Did Howard Hughes Use a Game of Golf to Get Howard Hawks to Direct a Movie For Him?

This is the latest in a series of examinations of urban legends related to golf and whether they are true or false.

GOLF URBAN LEGEND: Howard Hughes used golf to work out an argument with Howard Hawks.

The eccentric millionaire Howard Hughes was born to a rich family.

The young Hughes decided to make his own fortune (beginning, of course, with his family fortune backing him) by moving from Texas (where his family built a fortune on the oil business) to Los Angeles to make movies.

One of his first big successes was the World War I war film, Hell’s Angels, in 1930 (co-starring the sultry Jean Harlow)…

Well, another hit of 1930 was The Dawn Patrol…

a World War I war film directed and co-written by the legendary film director Howard Hawks…

Hughes felt that The Dawn Patrol ripped off elements from his film, so he sued Howard Hawks.

While the lawsuit was going on, Hughes decided to make a film based on the gangster, Al Capone. The perfect director for this film, Hughes determined, was Howard Hawks!!

Hughes had to think of a way to convince Hawks to do the film. That’s when Hughes came upon an idea – he and Hawks shared an interest in the game of golf – thus, an idea was born!

Hawks was getting ready to begin a game of golf when the golf pro came up to him to tell him that Howard Hughes wanted to play golf with him. Hawks, of course, cussed Hughes out and refused (basically saying something like “I’m not going to play golf with the son of a bitch who’s suing me!!”). The pro relayed the message, but returned and said that Hughes would drop the suit if Hawks would play golf with him.

Hawks accepted the offer, and Hughes arrived and the men began playing – at first in silence, but as the game went on, they began to talk about the course, and by the end of the game, Hughes had convinced Hawks to take the helm of Scarface!!

Scarface became a legendary film upon its release in 1931.

While the above story has been verified by Hughes and Hawks many times over the years, one aspect of the story differs depending on who is telling the story – Hughes says he won the game, while Hawks claims that it was him.

The legend is…


Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

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