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THE WOMEN IN HUGHES'S LIFE
(A PARTIAL LIST OF FRIENDS/LOVERS/DISCOVERIES)
- PHYLLIS APPLEGATE Singer, dancer, Hughes starlet—and Hughes lover
When he at last married, she told him, "Be happy." A resident of Los
Angeles for many years, she worked for an ophthalmologist.
- CARLA BALENDA
(b.1925) Real name Sally Bliss, she was a Hughes
virtually grew up under his thumb, starring in films for RKO and later
appearing on TV
- PHYLLIS BROOKS
Lovely brunette actress of the thirties who dated Howard
but preferred his friend Cary Grant, to whom she became engaged.
- NANCY CARROLL
Scarlet-haired star of early talkies, she was left waiting in
- CYD CHARISSE
Premier dancer of MGM musicals who was courted avidly
by Hughes but eventually chose singer Tony Martin over the
- SALLILEE CONLON Virginal Indiana co-ed who chanced to be on the cover
of Life magazine; a week later, she was in Las Vegas with Hughes. Went
to work behind the scenes in TV news.
- JOAN CRAWFORD
Though she was married, Hughes still pursued her.
promising her a "big" gift in return for a date. The former flapper (who
came to Hollywood after winning a Charleston contest) was famed for portraying strong, aggressive roles (like her Oscar-winning Mildred
1945) and for her parenting skills, or lack thereof, according to her author-daughter Christina
in the biographical Mommie Dearest (1978)...Joan Crawford Biog./Gallery
- LINDA DARNELL
Naive, darkly sensual star of Forever Amber and
of Zorro. She left her cameraman husband Peverell J. Marley and was
to drop her career to order to marry Hughes. Then, he unceremoniously
- BETTE DAVIS
Fiery Warner Brothers actress and two-time Oscar winner,
she shared a summer of Malibu idylls with Hughes — until her husband, and
a private eye, caught them together. It was not until her latter years that she
admitted the depth other affair with Hughes...Bette Davis Biog.
- YVONNE DE CARLO
Perpetually cast as a saloon girl, the former dancer —
who shimmied to fame in Salome, Where She Danced — trysted with Howard
for two years in the mid-forties. Known to TV viewers for her role as Lily
Munster in The Munsters.
- OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND
Warner Brothers actress who dated Hughes — until
she learned he had no plans for marriage. She matured into a two-time
Oscar-winning dramatic star (1946's To Each His Own and 1949's The
Heiress) but will be forever known as Melanie in Gone With the Wind
(1939). Counted herself lucky to have spurned Hughes's attention...Olivia De Havilland Biog./Gallery
- FAITH DOMERGUE
Raven-haired, with haunting eyes, she was just a
teenager when she caught Hughes's eye. He romanced her until she was
twenty. Under Hughes she starred in the overwrought Vendetta (1950).
After Hughes she starred in low-budget titles, including the science-fiction
favorite This Island Earth (1955).
- BILLIE DOVE
"The most beautiful girl" in the history of the Ziegfeld
Follies. Engaged to Hughes, with whom she had a lengthy relationship, she
later married rancher-developer Robert Keniston and became a philanthropist and artist.
- JOAN FONTAINE
Olivia's younger sister, she was pursued by Hughes while
he courted de Havilland. An Oscar winner for Suspicion (1941)...Joan Fontaine Biog./Gallery
- BRENDA FRAZIER
The "Debutante of the Century," she was romanced by
Hughes in Palm Beach and Manhattan.
- GAIL GANLEY
The last starlet under contract to Hughes, who allowed her
promising career to languish. Her ensuing lawsuit blew the lid off Hughes's
bizarre lifestyle. After appearing in small roles in a spate of films she became
an in-demand sound-effects artist.
- AVA GARDNER
Smoky-voiced and blatantly sexy on screen and off, she was
lured into a lusty relationship with Hughes when she was on the rebound
from husband Mickey Rooney. (She was also married to band leader Artie
Shaw and Frank Sinatra.) Her friend-lover union with Howard lasted
twenty years. In her 1954 film The Barefoot Contessa, Humphrey Bogart
played a Hughes-inspired character...Ava Gardner Biog./Gallery
- KATHRYN GRAYSON
MGM's reigning soprano and one of the studio's
beautiful, buxom stars (in titles including 1951's Show Boat and 1953's Kiss
Me Kate), she was allied with Howard for eight years; she almost married
him three times. Still active onstage in the 1990s, she remembers Hughes fondly
continues to live in the Tudor-style mansion Howard loved.
- JANE GREER
The sloe-eyed forties film noir femme fatale who was brought
to Hughes for star-making. She married crooner Rudy Vallee instead,
enraging the jealous Hughes. She occasionally appearED on television up until the 1990s.
- JEAN HARLOW
The original blonde bombshell and a brief Hughes fling,
she soared to fame as the star of his Hell's Angels. But Hughes unwisely sold
her contract to MGM, which made her one of the immortals. Foilou
her untimely death at age twenty-six, Hughes remained close to Harlow's
mother...Jean Harlow Biog./Gallery
- SUSAN HAYWARD
Oscar winner (1958's I Want to Live) and indestructable
redhead who thought she might be the next Mrs. Hughes. He pursued her
for seven years; she dropped him after his New Year's Eve caper in which he tried to wine and dine three different women at the same time.
- RITA HAYWORTH
She was still married to filmmaker Orson Welles
she pursued a blazing affair with Hughes at Marion Davies's Santa Monica
beach house. One of the great beauties of the 1940s — a Hayworth
was attached to the A-bomb dropped on Bikini Island — she displayed
sultry sexuality in such films as Gilda (1946). Her husbands included jet-setter
Prince Aly Khan...Rita Hayworth Biog./Gallery
- KATHARINE HEPBURN
The quintessential patrician actress; fiercely
pendent and one of the most talented Hollywood has ever produced - a
four-time Oscar winner. Hughes and Spencer Tracy were the great passions
in her life. (Hughes kept her love letters in a safe deposit box, where they
were found after his death.)...Katharine Hepburn Biog./Gallery
- BARBARA HUTTON
The "Poor Little Rich Girl" who tumbled into bed with
Hughes when he was engaged to Hepburn; their affair lasted just ten days.
Hutton died like Hughes — wasting away and neglected in a hotel suite.
- ZIZI JEANMAIRE
The willowy star of the Roland Petit ballet
attracted Hughes's attention during a Hollywood Bowl revue. He paid the bills
for the entire company to remain in Los Angeles while he sought her favours.
- DOROTHY JORDAN
Briefly engaged to Hughes, the MGM star .of the thirties later married filmmaker Merian C. Cooper
- TIMMIE LANSING New York debutante who was wooed and virtually held
prisoner by Hughes. She later married famed cartoonist Peter
- JANET LEIGH
Fresh-faced MGM musical comedy star who spurned
Howard's advances but ended up working for him at RKO.
Alfred Hitchcock's leading lady in Psycho (1960)—and as the mother of
actress Jamie Lee Curtis, she recounted her adventures with Hughes with
great humor...Janet Leigh Biog./Gallery
- GINA LOLLOBRIGIDA
She was on her way to becoming an Italian sex symbol when Hughes imported her from her homeland. When she refused to
become a conquest, he kept her from making American films for seven
years, using an obscure provision in her contract...Gina Lollobrigida Biog./Gallery
- IDA LUPINO
Known for playing tough, no-nonsense "broads," she was just
sixteen when she dated Hughes. "My mum went along," she claimed. He
was later instrumental in her move to directing...Ida Lupino Biog./Gallery
- MARIAN MARSH
Delicate leading lady of Hollywood melodramas, she
saw Howard change as a result of the company he kept in the 1930s.
Active in later life as a community leader in Palm Desert, the California city she
and her late husband (aviation pioneer Cliff Henderson)
- VIRGINIA MAYO
Blonde bombshell (she was Dana Andrews's philandering
wife in 1946's The Best Years of Our Lives) who resisted a wild fling with
Hughes in New York—because she got airsick.
- MARILYN MONROE
Hughes was enthralled with her when he saw one of
her earliest films, Don't Bother to Knock...Marilyn Monroe Biog./Gallery
- TERRY MOORE
Pert perpetual starlet, she co-starred with a gorilla in
Mighty Joe Young (1949) before going on to solid dramas such as Come Back
Little Sheba (1952) and Peyton Place (1957). During the battle for the
Hughes estate she claimed to have married Howard at sea. She received a
settlement. Detailed her alleged Hughes exploits in the 1984 memoir The
Beauty and the Billionaire; then work on Hughes's "autobiography.
- JEAN PETERS
Homespun but gorgeous 20th Century-Fox star who lived
with Hughes off and on for a decade before he finally married her in 1957.
Among her best-known films are Captain from Castile (1947) with Tyrone
Power, Viva Zapata! (1952) opposite Marlon Brando, and Niagara (1953),
which starred Marilyn Monroe. After divorcing Hughes
in 1971 she married film executive Stanley Hough; their marriage lasted until his death in
1992. Active in later life in charity work, Peters declined to give interviews about her
years with Hughes.
- GINGER ROGERS
Graceful leading lady of the thirties and forties; partnered
with Fred Astaire onscreen; with Hughes, off. When she left Howard he
- JANE RUSSELL
Though he never succeeded in getting her into bed, Hughes
loved her for her down-to-earth demeanor, her independence, and her fabulous figure, especially the breasts he enshrined in The Outlaw. Star of
numerous fifties films, she credits Hughes with her stardom, which endures
- YVONNE SHUBERT Just fifteen and an aspiring singer when she caught the
eye of the fifty-year-old Hughes, she was his last hurrah and, she says, the
only one of the many "Hughes girls" who truly loved him. She gave Jean
Peters her toughest competition. Pursued an intermittent singing career
that continues today.
- JEAN SIMMONS
Genteel leading lady of films including Guys and Dolls
(1955) and Spartacus (1960), she saw her early career stall when Hughes
bought her contract, "and put me in the toilet." She retaliated with a law-suit. She now considers her Hughes
histrionics as "part of a silly period."...Jean Simmons Biog./Gallery
- ELIZABETH TAYLOR
Just a teenager when she caught Hughes's eye as
strode through the Beverly Hills Hotel, she and her parents were quickly
whisked off to Las Vegas for a weekend with the millionaire...Elizabeth Taylor Biog./Gallery
- JOYCE TAYLOR (b.1932) Teenage songstress who looked and acted older than she
was. Hughes put her under contract in the fifties, then put her contract on
hold. She resurfaced, starring in science fiction and horror titles such as
Atlantis, the Lost Continent (1961) and Beauty and the Beast (1963). Now
makes her home in Colorado where she writes poetry. "I used to hate
Howard. In retrospect, I feel sorry for him."
- GENE TIERNEY
One of the screens most spectacular beauties and star of the
classics Laura (1944) and Leave Her to Heaven (1945), she dated Hughes
before and during her marriage to fashion designer Oleg Cassini. Though
Hughes clearly had an agenda during his pursuit of her, Tierney remained
ever grateful to him because of the medical attention he provided for her
mentally retarded daughter...Gene Tierney Biog./Gallery
- LANA TURNER
The "Sweater Girl" who became Howard's fiancee until he
stood her up at the altar. Her icy blonde beauty and smoldering sexuality
were especially effective when she teamed with John Garfield to
her spouse in The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946). In her 1988 autobiography she
tried to minimize her liaison with Hughes. (Turner's many
ex-husbands include band leader Artie Shaw, whose many wives also
included Hughes's paramour Ava Gardner.)
- GLORIA VANDERBILT
Delicate, wistful debutante from one of America's
most famous families. Briefly engaged to Hughes, who dropped her when
she began dating his friend Pat De Cicco. After she became a queen of the
fashion industry she wrote about Hughes in her memoirs.
- Source: the best book on Hughes, Howard Hughes - The Untold Story (The life that inspired Martin Scorsese's The Aviator)
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