Born in 1905, Howard Hughes was among the wealthiest and most powerful American men of the 20th Century, particularly noted for his interest in aviation. For all his fame, however, Hughes is today best recalled as an eccentric playboy who seemed more interested in "acquiring trophies" than in having any real emotional or physical intimacy with the numerous women he pursued. Following an early marriage to debutant Ella Rice, he arrived in Hollywood in 1924--and promptly dumped Ella to pursue a series of glamorous women. In time, Hughes' various interests--including his headline-making love life--gave way to mental illness and reclusiveness; he died in 1976. But for many years he cut a swath through Hollywood's most celebrated beauties.
1926-2000. Jean Peters parlayed her 1946 win as Miss Ohio State into a minor film career as a pretty screen ingenue. Perhaps her best-remembered film is the 1954 'Three Coins In the Fountain'. She married Hughes in 1957 and retired from the screen. They generally led separate lives, and Peters reported that she had not seen for several years at the time of their 1971 divorce, at which time she resumed her career.
b. 1929. Like Jean Peters, Terri Moore was a minor screen ingenue who is today best recalled for 1952's 'Come Back, Little Sheba'. Moore claimed to have married Hughes at sea, and after a court battle was eventually recognized by the Hughes estate as Howard Hughes widow. Unlike Peters, however, Moore has had a lot to say about Hughes since his death. Still living, Moore works in fashion merchandise marketing and refers to herself as "Mrs. Howard Hughes."
Bette Davis, 1908-1989. Oscar winner celebrated for her powerful performances in such films as 'All About Eve (Special Edition)', Davis is said to have dumped Hughes when she--like all the others--realized he had no intention of being faithful.
Olivia De Havilland, b. 1916. Oscar winner best recalled for her role as Melanie in the legendary 'Gone with the Wind', De Havilland considered Hughes little more than an escort--but she liked the publicity it caused.
Marlene Dietrich, 1901-1992. One of the screen's most glamorous stars in 'Destry Rides Again', Dietrich was infamous for her affairs and no more serious about Hughes than he was about her.
Billie Dove, 1903-1997. Dove was one of the silent screen's most celebrated beauties in such films as 'The Black Pirate', and Hughes dumped his first wife for her; three years later Dove dumped Hughes when she caught him stepping out.
Joan Fontaine b. 1917. Academy Award winning star best recalled for such films as 'Rebecca - Criterion Collection', Fontaine was more than happy to have Hughes as an occasional escort--particularly since it annoyed sister Olivia de Havilland.
Ava Gardner, 1922-1990. Legendary screen beauty and star of such films as 'Show Boat', Gardner was a firey woman who was said to have actually dominated Hughes!
Linda Darnell proved early on that she was a natural for films. Discovered for films in her native Dallas, Texas, at the age of 16 she signed with 20th Century Fox. Just one year later, Fox gave Darnell a starring role in Stardust (1940; with John Payne). Often cast in film noir and westerns, her years at Fox were her best, with films such as Blood and Sand (1941; with Tyrone Power) and Forever Amber
Paulette Goddard, 1910-1990. Noted actress in classics like 'The Women', Goddard was amused by Hughes between husbands Charlie Chaplin and Erich Maria Remarque.
Jean Harlow, 1911-1937. The legendary Harlow got her big break when Hughes cast her as the lead in his 1930 film 'Howard Hughes' Hell's Angels'--but how far their relationship went is anybody's guess.
Rita Hayworth, 1918-1987. World War II's favorite pin-up and star of 'Gilda', Rita Hayworth was among Hughes' rumored conquests.
Katharine Hepburn, 1907-2003. Perhaps the 20th Century's most celebrated screen actress in films like 'The Philadelphia Story', Hughes and Hepburn were a very serious item in the 1930s--but broke it off when neither felt able to tolerate the other's sense of independence.
Hedy Lamarr, 1913-2000. The ultra-beautiful star of such films as 'Samson & Delilah (1950)', the sultry-yet-brainy Lamarr was among Hughes various interests of the 1940s.
Carole Lombard, 1908-1942. The beautiful, high-spirited star of such classics as 'To Be or Not to Be' lost all interest in Hughes when she fell in love with Clark Gable.
Ida Lupino, 1914-1995. Film Noir queen Lupino, 1914-1995, best known for 'High Sierra', was an occasional trophy date for the infamous Mr. Hughes. So was the legendary Marilyn Monroe, 1926-1962, star of many famous film including 'Some Like It Hot'.
Dancer Ginger Rogers, 1911-1995, best recalled as Fred Astaire's dancing partner in such films as 'Swing Time', was among Hughes' dates in the 1930s. So was "Queen of MGM" Norma Shearer, 1902-1983, famous for such films as 'Private Lives'.
Gene Tierney, 1920-1991, star of such films as 'Laura', was a Hughes date in the 1940s--as was Lana Turner, 1921-1995, star of 'The Postman Always Rings Twice'. Perhaps the last star with Hughes was publically associated was Shelley Winters, b. 1920, famous for such films as 'A Place in the Sun'.
From time to time rumors surface that Hughes' friendships with a few male stars were a bit more physical than most people think. Although there is little factual evidence, he has been occasionally linked to Errol Flynn, 1909-1959, star of 'The Adventures of Robin Hood (Two-Disc Special Edition)'; Cary Grant, 1904-1986, star of 'Gunga Din'; and the notoriously bisexual Tyrone Power, 1913-1958, star of 'The Mark of Zorro'.