Howard Robard Hughes, Jr. (September 24, 1905 – April 5, 1976) was an American aviator, engineer, industrialist, film producer, director, philanthropist, and was one of the wealthiest people in the world. He gained prominence from the late 1920s as a maverick film producer, making big-budget and often controversial films like The Racket (1928), Hell's Angels (1930), Scarface (1932), and The Outlaw (1943). Hughes was one of the most influential aviators in history: he set multiple world air-speed records, built the Hughes H-1 Racer and H-4 "Hercules" (better known to history as the "Spruce Goose") aircraft, and acquired and expanded Trans World Airlines which would later on merge with American Airlines. Hughes is also remembered for his eccentric behavior and reclusive lifestyle in later life, caused in part by a worsening obsessive–compulsive disorder. His legacy is maintained through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Hughes birthplace is recorded as either Humble or Houston, Texas. The date is also uncertain, though Hughes claimed his birthday was Christmas Eve. A 1941 affidavit birth certificate of Hughes signed by his aunt Annette Gano Lummis and Estelle Boughton Sharp states he was born on December 24, 1905, in Harris County, Texas. However, his baptismal record of October 7, 1906, in the parish register of St. John's Episcopal Church, in Keokuk, Iowa, has his birth listed as September 24, 1905, without reference to the place of birth.
His parents were Allene Stone Gano (a descendant of Owen Tudor, second husband of Catherine of Valois, Dowager Queen of England) and Howard R. Hughes, Sr., who patented the two-cone roller bit, which allowed rotary drilling for petroleum in previously inaccessible places. Howard R. Hughes, Sr. made the shrewd and lucrative decision to commercialize the invention, founding the Hughes Tool Company in 1909.