YMRT #7: The Many Loves of Howard Hughes, Chapter 1 / by Karina Longworth


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The first episode of a multi-part series on the Hollywood romances of Howard Hughes traces Hughes’ arranged marriage at age 18 to Southern society belle Ella Rice; his affairs with silent star Billie Dove and Jean Harlow, who Hughes helped to establish as a sex symbol whose body was used to evoke both money and military might; and his attempt to invent himself as the most powerful independent producer in town, with his directorial debut, Hell’s Angels

Show Notes!

Key research texts this week included Howard Hughes: The Untold Story by Peter Harry Brown and Pat H. Broeske; and Hughes: The Private Diaries, Memos and Letters, by Richard Hack. There were few discrepancies in terms of the way these two books depicted this time period in Hughes’ life, and I take them somewhat more seriously than another book which I mention in the episode, Darwin Porter’s Hell’s Angel: America’s Notorious Bisexual Billionaire (typing this, I’m realizing I got the subtitle slightly wrong in the podcast; sorry!) 

This week, I watched Hell’s Angels for the first time, and was really pleasantly surprised by it. The UCLA restoration currently available on DVD is *gorgeous,” and the dialogue scenes, directed by James Whale, have a kind of vulgar, inelegant honesty to them. 

I wouldn’t consider them direct research materials, but more than nonfiction sources, I picked up the feeling of 1920s Hollywood from a number of novels, including (of course) The Day of the Locust, but also a few lesser-discussed books I’ve read over the past year: The Big Money by John Dos Passos, Hollywood by Gore Vidal, and The Western Coast by Paula Fox. I highly recommend them all. 

As previously noted, this is intended to be the first episode in a multi-part series about Hughes’ Hollywood relationships. Right now the plan is to alternate episodes on Hughes with installments of another series, which I plan to launch next week (however, I’m traveling tomorrow-Monday, so it’s possible my production schedule will get messed up.)

As always, if you like it, put a ring on it by subscribing to and/or rating and reviewing the podcast at iTunes, and tell your friends to follow us on Twitter @rememberthispod

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