Howard Hughes’ sexcapade horrors: Svengali bad-boy of Hollywood (playboy community)


EXCERPT: Before there was #MeToo and Harvey Weinstein, there was Howard Hughes [...] a legendary playboy — and an often emotionally and physically abusive man who seduced, harassed and cajoled scores of famous actresses [...] as Karina Longworth reveals in her new book, “Seduction: Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes’s Hollywood” (Custom House), out now.

Ava Gardner recalled Howard Hughes as a great lover ... But his anger often eclipsed his passion, as Gardner ... learned the hard way after ... Hughes lost control. “He swung at her, and the next thing she knew, she had fallen back into a chair. Then, she recalled, Hughes ‘jumped at me and started to pound on my face until it was a mess,’ ” Longworth writes.

Gardner, however, fought back. She found an “ornamental bronze bell” ... picked it up and struck him on his face, splitting his forehead open and knocking loose two teeth. Livid at what he’d done to her, Ava continued the beating while Howard was down, grabbing a chair and hitting him some more. Finally, her maid walked in and put a stop to it.

Hughes and actress Katharine Hepburn, Longworth writes, were “kindred spirits” who would “skinny-dip ... They also shared a robust sex life, with Hepburn calling him “the best lover I ever had.”

Bette Davis was equally enamored, if not entirely impressed, with Hughes’ seductions. “I was the only one who ever brought Howard Hughes to a sexual climax, or so he said at that time,” she once claimed. “I believed it when he told me that. I was wildly naive at the time. It may have been his regular seduction gambit. Anyway, it worked with me, and it was cheaper than buying gifts. But Howard Huge, he was not.”

Hughes and Ginger Rogers’ on-again/off-again love affair lasted years ... “Howard wanted to get himself a wife, build her a house and make her a prisoner in her own home while he did what he pleased,” Rogers later wrote. “Thank heavens I escaped that.”

As Hughes got older, his targets became younger ... Hughes was 35 when he met Faith Domergue, then 16 and an actress under contract with Warner Bros. ... Hughes pursued her relentlessly. While she initially had no interest, he wore her down and proposed marriage ... telling her, “You are the child I should have had.” ... The pair never married — proposals, it turned out, were a primary tool in Hughes’ seduction arsenal ... he purchased her contract from Warner Bros.

... Soon, she no longer had friends, wasn’t allowed to drive herself anywhere, was trapped alone — Hughes rarely returned home — in a 30-room mansion she found haunted and creepy, and had her family completely in Hughes’ debt. Hughes, who carried on with Gardner, Turner and a then-teenage Gloria Vanderbilt while still with Domergue, would never marry her or make her a star. He didn’t cast her in a movie for years and since he owned her contract, she couldn’t act for anyone else. Whenever she tried to leave him, Hughes would appeal to her mother, who would pressure her into staying. Years later, Domergue wrote an autobiography that was never published. Longworth suggests that the evidence points to the book having been killed by people connected to Hughes.

... his relationship with Domergue ... was a template. Whenever he saw a picture of a pretty teenage actress, he sought to get her under contract — and under his full control — right away, installing them in his apartments, scheduling every moment of their lives and hiring each a personal driver who was also his spy. He would then leave very specific demands for how these women were to be handled, some of which revealed odd sexual proclivities.

“If we saw a bump in the road, we were supposed to slow down to a maximum speed of 2 miles an hour and crawl over the obstruction so as not to jiggle the starlet’s breasts,” a Hughes driver named Ron Kistler later revealed. “Hughes was one of the world’s consummate t-t men, and he was convinced that women’s breasts would sag dangerously unless treated gently and supported at all times.”

Stories of Hughes’ pursuits are a litany of creep, including that of actress Terry Moore when he was 43 and she was 19....


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