Howard Hughes: Facts And Stories You Didn't Know (All The Weird Stuff)

By | March 31, 2020

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Howard Hughes in the cockpit of an airplane in a leather flight helmet and goggles. (Getty Images)

Long before the term "social distancing" entered our everyday vocabulary, there have been people who chose to self-isolate. We called them recluses or—if they're very rich—eccentrics. Marlene Dietrich, J.D. Salinger, and Harper Lee are just a few of the celebrities who eventually told the world they were done with varying degrees of civility. Perhaps the most famous self-isolator was billionaire businessman and aviator Howard Hughes, as famous for his unusual lifestyle as his brilliant inventions. Here are some of the facts you didn't know about Howard Hughes, mostly because no one was around to know them.

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Howard Hughes was a recluse. (History Channel)

Hughes Spent Four Months In Almost Total Isolation

In 1948, Hughes simply went into the screening room he'd built to watch movies in his home and didn't come out for four months. Alone and in the dark, Hughes ignored the pleas of others to end his self-isolation. Instead, he passed the time drinking milk and eating chocolate bars. He had no need for a bathroom, choosing to relieve himself in empty bottles, which he then lined up in precise rows on the floor. When he wasn't watching movies, he spent his time stacking and unstacking dozens of tissue boxes. He emerged from his self-imposed isolation in terrible physical condition: He hadn’t bathed in four months, nor had he cut his hair or fingernails.