23. Few Would be Surprised to Learn That This Rich Tycoon Was Not Always a Nice Guy
It is unlikely that a whole lot of people would be surprised to learn that Howard Hughes (1905 – 1976), the billionaire recluse, eccentric, and all-around weirdo, was not a nice guy. It is the extremes to which he went – and the extreme pettiness involved – in order to pull off some of his nastiness that are surprising. Like that one time when the rich tycoon bought a major movie studio to which an ex-girlfriend was contracted, just so he could wreck her career.
Hughes’ victim was Jane Greer (1924 – 2001), a film noir actress who made a splash in the 1940s with femme fatale roles in movies such as Dick Tracy, Out of the Past, and The Big Steal. In 1942, when she was eighteen, Greer caught Hughes’ eye when he saw her modeling in Life magazine. Infatuated, he sponsored Greer and sent her to Hollywood to become an actress. When she showed an interest in other men, it enraged Hughes. He reasoned that he had made her, and that he thus had every right to break her.