Park Engineering

 John Park, 32 the Loaning, Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, Strathclyde, Scotland, U.K. ML1 3HE

       mobile 0781 8618547

 "e" mail jpark8@btinternet.com (click on this to send me an "e" mail)
 
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Sad end to life of eccentric recluse

 

Twelve --  that's how "quirky" billionaire Howard Hughes was, on a scale of 1 to 10. Hughes who died on April 5, 1976 aged 70, straddled that fine line between genius and madman, but swerved full-pelt into the latter during the last few decades of his life.   To be fair, he was brilliant as a businessman and film-maker and was one of America's leading aviation pioneers. You don't build up a $2.5 billion fortune if you're completely crackers.   Nor do you date a string of beautiful women, including Bette Davies, Ava Gardner, Olivia de Havilland, and Katharine Hepburn, if your personal hygiene is as questionable as his became.   But even in his early days, there lurked the hints of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that would later dominate his life and turn him from flamboyant playboy to eccentric recluse. He would only drink orange juice that had been squeezed in front of him, while he'd sort peas by size using a special fork.   In later years, he became obsessed by the film Ice Station Zebra and had it running on a continuous loop in his home, watching it 150 times.    It's now thought Hughes career as an incredible aviator -- he helped multiple world air speed records and designed state-of-the-art aircraft -- contributing to his mental collapse.   He survived several serious crashes that left him in constant pain, including one near fatal one in 1946 when the prototype he was piloting on it's maiden flight plummeted  into Beverly Hills.   When he was finally released from hospital, he told his aides he wanted to screen some movies in a film studio near his home -- and didn't leave for four months.  In that time, Hughes survived on chocolate bars, chicken and milk, relieving himself in the empty bottles and containers. He was surrounded by dozens of Kleenex boxes which he'd continuously rearrange and sat fixed in his chair usually naked.  When he emerged, he'd not bathed or cut his hair or nails for weeks. This was very possibly do to his allodynia -- extreme painon being touched.  Later he'd only have his hair and nails cut once a year, while he even avoided brushing his teeth because it was so painful.  Hughes became physically dependant on codeine which he injected into his muscles. He'd also insist in using tissues to pick up objects and for the last ten years of his life, shut himself away in various hotels.   Fittingly Hughes died in the air on a private flight. His long unkempt hair and nails plus the fact his 6ft 1in now weighed barely 90lb, meant the FBI had to use fingerprints in order to identify the corpse.       The autopsy found he was malnourished and had died of kidney failure, probably due to his heavy codeine use, and five broken-off hypodermic needles were found in the flesh of his arms.   It was a sad, undignified end to one of the most fascinating lives in history.     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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