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President George Herbert Walker Bush died in his home on November 30th following a long battle with Vascular Parkinson’s disease. Below is a brief overview of his life:
- Born June 12th, 1924 to Prescott Sheldon Bush (1895 – 1972) and Dorothy Bush (1901 – 1992).
- Attended Greenwich Country Day School
- Attended Phillips Academy in Andover Massachusetts from 1938
- Held numerous leadership positions including President of the senior class, secretary of the student council, president of the community fund-raising group, member of the editorial board of the school newspaper, and captain of the varsity baseball and soccer teams
- Served in the US Navy as a naval aviator from 1942 until 1945
- Attained the rank of junior-grade Lieutenant
- Earnt the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, and President Unit Citation
- Married Barbara Bush (1925 – 2018) in January 1945
- Fathered six children: President George W. Bush (1946 – ), Robin Bush (1949 – 1953), Jeb Bush (1953 – ), Neil Bush (1955 – ), Marvin Bush (1956 – ), and Doro Bush (1959 – ).
- Enrolled at Yale University where he earnt an undergraduate degree in economics on an accelerated program which allowed him to complete his studies in two years.
- Elected President of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity
- Captain of the Yale Baseball Team with whom he played two college world series as a left-handed batsman
- Became a member of the secret Skull and Bones Society
- Elected Phi Beta Kappa, America’s oldest academic honour society, upon graduating Yale in 1948.
- Worked as an oil field equipment salesman for Dressler Industries
- Established Bush-Overby Oil Development Company in 1951
- Co-founded Zapata Petroleum Corporation, which drilled in Texas’ Permian Basin, in 1953
- Became President of Zapata Offshore Company
- After Zapata Offshore Company became independent in 1959, Bush served as its President until 1964 and then Chairman until 1966
- Elected Chairman of the Harris County, Texas Republican Party
- Ran against Democrat incumbent Ralph W. Yarborough for the US Senate in 1964, but lost
- Elected to the House of Representatives in 1966
- Appointed to the Ways and Means Committee
- Ran against Democrat Lloyd Bentsen for a seat in the Senate in 1970, but lost
- Served as the US Ambassador the United Nations from 1971 to 1973.
- Served as Chairman of the Republican Nation Committee from 1973 to 1974.
- Appointed Chief of the US Liason Office in the People’s Republic of China from 1974 to 1975.
- Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 1976 to 1977.
- Chairman of the Executive Committee of the First International Bank in 1977
- Part-time Professor of Administrative Science at Rice University’s Jones School of Businesses in 1978
- Director of the Council On Foreign Relations between 1977 and 1979.
- Sought the Republican nomination for President in 1980 but lost to Ronald Reagan.
- Served as Vice President from 1981 to 1989.
- Elected President of the United States in 1988.
- President of the United States from 1989 to 1993.
- Defeated by Bill Clinton in the 1992 Presidential election
- Awarded an honourary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II.
- Chairman of the board of trustee for Eisenhower Fellowships from 1993 to 1999
- Chairman of the National Constitution Centre from 2007 to 2009.
- Became a widower after seventy-three-years of marriage.
- Died November 30th, 2018 at the age of 94.
For our weekly cultural article, we will be examining Martin Scorsese’s 2004 masterpiece, the Aviator: a biopic of the legendary businessman, aviator, filmmaker, and eccentric, Howard Robard Hughes, Jr. (1905 – 1976).
The Aviator stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Hughes, Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn (1907 – 2003), and Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner (1922 – 1990). It focuses on Hughes’ glory years and is set between the late 1920s and the late 1940s.
The film essentially follows two competing storylines. The first storyline depicts Hughes’ struggle with his mental health, his battle with his worsening OCD and paranoia which, by the end of his life, would culminate in utter madness. In this guise, Hughes is depicted as a man whose intense germophobia renders him unable to touch the doorknob of a public toilet (he has to wait for someone else to open the door so he can leave), who washes his hands so ferociously he actually draws blood, who gets stuck repeating the same phrase over and over again (“the way of the future, the way of the future, the way of the future”), and who locks himself in his projection room for months on end.
The second storyline focuses on Hughes’ life as an entrepreneur: his success as a filmmaker, his successful career as an aviation pioneer, and his fight with the Senate War Investigating Committee. In this guise, Hughes is depicted as a man of unbridled ambition spurned on by his incredible early successes and comforted by legions of romantic conquests (which would include Katharine Hepburn and Ava Gardner, among others). The film opens with Hughes directing the Hell’s Angels (1930). An early theme is quickly established, with Hughes’ peers ridiculing him for his boldness and ambition. By the end of the film, Hughes defies prediction by successfully test flying the H-4 Hercules.
HOWARD HUGHES: THE MAN
The Aviator ends after Hughes’ after the successful test flight of the Hercules. In real life, Hughes lived another twenty-nine years and died a lunatic and a recluse. If you happened upon the man during the final years of his life you would describe him as an impoverished and gaudy man of six-foot-four. When he died of kidney failure in 1976, he weighed only 40kg, had grotesquely long fingernails, toenails, hair, and beard, and had hypodermic needles embedded in his arms. So unrecognisable was Hughes that the FBI was forced to rely on his fingerprints to identify him.
Howard Hughes ought to be remembered, and admired, as a brilliant businessman and pioneer. He was an eccentric perfectionist who, between the ages of eighteen and seventy, managed to amass a personal wealth of one-and-a-half billion dollars. He was a man who made remarkable, and often groundbreaking, successes in film, aviation, and real estate. Between 1926 and 1957, Hughes produced twenty-six movies, including Scarface (1932) and the Outlaw (1943), and directed the classic World War One air warfare film Hell’s Angels (1930).
As an aviator, Hughes’ not only helped to revolutionise air travel, he also set many aviation records personally. In 1935, Hughes set the overland flying record by travelling nearly 352mph over Santa Ana, California. In 1937, Hughes set the record for transcontinental flight by flying from Burbank California to Newark, New Jersey in seven hours, twenty-eight minutes, and twenty-five seconds. Then in 1938, Hughes, along with a four man team, circumnavigated the globe in a record three days, nineteen hours, and seventeen minutes.
In a re-release trailer for Hell’s Angels, Howard Hughes is introduced as:
“Howard Hughes: millionaire genius, was a pioneer in aviation and motion pictures. He defied convention, set new patterns for others to follow, made stars of unknowns, and left the world a legacy of film classics.”
Howard Hughes represents a type of man that doesn’t really exist anymore: the bold, dashing, larger-than-life individual. A man who achieved incredible things against what was often overwhelming odds. It is characters like Hughes that build countries and improve the world we all live in. And it is films like the Aviator which presents their stories to us.