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Did Howard Hughes Fake His Own Death?

By Chris Capps    12/14/10

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Spruce_Goose_1.jpg
Howard Hughes, the famous pilot, industrialist, and billionaire who once broke aviation speed records with planes like his now famous "Spruce Goose," reportedly didn't die as he claimed he had in 1976.  The billionaire aircraft Tycoon is certainly no stranger to controversy, but the latest claim by Mark Musick in his latest book no doubt will raise many questions as he says the late billionaire who died in 2009 at the age of 93 years old, or if he had been born when Howard Hughes had been, 104 years of age.

Nik McLelland, who died in 2009 is the subject of Musick's latest book, "Boxes: The Secret Life of Howard Hughes" wherein he uses evidence he has gathered over the course of the past few years to determine once and for all that Hughes faked his own death in 1976 using instead a body double who became the reclusive long haired Hughes we all know from his later life.  Musick is hosting a presentation later today to present to skeptics and believers his discovery and convince them that the real Howard Hughes lived long after his reported death and even married while under a surname.

Those familiar with Howard Hughes will certainly be no stranger to the controversy surrounding his death and his subsequent estate.  In 1976 a gas station attendant named Melvin Dummar achieved national notoriety when he came forward with a hand written will he claimed to belong to Hughes.  Dummar claimed to have seen the old man on the side of the road and decided to come forward and even take him to a hotel in Las Vegas.  The man explained after he reached the hotel that he was indeed the reclusive billionaire and wrote him a will in which he left $156 million to the gas station attendant who had helped him one lonely night.  Of course this story was highly controversial and eventually ended in Dummar being labeled an opportunist and a swindler looking to cash in on the death of a billionaire whom he had never met.

Later another woman, Terry Moore, came forward claiming to have been married to Hughes in 1984 while the two were on a yacht in 1949.  The two had never divorced, and Moore's bestselling novel "Beauty and the Billionaire received national attention for several years afterward.  The woman eventually received an unknown amount from Howard Hughes' estate.

The long list of litigations that followed Mr. Hughes' death are no doubt motivation according to Musick's narrative for why Mr. Hughes would have wanted to get away from his life filled with airplanes, hotels, and dollar signs.  Of course it's understandable why Mr. Hughes would have wanted to desire a simple life at times.  But was he actually motivated enough to outlive his own legacy in isolation?  And furthermore, could even a man of Howard Hughes' stature have somehow found a way to live to be 104 years old?  It's certainly not a world record, but it would be incredibly rare.

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