29. The Creepy Tycoon Who Signed a Teenager to a “Personal Contract”
Jane Greer’s mother, who worked for the War Department, saw to it that her daughter was one of three young women chosen to model uniforms for the new Women’s Army Corps (WAC) in 1942. When her modeling appeared in the June 8, 1942, issue of Life magazine, many across the country were smitten, including Howard Hughes. The eccentric tycoon liked collecting people – especially beautiful women – like normal folk collect stamps. So he signed the teenaged model to a personal contract.
“Personal contract” was as creepy as it sounds. Soon after she signed, Hughes told the teenager that he never wanted her to marry anyone. At first, that was no problem for the inexperienced Greer, who initially liked Hughes. As she put it years later: “I found him rather endearing, like a child. His idea was to go to the amusement park … He won a large collection of Kewpie dolls for me”. When Greer welcomed the attentions of other men, however, Hughes’ jerk side came out.