LOS ANGELES, Oct. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- J. Herbert Klein wants to set the record straight about Howard Hughes - the renowned movie producer, entrepreneur, and aviator. "Howard Hughes has been portrayed on film as a nervous, indecisive eccentric," Klein remarked in a recent interview. "But, in my experience, nothing could be further from the truth."
Klein met Hughes in mid-1955 when he signed a deal with the mogul - at the time, head of RKO Studios - for DEATH OF A SCOUNDREL, a "ripped from the headlines" movie based on the murder of tycoon Serge Rubinstein. Rubinstein's murder on January 27, 1955 was never solved, but the shady businessman had so many enemies that a New York police detective remarked they had narrowed the list of suspects to 10,000.
Hughes gave the green light to DEATH OF A SCOUNDREL because the story had a moral - Clementi Sabourin, the scoundrel in the title, pays back the people he had cheated, and dies trying to do the right thing.
"Clementi Sabourin was a bad guy," Klein explained, "along the lines of Bernard Madoff. He gained people's trust and then robbed them blind. But, unlike Madoff, our scoundrel had a change of heart - that's what drew Hughes to the material."
Klein believes Hughes was searching for a story that would serve as his legacy when he decided to make DEATH OF A SCOUNDREL. "He knew it would be his last picture," Klein recalled, "and, for that reason, wanted to make sure it had a positive message - that people should live by the Golden Rule."
Klein would also like to challenge the perception that Hughes couldn't make up his mind. "Hughes was decisive about every aspect of DEATH OF A SCOUNDREL. He cast the major roles - George Sanders, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Yvonne De Carlo, and hired James Wong Howe as cinematographer and Max Steiner to do the score. He couldn't have picked a better team - it included three Oscar winners."
Howard Hughes impressed Klein as an honorable business partner. "We made the deal with Hughes shortly before he sold RKO," Klein revealed. "But he still made good on his promise to pay us a $100,000 finishing bonus and made sure the new owners distributed our film."
Klein is happy for the chance to set the record straight about Hughes in his memoir, ROAD TO HOLLYWOOD. But there's one more thing he'd like to fix when it comes to Howard Hughes' legacy. He wants to see Howard Hughes honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. "Howard Hughes was a film pioneer. The Hollywood community should give him some honor and recognition, not just eccentric portrayals in the movies."
J. Herbert Klein's memoir, ROAD TO HOLLYWOOD, is available on Amazon.com. Link:
Melanie Colette, producer, International Film Arts
SOURCE International Film Arts