The secret life of Howard Hughes

Cover of "Boxes: The Secret Life of Howard Hughes"


BILL RADKE: A lot of people will tell you money doesn't buy happiness, and they can point to a lot of wealthy, unhappy people. One of the most famous being the late billionaire Howard Hughes. But a new book makes the improbable claim that Hughes lost his money and still lived happily for a lot longer than you thought. Author Douglas Wellman, welcome to Marketplace.

WELLMAN: Thank you very much, Bill. I'm happy to be here.

RADKE: The official story is Howard Hughes died in 1976 drugged up, maybe mentally ill, emaciated. You tell a very different tale.

WELLMAN: That's quite correct. This information came to me via a international guard major general, who was involved with a charitable organization. He was helping a woman named Eva McLelland deal with the health issues of her husband and after the husband died, she told him the story that the man in fact had not been the Verner Nicely he had claimed to be, but in fact was Howard Hughes.

RADKE: He appointed a drug-addled homeless man to fill in for him, assumed a new identity and lived secretly in Alabama with this woman, new wife, until a few years ago?

WELLMAN: Until a few year ago. Verner Nicely, as he called himself, was actually the identity of Verner Nicely, who had disappeared in the mid-60s on a CIA mission, according to his son.

RADKE: This being a business show, I have to ask: What happened to all his money?

WELLMAN: Nick, as he called himself, his response to Eva, when she asked later, where did all the money go, he said, "My relatives screwed me out of it."

RADKE: Now this is a fantastic story and I can't verify it. Now there is some hearsay, I wonder what it's like for you to have written a non-fiction book that a lot of people are going to take as fiction.

WELLMAN: I had a very good friend, he came into my office. He could not help but smirking at the entire idea. Three weeks later, he saw me on the street, he ran up and grabbed me and said, "You're right, it's got to be true." So yeah, it's a little difficult.

RADKE: When I introduced you, I referred to troubled rich people teaching us that money doesn't buy happiness. Does this version of events teach us a lesson about money?

WELLMAN: I think it does. Hughes, of course, initially reveled in his money. But when he was in the movie business, he and actress Billie Dove took off and lived in a dirt-floor cabin in Arizona, which he later commented was one of the happiest periods in his life. He was an interesting man. He spent tons of money on movies and aircraft, but his own life was very, very simple.

RADKE: Douglas Wellman thanks for joining us.

WELLMAN: Thank you so much for having me.

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For Paul Winn to peruse!

You have made quite a stink about the post of your address and directions to your house! Here's another instance of you being disingenuous. You yourself have posted your name, address and phone number lots of times. The California bar association has your address and personal info posted. You can find it on half a dozen web sites that retain personal information. You are just doing the "lawyer talk" thing to try to intimitdate a poster who has pointed out where you have made several mistakes. Not the least of, you have the FBI disk on Howard in your house and know as well as anyone that the FBI claimed that the information in their files was unusable to do a positive identification on Howard Hughes. Then all of a sudden after he dies, those VERY SAME files suddenly furnish a "undeniable identification". That is BS and you know it! I think the Lummis clan had so much pull in Houston that they got the id as a favor and then it is also very damming to you and the Lummis clan that someone went in and scrambled the Harris county evidence lockers so that no evidence retained there could be used to identify illegitimate children! I may never prove that but don't you just bet on it!!!! You're just trying to grab some legal Dumbo jumbo to try to threaten people with stalking to intimidate them. You have used this tactic your whole life and this is one instance where it simply won't work. Why don't you just come clean and give the public all that hidden "material" you have on the Hughes legend?

What a bunch of horse pucky. Archie MacDonald my grandfather. Mabe not was the man who loaned Howard Hughes jr the money to tie over until He married Ella Rice. It was arranged so Hughs could take over the estate at 19. I have the note.

Ohh, on Mr. Winn's certification of the FBI fingerprint files (there are about 3 from different gov agencies). I have the FBI disk on Howard and interestingly, several years before Howard died, the FBI was asked to verify Howard's fingerprints from the FBI files. They replied that it was impossible to do from the prints they had on file, BUT when Howard died, these SAME sets of prints were used to make a positive identification of the corpse. Obviously someone lied about the files at the FBI at least once. In my opinion, someone scammed a positive identification.

Mr. Wellman, Since you're obviously preping to endeavor to produce a new movie about Howard's life, wouldn't it be a switch if you could find the real son of Howard mentioned in your book and get him to play the part of Nic but not let anyone know who he is until AFTER they have seen the movie! Given Howard's 3 women at dinner farce, that kinda sounds like him, doesn't it???

Paul said he was available but he neglected to give any of the Boxes people the proper info to get in touch with him Here is his contact info. Paul B. Winn 8529 Glenmount Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89134 (702)363-8227 IMZGR81@COX.NET Take Rampart off Charleston Ave, Turn Left on Dell Webb, First right after shopping plaza and then right on Glenmount. You have a nice day Mr. Winn.

Hey Paul:
Good to see you back, you've been so quite lately that I thought several times about calling your house and asking about your health. Guess you're still among the living, and that's good.

This book raises some interesting questions and I called the general that did the research, he's quite a nice guy. There is a site with DNA up to be tested against Howards. Since I'm in that kind of work, I offered to go to the sites that Nic lived and test for DNA to compare to that site, but so far they haven't agreed to do that testing.

I don't know the reason, but I do know that two groups have been trying to get a court admissible sample of Howard's DNA. Maybe Mr. Muscik is going to do that testing himself, as he is surely a capable investigator in his own right.

On Mr. Winn's comment: I have researched Howard Hughes for over 30 years and there are a couple things in the book that I'm leery of, but one thing I will tell you: I'm leery of and that is anything Mr. Winn says. He has contradicted himself a number of times and I have personally interviewed a number of people who worked for Howard and around him who contradicted the entire "penthouse" story of the Mormon aides. I will warn Mr. Winn that since this book came out: I have been trying to track the "other Mormon crew" (since assuming Boxes is true, there had to be a second one) and I have a number of interesting coincidences of other people with the last name "Winn" living in the same areas as Eva and Nic was supposed to have lived. I can't go into it any more at this time, but stay tuned,

How could anyone doubt this story? Gotta go -- just got a call from Clifford Irving.


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