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Howard Hughes


“There was a certain genuineness which no cleverness could have produced.

Only a truly sweet and sincere person could have written such a letter."

Howard Robard Hughes, Jr., 1905-1976.  Billionaire American aviator, engineer, industrialist, and film producer.  Typed Letter Signed, Howard Hughes, one page, 7¼" x 10½", on engraved stationery of 7000 Romaine Street, Hollywood, California, May 31, 1944.

Hughes writes a cordial letter of acknowledgement to the widow of one of his former employees. In full:  “This note may seem an unnecessary formality.  However, after reading your letter I did not want to put it aside without letting you know how very much it impressed me.  /  There was a certain genuineness which no cleverness could have produced.  Only a truly sweet and sincere person could have written such a letter.  /  Please believe that, far from feeling you were tardy in writing, I consider you were exceedingly thoughtful to do so at all.  /  My most cordial regards . . . ." 

Hughes likely wrote to acknowledge congratulations on one of his several record-setting flights.  On April 17, 1944, Hughes and Trans World Airlines President Jack Frye, flying a Lockheed Constellation, set a new American transcontinental nonstop speed record, averaging 330.9 miles per hour while flying from Burbank, California, to Washington, D.C., in 6 hours, 57 minutes.  They stopped at Wright Field in Ohio on the return trip and took Orville Wright his last flight, more than 40 years after his historic first flight.  Wright noted that the Constellations wing span was longer than the distance of his first flight.

A Texas native who inherited his parents' fortune, Hughes first gained prominence as a film producer in the 1920s.  One of his films won an Academy Award, and two others received Academy Award nominations.  Three monumental filmsthe World War I aviation film Hells Angels (1930), The Front Page (1931), and Scarface (1932)—secured Hughes' reputation as an innovator willing to use his wealth and disregard industry convention.  In 1932, at age 26, he retired from the movie business to devote his time to aviation.

He subsequently created Hughes Aircraft in 1932 and designed and built several aircraft himself, including the Hughes H-1 Racer and the largest flying boat ever built, the wooden Hughes H-4 Hercules, known as the “Spruce Goose."  As a pilot, Hughes set speed records for transcontinental and around-the-world flights.  He bought control of TWA in 1939 and retained it until 1966. 

Hughes was one of the world's wealthiest people of his time and became one of the most reclusive.  During the last ten years of his life, served by an entourage of personal aides, he lived in penthouse hotel suites in the United States, Europe, Central America, and the Caribbean and communicated largely by yellow legal pad notes passed underneath the door.  At his death in 1976, he left an estate valued at $2.5 billion.

Hughes wrote this letter from his headquarters at 7000 Romaine Street in Hollywood, an art deco building in which Hell's Angels was edited.  He has signed this letter in black fountain pen.  The letter has normal mailing folds and is in very fine condition.




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