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LIFE.com: Out of Sight: Famous Recluses

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Howard Hughes, 1905 - 1976

Visionary, aviator, film producer and director, and for years one of the richest men in the world, Howard Hughes is probably remembered today more for his eccentric behavior and reclusiveness late in life than his technical genius and badass, maverick persona. In his final years he lived in a curtained penthouse at the Desert Inn hotel in Vegas—one of five casino hotels he owned. Engineering genius, squire of Hollywood beauties, and battler against long odds, he was a broken, battered soul when he died. One can't help feeling that, for all of his accomplishments—and there were so many, from his aviation records to his Hollywood triumphs—much of Hughes' life must have been a day-to-day horror. (J. R. Eyerman/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images/LIFE.com)
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