I'm nearly halfway through Howard Hughes: His Life and Madness, supposedly the most thorough and accurate biography of Hughes. The film The Aviator was based upon it. So far, it's a fascinating read. The place I'm at is around 1953-54 when Hughes was beginning to spend more and more time in Las Vegas. I've never understood how someone like Hughes could enjoy being in a place like Vegas. According to authors Donald Barlett and James Steele:
Las Vegas held other charms for Hughes aside from a favorable tax structure. He liked the glamor and gaudiness of the town; he enjoyed prowling the city at night, cruising the casinos and hotels in search of attractive young women available for an evening's dalliance. (p. 189)
Okay, now I understand it. He wasn't completely crazy. Additionally, Hughes rented a five-room bungalow adjacent to the Desert Inn called the Green House:
The Green House was Hughe's main residence for about a year in 1953-54, but eventually...he abandoned plans to make Las Vegas the capital of his empire. Even so, he wanted the Green House in a state of readiness, and he gave detailed instructions for "sealing" it against the day of his return. "He wanted everything there beautifully preserved just the way it was,when he came back," recalled Nadine Henley. A Hughes employee secured the doors and windows with tape, then painted over the tape with a sealer. (p. 189)
Hughes never returned to the Green House, alothough he did continue to lease and later own it until his death. Two weeks after he died, officials of the Hughes organization opened the house and found a twenty-two-year-old time capsule. In addition to chairs, tables, divans, linen, half-used bars of soap, and other standard household furnishings, the Green House contained an electric Westinghouse refrigerator--still running--two newspapers dated October 13, 1953, and April 4, 1954, keys to Room 186 at the Flamingo Hotel and Room 401 at the Hotel Miramar, twin beds with soiled sheets, some Sahara casino gambling chips, eight telephones in five rooms, a letter from "Jane to Howard" dated December 5, 1952, a script titled "Son of Sinbad," two yachting caps, a 1953 appointment dairy believed to belong to Jean Peters, a box of Christmas decorations, and a fruit cake. (pp. 189, 190)
And I'm sure the fruit cake was still edible.
The pictures are from Welcome Home Howard, part of the University of Nevada's Special Digital Collections library. Check it out for a lot of great pictures, some rare, of Howard Hughes in his prime.