should learn, is he -- he could only be happy if a woman was happy. And he had to make a woman happy first. And he knew if you were pretending. So -- so I've loved men all my life. I mean, because he was the first man I was ever with.

So I was so fortunate that so many other people have been -- have been molested and everything, where I was given the greatest pleasure on the face of the earth.

KING: Jim Bacon, from what you know of Howard Hughes, does anything Terry says surprise you?

BACON: Nothing at all. No I believe it. She married him with a captain of the ship, because Gina Lolabrigida (ph) told me she was once up in an airplane with Howard Hughes and he turned to her and he says, "Gina, I want to marry you here. I'm piloting this plane to save us a captain of a ship. I want to marry you." And Gina says, "Howard, I'm already married." And that was the end of that.

KING: All right. We'll take a break and come back, as we delve into the world of Howard Hughes with the publication of this extraordinary book. What he was like to work for, things he did and other incredible facts about an incredible man. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no, you better not get up until tomorrow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said that yesterday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you're not strong enough yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who says I'm not?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Billy, you mustn't, you'll hurt yourself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then why don't you (UNINTELLIGIBLE) with me?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My reputation (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in it. And I have said that several times, that if it's a failure, I'll probably leave this country and never come back. And I mean it.

NARRATOR: There are 100 instruments to check on this panel alone, before the test begins. A test that is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) aviation (UNINTELLIGIBLE). In the cockpit, Hughes sits at the controls. Incidentally, it takes 26,000 pounds of hydraulic pressure to operate these controls. The air and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) starts to move, driven by her eight 3,000 horse power motors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here we go. The (UNINTELLIGIBLE) indicator has moved up to 25, that's 30, that's 35, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) 65, it's 70, it's 75. And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) momentarily, he gets out, and I believe we are airborne. We are airborne, ladies and gentlemen. And I don't believe that Howard Hughes meant this to be. I don't know. We were airborne for just a moment, and we were really up in the air.


KING: We're back with our panel discussing the publication of this new book. Robert, what was he -- you didn't meet him. What was he like as an employer?

MAHEU: He met every obligation he every promised me.

KING: He never lied to you?

MAHEU: Oh, he lied.


MAHEU: Oh, he lied. Yes. He lied and exaggerated, and he was a maneuver of people. I mean, he...

KING: Did he pay well?

MAHEU: He paid extraordinarily well.

KING: He only had Mormons work around him, right? Is that true?

HACK: Well, Mr. Maheu wasn't a Mormon.

KING: But most people are Catholic. But the people who saw him were Mormons?

HACK: Yes, his aides -- for the most part, there was a Catholic working...

RUSSELL: At the end of his life.

HACK: At the end, yes.

KING: Was that because he trusted them more?

HACK: I don't think he really trusted them, no. I think what he valued about them was the fact that they didn't drink, they would work on Sundays. They would work -- you know, they kept their word and they did what they said. But, the fact was, they also were very well paid and they had to go through some extraordinarily terrible things for him, and did it all for money.

KING: There have been a lot of books about Howard Hughes. How did you come upon this concept?

HACK: Well, as I read the -- I read a lot of the books, of course, that are out there. I thought the that the one thing that was missing, to me, was why he behaved the way he did. Everybody talked about the strange things he did and the wonderful things he did and the genius of the man. But, basically, they concentrated on how weird he was, and I thought there had to be a very good reason -- he was way too smart not to have a very good reason behind his behavior.

So I tried to put myself inside this man's body.

KING: How did you get private diaries, memos and letters?

HACK: Well, you know, I lucked into it, basically, because the 15 years after his death they probated his estate absolutely to the n'th degree resident. They subpoenaed documents, they took depositions, and they finally decided how to split the estate up. And then the sealed the documents, Larry, in Texas. The state (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- the attorney general and I was able to gain access to not only to those documents, but the original depositions that were taken that were never used in court. And (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: Will you explain, briefly, that germ phobia? He wouldn't shake hands?

HACK: Well -- well, the way I understand it, and the way it was explained to me, was the fact that, first of all, he was a very private person. He liked doing business in the privacy of his room. If you are -- and he was also the first person to come up with the idea of filtering air, by the way. Nowadays, of course, we think about what we're breathing. Back then, everybody thought air was fine.

KING: He went to cell phones, in a sense. It was his idea.

HACK: Well, to get -- so that nobody had to go through a switchboard and all that. That's true. And Robert had one in his car in 1954 or '55 in his Cadillac.

KING: He was a genius.

MAHEU: He was a genius, no doubt about it.

HACK: But, the deal is this -- that if you were a man that's essentially in a bubble, if you were laying there with six aides coming in and out, that's all your contact, you are not concerned about your germs yourself. This is a man that was totally naked and peed in a bottle, mind you. He did not -- he was not concerned about what he was giving other people because he had no germs. He was concerned about the only way a germ could get there was to walk into the room in the form of someone else. So everybody who approached him had to take extraordinary efforts to wash their hands, to (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: That sounds wacko. James, why do you think Howard Hughes went from being kind of seen around to becoming a recluse? BACON: Well, Howard went underground about 1953, and he told me at the time the main reason he did that is because he owned RKL Studios, and he said, "We have five actors under contract and 150 lawyers." He hated litigation, and everybody was suing him.

KING: So he had to disappear?

BACON: Yeah. That's...


BACON: Yeah. I'll tell you how reclusive he was. I was with him once for 16 hours straight at Paul Hessey's (ph) studio and I got hungry. And I said, "Howard, what's to eat?" He said, "How do you like your steak?" And I said, "Medium rare." So we got into his 1950 Chevy, which was the cheapest model they made. It had a stick shift, no radio, linoleum on the floor instead of carpet. We drove to Chasen's (ph) and he didn't take the car to the parking attendant, he took it to the side door.

We went in, and he called Dave Chasen ahead of time and we ate in the kitchen. And Dave Chasen prepared a table for us in the kitchen, and I was out there with all the chefs and the pots and pans, and when it came time to tip the waiter, Howard didn't have a nickel on him. So he asked me to tip him, and I gave them each $10, which in 1953 was like $50 today.

KING: Yeah.

BACON: And Howard died owing me $20.

KING: Why, Richard -- or why did he leave the world? In other words, why did he -- I mean, here's a guy was a -- he was a genius, right? Airplane genius?


HACK: Well, he had a lot of good idea.

KING: He was...

HACK: He didn't know how to make them happen, other than hiring...

KING: Use tools?

HACK: the people.

KING: He hired the right people.

HACK: He sure did.

KING: Why did he go into this disappearing act?

HACK: Well, for one thing, from what I understand from reading all the research material, he was extremely sociopathic. He didn't have a lot of time for other people. Even the aides that were his only source at the end of human contact, he didn't allow them to speak to him. He talked to them, but they weren't allowed to talk back. They had to write notes to him.

KING: Why did he go weird?

HACK: Well, I think one of the reasons was that he simply didn't want to be bothered. He had a lot of ideas in his head. He wanted -- he was occupying himself with business right to the very end. And he was busy. He didn't...

KING: Were you shocked that he did that? You? Or let's ask first Jane. Were you shocked that the Howard Hughes you knew became this Howard Hughes?

RUSSELL: All I know is that all the people that really knew him and really cared about him were not allowed to see him.

KING: And what do you make of that?

RUSSELL: I think he was under control.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the Mormon mafia.


KING: The Mormon mafia, they controlled him?


KING: You think the people...

RUSSELL: Well, that's what we called them, you know. And he wasn't always with Mormons. He had Mormon drivers. And the guy that ended up on top of everything was a Mormon, you know. But he worked his way up (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and kept cutting people off on the side.

KING: Now, Robert, since you met him at the time he had started to fade away from public appearances, what do you make of this -- why he was that way?

MAHEU: I think it was a combination of things, Larry. Hughes, basically, was a perfectionist. When he played golf he'd have a camera crew follow him. They'd run the tape, he'd watch every stroke and try to perfect it. Those who worked with him in movies know -- "Hell's Angels," how long did he work on that? He was a perfectionist.

And then when his hearing became effected, I believe that that was the genesis -- I think Jane may agree with me in terms...

KING: Bad hearing?

RUSSELL: Yes. MAHEU: Bad hearing. And he has a way of effecting people. And he was becoming aware of exactly what Jane just said, that there were those around him, who in reality, wanted to steal his empire. Howard had to die so that his empire could be saved. It's an unfortunate statement, but it's true.

KING: Was he paranoid?

MAHEU: He was very paranoid.

KING: Severely paranoid.

MAHEU: He became increasingly paranoid.

KING: Was that part of his affection for Richard Nixon, do you think? Did he like Richard Nixon, who was also considered...

MAHEU: He liked anyone who could win, Larry.

KING: He supported Nixon, though, right?

MAHEU: He was supporting Humphrey at the same time.

KING: He gave money to both?

MAHEU: I had -- I had a memo -- I had two memos that were dated on the same date, where he tells me, "It is imperative that we get Hubert Humphrey elected president. It's imperative that we get Richard Nixon..."

KING: More on the incredible life, saga and times of Howard Hughes, right after this.


HOWARD HUGHES: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to be not only faster than any racing plane ever built in this country, but also faster than any (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ship or other military plane in any country whatsoever.

NARRATOR: In 1937, Howard Hughes flew the H-1 from coast to coast in seven hours and 28 minutes, a new transcontinental record.



KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE. Our guests are, Richard Hack, the author of "Hughes: The Private Diaries, Memos and Letters;" Jane Russell, the famed actress who starred in several Hughes' films, most famously "The Outlaw;" Terry Moore, the Oscar-nominated actress who was wed to Howard Hughes aboard ship in 1949; Robert Maheu, the Former Chief of Hughes' Nevada Operations, described as Howard Hughes' alter ego and closest adviser; and in Yosemite, James Bacon, the veteran columnist and author who knew them all, knew Howard Hughes and covered his activities. Jim Bacon, what do you make of our discussion in regards to Howard Hughes and being alone?

BACON: Well, Howard Hughes was a perfectionist, as Bob Maheu said. I'll give you a story. In 1928, he went up to Willy Hunter (ph), who was a pro at Riviera (ph). Howard, by the way, was a scratch handicap golfer. And he asked Willy Hunger (ph), he says, "I want to enter the national amateur this year. Do you think I can beat Bobby Jones (ph)?" Willy Hunter (ph) said, "Not a chance." Howard Hughes put his golf clubs away and never picked a stick for the rest of his life. I mean, that's how much of a perfectionist he was.


KING: He made movies with...

BACON: I think...

KING: Go ahead, I'm sorry Jim.

BACON: Yeah, Howard Hughes wanted to be alone because he was an engineering genius. And engineering geniuses don't associate with people; they associate with machines. And that's probably they main reason he became a recluse.

RUSSELL: So he tried to direct pictures, too. They're like machines.

KING: Would you call him a genius, Richard?

HACK: I think he was -- I think he was certainly very inventive. I don't think he had extraordinarily bright education mind, in the sense that he was, you know, a lot of facts in his head. But he knew how to put his finger on the person who did know, how to get something done. He conceptualized a lot of wonderful things, including the retractable landing gear on planes and the fuselage we see now -- the rivetless (ph) fuselage. Terry knows about...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He designed the Constellation (ph), Terry.

MOORE: He designed the Japanese Zero (ph), Larry. He gave it to the...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right, they stole it.

MOORE: He gave it to the American government and it was stolen -- and they turned it down and the Japanese stole it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is correct.

KING: He certainly, Robert, was an enigma.

MAHEU: No doubt about that. But I'd like to talk about the source of his being insane. Even in his latter years, I can show you an eight page memoranda where he begins with a purpose and ties it up in the last paragraph. Perfectly structured, without a -- without a...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He hadn't had his drugs yet.

MAHEU: ... without any mistaken punctuation or grammar or anything.

KING: We learned that he gave the same engagement ring to different girls, right?


KING: That he was involved with Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, simultaneously engaged to Ginger Rogers and Faith DeMurg (ph). Hughes also dated a 16-year-old, Gloria Vanderbilt, right?


KING: Yvonne De Carlo, Ava Garner, Rita Hayworth. You said she got pregnant and had a secret abortion.

HACK: She says it.

KING: And so you quote her as saying it? And dated Lana Turner. He had a way with women.

HACK: He did. He did.

KING: All right. What was the story of Bungalow 19 (ph) at the Beverly -- is it true that he would have four women at the Beverly Hills Hotel? All right, Jim would know. Would he have four women at the Beverly Hills Hotel at the same time? One in the lounge, one in the room, one in Bungalow 19 (ph), and one outside by the pool?

BACON: Yeah, I believe that, because when I knew Howard, he had about 20 actresses on the string at the same time. He had practically the whole contract list at 20th Century Fox.

KING: Now, Jane, you're nodding your head yes to that, right? I'm sorry, Jim, go ahead.

BACON: They never -- they don't call it the used tool company for nothing. Yeah, Lana Turner, you know, almost married Howard. She went so far as to have the linens and towels monogrammed H.H. And when Howard heard about this he says, "I'm not going to marry you." And she says, "What am I going to do with the towels and the linens?" Howard says, "Marry Huntington Hartford (ph)."

KING: Does that bother you, Terry, to learn that?

MOORE: Well, since he was with me 24 hours a day in Bungalow 19 (ph), and at 10,000 Sunset Boulevard -- we were at one or the other -- no, it doesn't bother me. Again, that's the gossip. You know what Cary Grant said? He came in and he sat at my house and he said, "Terry, when a lie is told enough times in Hollywood, it becomes a truth." And all the -- isn't that true? RUSSELL: Yes.

MOORE: And all these lies have become true.

KING: Do you believe that he was monogamous with Terry?

RUSSELL: I don't know. I know that was early on. And what he did after that, I have no other clue.

KING: What do you know about Bungalow 19 (ph)?

MAHEU: I know nothing about Bungalow 19 (ph). Obviously, he (ph) was too busy.

RUSSELL: I knew there were girls under contract that were, you know, kept in various houses with a couple in the house. But they -- he never saw them. They never saw him.

KING: Richard, what do you make of this?

HACK: He's a perplexing guy, isn't he? This is -- I mean, this is one of the reasons why I suppose so many people...


HACK: ... yes, so many people write books about this man. He is -- he is certainly the stuff of legend. Many of the legends are of his own making. The stories about different people in different bungalows in the Beverly Hills Hotel he told to his aides. I mean, he would -- he would get them going with these stories about...


HACK: Sure. I have this one there, and this...

KING: The gripping beginning of the book, the death of Howard Hughes -- and, by the way, terrifically written. I'm sure you agree. What a strange...

HACK: Well, it's a gripping death. I mean, how can it not be? I mean, it made me so sad writing it. I mean, it's so upsetting when you see what was going on with his -- I mean, how this man was being manipulated...

KING: How he was being treated, manipulated.

MAHEU: Larry, when you think that here's the man who founded the most important research company -- medical research company in the world, to be delivered back to the United States in the condition that he was, I think, is unconscionable.

KING: The book is "Hughes: The Private Diaries, Memos and Letters." Back with more of LARRY KING LIVE and our outstanding panel right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: We've obviously just skimmed the surface in an hour. A couple of other bases, and then what we think will be his legacy.

Richard, you write that he stored urine -- he stored his own urine.

HACK: Right.

KING: He had hypodermic needles in his arm.

HACK: When he -- when...

KING: When he was passing away.

HACK: Yes.

KING: Did he have long hair and fingernails that went down to the floor?

HACK: He had long -- yeah, well, they cut it before he was shipped out of Acapulco, according to the staff. But it was...

KING: Fingernails -- he didn't cut his fingernails?

HACK: No, but I think that's been exaggerated to the point. He just didn't care to take care of that. There was nobody seeing him; there was no reason for him to...

KING: Why would he store his own urine?

HACK: Good question. No one seems to know the answer to that, except for the fact that he decided to -- to put it in jars and put it in the closet. And they -- they actually kept it in the closet. I mean, they didn't even throw it down the drain.

KING: What's his legacy, Jane? Is he going to be -- how is he going to be remembered? Film maker, genius, recluse, nut, all of the above?

RUSSELL: Well, he wasn't a nut.

KING: He was not a nut?

RUSSELL: Not a nut. Not a nut. Not at all.

HACK: No, I don't think so either.

MAHEU: No. I agree with that, too.

RUSSELL: He had many people that loved him dearly and would have done anything they could possibly do for him. I know one of them that went down to Mexico because he was told the boss wanted to see him. And he went down to Mexico and he was put in a motel and he stayed there for three days. And each day it was -- there was an excuse. Well, the boss was busy. Well, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You couldn't see him. And they would say -- well, now, they brought a piece of paper and they wanted him to sign it. And he said, "When the man hands me the pen, I'll sign it."

Well, they asked, you know. And then they'd have to go. And he said finally he knew that he had to get out of that motel and get home or he was going to never make it. And the man was never able to...


RUSSELL: And the man was never able to get the pen -- you know, have the man hand him the pen.

KING: James, what do you think his legacy will be?

BACON: I think he'll go down in history as one of the greatest aviation geniuses of all time. And I don't think there's been enough tribute paid to him for that reason. This guy was an absolute aviation genius. He broke every flying record. And he was a great pilot and -- and as a designer, he designed the Constellation (ph), which is the best prop plane ever built.

And I flew with him. I was sitting in his Chevy out at Clover Field in Santa Monica one night -- once again, I got hungry because we were there for about five hours. I said, "Howard, I can eat a hamburger." He said, "I'll take you to a place that's got the best hamburgers in the world." He put me in his Constellation (ph) and we flew to Tucson, Arizona.


BACON: And there's a little hamburger -- there's a little hamburger stand near the airport, and he taxied right up to it. And I got to tell you, they were the greatest hamburgers that I've ever eaten. That was Howard.

KING: He was. He deserves more credit.

BACON: That was a two-hour trip in those days.

KING: He deserves -- doesn't he, Mr. Maheu? He deserves much more credit, as Richard points -- as Jim points out. He deserves much more credit.

MAHEU: Of course he does. I mean, one of the greatest accomplishments is the Early Bird (ph), which was launched in the middle 60s. A vehicle that was coordinated to the movement of earth, which enabled four-fifths of the world to have instantaneous communications. They had been denied of that all these years.


KING: That's right.


KING: So he should be more recognized, Richard, don't you think? HACK: Absolutely...

KING: For the genius part instead of the weird part.

HACK: Absolutely, and in the book, I certainly spent a great deal more time talking about his accomplishments than most of the books that I had written ever did. Which I think is something that should be remembered. He was a very, very special person to any number of us.

KING: And would you agree with that, Terry? His accomplishments are well documented in this book.

MOORE: I think he was the greatest visionary of the 20th century. And where we talk about Lindbergh, who just flew the Atlantic, Howard flew around the world. And I wanted to say one thing.

KING: We're out of time.

MOORE: OK. But I agree that he was one of the greatest men of the 20th century and one of the most courageous and the most patriotic American I ever knew.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments. Yvonne DeCarlo will join us. Richard Hack will remain. Don't go away.



FRED GWYNNE, ACTOR: I figured I (ph) would be extremely polite and extremely cold; the same as my family.

YVONNE DECARLO, ACTRESS: That's not fair, Herman. We're not being cold. We're just...

GWYNNE: You're just what?

DECARLO: We're just going through a period of adjustment.


KING: Joining us now in our remaining moments -- what a lovely lady -- Yvonne DeCarlo, the actress. You may know her from the Mrs. Munster thing in the Munster series. But, boy, once described as the most beautiful woman in the world, you can see why she was one of Howard Hughes' many lady friends. And in this terrific book by Richard Hack, we find out that you, Yvonne, had an FBI file because you were dating Hughes. What did you make of that?

DECARLO: I didn't know that. In all these years, I didn't know that. That's the first I've heard of it. I wonder why they were interested in to survey me.

KING: Why do you think? DECARLO: I don't know.

KING: What was Howard like to date?

DECARLO: I think Howard was not one of those people that was on the terrible ten list -- the communist list. So what would there be to -- maybe they were afraid I'd shoot him or something.

KING: What was he like as a boyfriend?

DECARLO: Oh, he was very charming. But when I first met him, he came to Canada to -- and I was -- I went back to a place called the Palomar (ph) Cabaret. And there was a little orchestra there, and I remember that I used to dance there and do impersonations of people like Step and Fetch It and...

KING: And did he come on with your right away?

DECARLO: And so I went back years later after I had done my movie star thing and had become discovered. And a man came over, and I think it was Donny Meyer (ph), and he said, "Mr. Hughes would like to meet you." Well, I was not too much aware of Mr. Hughes at the time -- who he was or anything.

So I said, "Oh, yes, fine." And so I looked and I thought, "Wow, this would be a terrific boyfriend for my aunt." She was with me. And that's what I really thought of him. I was thrilled...

KING: How long -- how long -- Yvonne, because we have time limitations, how long did you see or date Howard Hughes?

DECARLO: Oh, well off and on for a couple of years. But I imagine he had other people on the side.

KING: He did, did he not, Richard? He had other people?

DECARLO: Yeah, still, I didn't...

HACK: Oh, absolutely other people. You know what, though, Larry...


KING: Hold on, Yvonne.

HACK: Oh, I'm sorry. I just wanted to say that Hughes was being followed by the FBI because he was a government contractor at the time and was not supposed to be leaving the country. And flew to Canada just to meet Yvonne...

KING: See Yvonne?

HACK: ... after he saw her in the movie "Salomane."

KING: Did you see some strange signs in him, Yvonne?

DECARLO: Some what?

KING: Strange signs of him being different?

DECARLO: No. Yes, once. Once. But not extreme as later -- as happened later. He was very, very polite and very nice and he was nice to my family up in Vancouver, British Columbia. He was really love to us. And one time we stopped -- the plane landed and he never did come back to the plane. He was supposed to be gone five minutes. And so I sneaked off and I went listening to what he was doing, thinking, where is he? And he was yelling on the phone and he was saying, "You just don't give a damn. You don't give a damn." And I thought, what's that? And I ran back to the plane and sat down. And then he finally came on and said to me, "Can you be serious about me? Are you serious about me?" And I found out later that he was talking to Ava Gardner. She had given him the go bye.

KING: This had to be, Richard -- I mean, you didn't know him. You studied him, she knew him.

HACK: No. She -- that's right. I mean, I'm sorry I didn't actually know him.


KING: Would you have liked to have known him?

HACK: I certainly would have been fascinated. I think anybody would have been fascinated by this man. He was absolutely, I think, the most mysterious man that America has ever produced. Forget that he had money, forget that he had a billion dollars, forget that he was eccentric. He was such a charismatic man with this strangeness about him and this dedication.

He would pursue -- even if it was an ant across the floor, he would pursue that ant until he caught it at the end of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: Yvonne, did you like him? I know you could have loved him, but did you like him?

DECARLO: Yes, I liked him very much. I thought he was quite a gentleman and he had a sense of humor. And he was a little bit eccentric in one way, he kept me waiting in his living room at the townhouse (ph), I think it was called. I'm not sure.

KING: We're running out of time.


KING: Yvonne, it's been great seeing you. You look wonderful. Keep well.

DECARLO: I wish I was there so I could give you a big kiss.

KING: I would accept.

And Richard, I...

HACK: As would I.

KING: ... I congratulate you...

DECARLO: I'm going home now...


KING: I congratulate you on writing a terrific book.

HACK: Thank you. I appreciate it.

KING: "Publisher's Weekly" called it the biography of the year, and it deserves the praise. The book is "Hughes: The Private Diaries, Memos and Letters." And thanks to Richard Hack and all of our guests.

We leave you tonight with the incredible Melissa Etheridge. She's won two Grammys; just got nominated for another one. Here she is singing, "Heal Me." It's from her latest album "Skin."





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