Howard Hughes Horrors

Diving back into the Charles Higham biography of billionaire wacko Howard Hughes, I found this nugget. In 1953, when Hughes was planning one of his dreadful ’50s movies, “The Conqueror,” about the life of Genghis Khan, he decided to do the filming in the Nevada desert. At this same time, the US government set up a series of more than 100 nuclear explosions at Yucca Flat, and radioactive ash fell over a wide uninhabited region. Yet Hughes kept his plan to film in a little Mormon town called St. George. All of his bodyguards and aides at the time were Mormon, since he felt that they wouldn’t try to sleep with his girlfriends and would be of “high moral character.”

The temperatures during the filming were 120 degrees and 5,000 extras with 1,000 horses were trucked in, while Hughes himself never set foot in this dusty, godforsaken nuclear polluted town. The end result was that all of the stars of the film, including John Wayne, died of cancer, and half of the film crew died. Later Hughes had 60 tons of radioactive dust shipped to Hollywood so they could finish filming the Gobi desert scenes.