BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Actress Terry Moore said Tuesday the family of Howard Hughes has agreed she is the legal widow of the late billionaire and entitled to a settlement of 'not more than eight figures.'
Miss Moore and her attorney, Arthur Leeds, showed reporters at a news conference a copy of a document purported to be the formal settlement reached through the Eighth District Court in Nevada, which affirms the actress' claim that her 1949 shipboard marriage to Hughes was legal and never dissolved.
All the amounts in the document were blanked out, but Miss Moore, who was in the 1957 film 'Peyton Place,' said the settlement was between five and eight figures and enough for her to live the rest of her life off the interest.
Miss Moore claimed she and Hughes were married aboard his yacht off the coast of San Diego by the ship's captain, and that they were never divorced despite both having married other people in the meantime.
Miss Moore admitted being a bigamist, and said she did not try to divorce Hughes because, 'I was afraid he wouldn't let me go.'
Leeds said the formal agreement was signed by Hughes' blood relatives and others with an interest in the estate and 'settled in her favor.'
'The relatives agreed she and Howard were married in 1949 and remained married until his death April 5, 1976,' he said.
'Miss Moore will be paid before any of the other heirs,' Leeds said. But he also said it would be the heirs who would pay her the money and no funds have been distributed yet from the estate, which is still tied up in courts in California, Texas and Nevada.
He said he expects Miss Moore to have the cash within six weeks.
Miss Moore entered the news conference at the Beverly Hills Hotel to an introduction by her press agent, Monroe Friedman, as 'Mrs. Howard Hughes.' She was dressed in a pink jump suit and striped jacket and carried a single long stemmed red rose.
'I waited a lifetime, more than 30 years to hear those three words, 'Mrs. Howard Hughes,'' she said.
Miss Moore's real name is Helen Luella Koford, and she was born into a strict Mormon family in Glendale, Calif. Her official biography at RKO Studios, which Hughes once owned, listed her birthdate as Jan. 7, 1929, which would make her 54.
Miss Moore married West Point football legend Glenn Davis in a Mormon ceremony in 1951 but she claims in a court affidavit, 'I was literally forced into the marriage by the studio. I only stayed with Glenn Davis for approximately two months, at which time I returned to Hughes.'
She divorced Davis in 1952 and married insurance man Eugene McGrath in 1956. They divorced in 1958. She then married financier Stuart Cramer III in 1959, also in a Mormon ceremony. They had two sons and were divorced in 1969. Cramer, ironically, was also married for two months in 1954 to actress Jean Peters, to whom Hughes was married from 1957 to 1972.
'My later 'marriages' to Stuart Cramer and Eugene McGrath were due to my deep desire to bear children, which Hughes refused to permit me to do,' Miss Moore said in a court affidavit. 'These relationships were not the result of any belief on my part that I was not still married to Hughes.'
Miss Moore became pregnant by Hughes after their marriage but she lost the baby, a girl born three months premature.
Miss Moore started in the movies in 1940 in 'Maryland' after a career as a child model. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her supporting role in 'Come Back Little Sheba' in 1952.
She received the Mannheim Film Festival Award for her 1960 film, 'Why Must I Die?' which she also produced. Her last film was 'Death Dimension' in 1978.