Last week I wrote about Konrad Kujau, Gerd Heidemann and there faking of the ‘Hitler Diaries’
Now you may think that faking the life of someone who’s dead is a easy thing to do try the same trick when that person is still alive and calling it a “autobiography”.
Such a problem was on faced by Clifford Irving and his friend Richard Suskind when they set out to write a book on an American business magnate, investor, aviator, aerospace engineer, film maker and philanthropist. Howard Hughes
A little background information on Howard Hughes he was born on December 24, 1905 or October 7, 1906,his true age and date of birth are not clear but was is the fact at age 12 he showed great aptitude in engineering building Houston’s first radio transmitter and was photographed in the local newspaper, identified as being the first boy in Houston to have a “motorized” bicycle, which he had built himself from parts taken from his father’s steam engine. He was an indifferent student with a liking for mathematics, flying, and things mechanical, taking his first flying lesson at 14 and later auditing math and aeronautical engineering courses at Caltech.
In March 1922 his mother died from complications of an ectopic pregnancy. In January 1924, Howard Hughes Sr. died of a heart attack. Their deaths apparently inspired Hughes to include the creation of a medical research laboratory in his will that he signed in 1925, at age 19. Because Howard Sr.’s will had not been updated since Allene’s death, Hughes inherited 75 percent of the family fortune.
On his 19th birthday, Hughes was declared an emancipated minor, enabling him to take full control of his legacy.
As early as the 1930s, Hughes displayed signs of mental illness, primarily obsessive-compulsive disorder. As a result of numerous aircraft crashes, Hughes spent much of his later life in pain, eventually becoming physically dependent on codeine, which he injected intramuscularly
Hughes had his hair cut and nails trimmed only once a year, likely due to the pain caused by the RSD/CRPS, which was caused by the plane crashes.
He may have been in such severe chronic pain from his extensive injuries, so much so that even the act of tooth brushing was painful, so he avoided it Once one of the most visible men in America, Hughes ultimately vanished from public view, although the tabloids continued to follow rumours of his behaviour and whereabouts. He was reported to be terminally ill, mentally unstable or even dead.
So in 1970, Clifford Irving and Richard Suskind got together to write about Hughes life but to became apparent that just writing about Hughes was not going to make a best seller so they had to come up with something new a “autobiography” would hold the key
Suskind did most of the necessary research in news archives. Irving started by enlisting the aid of artist and writer friends in order to forge letters in Hughes’s own hand, they were even able to gained access to the private files of Time-Life, as well as a manuscript by James Phelan, who was ghost-writing memoirs of Noah Dietrich, former business manager to Hughes
And by 1971 they had a fully working manuscript which Irving gave to McGraw-Hill for the sum US$765,000, with US$100,000 going to Irving and the rest to Hughes.
He included notes in Hughes’s forged handwriting that an expert forensic document analyst declared genuine. Hughes experts at Time-Life were also convinced. McGraw-Hill announced its intention to publish the book in March 1972
But several representatives of Hughes’s companies and other people who had known Hughes expressed doubts but Irving replied that Hughes had simply not told them about the book. McGraw-Hill and Life, which had paid to publish excerpts of the book, continued to support Irving. Osborn Associates, a firm of handwriting experts, declared the writing samples were authentic.
But on January 7, 1972, Hughes contacted the outside world. He arranged a telephone conference with seven journalists who had known him years before. It took place two days later; the journalists’ end of the conversation was televised. Hughes denounced Irving, said that he had never even met him, and the money . McGraw-Hill paid by checks had been made out to “H. R. Hughes”, which Irving’s Swiss wife Edith deposited to a Swiss bank account.
The Irvings confessed on January 28, 1972. They and Suskind were indicted for fraud, appeared in federal court on March 13, and were found guilty on June 16. Irving was convicted and spent 17 months in prison at the federal correctional facility in Danbury, Connecticut, and at the Federal Correctional Complex
He voluntarily returned the US$765,000 advance to his publishers. Suskind was sentenced to six months and served five. Edith, a.k.a. “Helga”, served time in America and in Switzerland.