Q&A from beyond the grave: Howard Hughes

Smarta: You've been dead 34 years. How are you finding the afterlife?

Howard Hughes: Considering my three passions in life were women, aviation and business, the afterlife is pretty damn boring. And I could murder a good cigar.

S: In life, you were a serial inventor and entrepreneur. Where did you find your inspiration?

HH: Well, my father was an inventor, see. He loved tinkering with machines. He designed a new drill bit for digging through rock - that was how he came to start the family business. I guess you could say inventing was in my blood

S: What was your favourite invention?

HH: I once designed a push-up bra for Jane Russell. She was the leading lady on my film The Outlaw. That was one invention I enjoyed seeing in action. Although she refused to wear it on set. Apparently it pinched.

S: Did you enjoy being a rich man?

HH: At the time I died, I was worth around $2.5bn. Did it make me happy? Not in the end. I was a changed man. All I cared about were my painkillers and my memories. At least I passed away while flying - I died on a flight from Mexico to Texas. It wasn't far to heaven.

S: Any regrets?

HH: I wish I'd never stored all those jars of my own urine. That was a low point. I loved the Kleenex box shoes I made though. I miss those shoes.

S: You are known for your philanthropic endeavours. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute is still flourishing today. Why the altruism?

HH: I wanted to help my fellow man, of course. Although there were a few tax benefits. When I donated all the stock from Hughes Aircraft to the Institute, I turned the military contractor into a tax-exempt charity. It also meant that the directors had to get off my back over stock options. They all belonged to the charity - and who would deprive a charity of its valuable assets?

S: If you were alive today, what would you do?

HH: I'd get myself a nice little television show, like that Alan Sugar character. And I'd shake that Leonardo DiCaprio fellow by the hand. He did a good job of playing me in that motion picture. Even if he is a little short.


And with that, the spirit of Hughes returned to the ether. Missed our interview with Henry Ford on Monday? Click here. And check back tomorrow for our next journey to the land of the dead.


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