Howard Robard Hughes Jr. was an American business magnate, investor, record-setting pilot, engineer, film director, and philanthropist, known during his lifetime as one of the most influential and financially successful individuals in the world. He first became prominent as a film producer, and then as an important figure in the aviation industry. Later in life, he became known for his eccentric behavior and reclusive lifestyle—oddities that were caused in part by his worsening obsessive-compulsive disorder, chronic pain from a near-fatal plane crash, and increasing deafness.
As a film tycoon, Hughes gained fame in Hollywood beginning in the late 1920s, when he produced big-budget and often controversial films such as The Racket, Hell's Angels, and Scarface. He later took over the RKO Pictures film studio in 1948, recognized then as one of the Big Five studios of Hollywood's Golden Age, although the production company struggled under his control and ultimately ceased operations in 1957.
Through his interest in aviation and aerospace travel, Hughes formed the Hughes Aircraft Company in 1932, hiring numerous engineers, designers, and defense contractors.