You Must Remember This

Rupert Hughes’ Women

Howard Hughes wasn’t the first member of his family to have a colorful history with women.

The cover of the book Seduction: Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes's Hollywood.
Karina Longworth’s latest book is Seduction: Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes’s Hollywood. Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by rawpixel on Unsplash and Custom House.

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In the new book Seduction: Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes’s Hollywood, Karina Longworth explores the lives and careers of more than a dozen actresses who were involved, professionally and/or personally, with Howard Hughes.

Inspired by the You Must Remember This episodes on “The Many Loves of Howard Hughes” produced in 2014–15, the book goes in depth, with much new research, into the stories of stars like Jean Harlow, Ginger Rogers, Ida Lupino, Jane Russell, and many more. In this short season of You Must Remember This, we’ll discuss some of the women who serve as peripheral characters in Seduction: four actresses who were briefly seduced by Hughes, either professionally or romantically, and one writer whose travails in Hollywood during the Hughes era speak to the conflicted female experience behind the camera in 20th century Hollywood.


We begin the season by talking about the complicated, intermingled romantic and professional relationships of Rupert Hughes.

Howard Hughes was not the first man in his family to find success in Hollywood, or to have a reputation built in part on multiple relationships with women. His uncle, Rupert Hughes, was a respected writer and director in the silent era, whose accomplishments included one of the first Hollywood meta-movies. He also married three times while making frequent public statements—and films—critiquing marriage and divorce laws. One of his marriages ended in a sensational divorce trial; the other two wives died by suicide.


Podcast production by Olivia Natt.