We've at times referred to the role Howard Hughes played in the life of Carole Lombard; at least one biographer claims Hughes was the first person Lombard experienced intimacy with in an affair committed with utmost discretion, and Carole may have been among those Hughes considered to replace Greta Nissen when "Hell's Angels" became a sound film before he settled on Jean Harlow (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/11206.html).
However, Howard wasn't the only member of the Hughes family whose life would intersect with Lombard's. There was also an uncle named Rupert, who was 36 when Lombard was born and nowhere as rich as his celebrated nephew.
There was no romantic relationship between Rupert Hughes and Carole; in fact, I'm not sure they ever met. But Hughes, a leading popular literary figure for much of the 1920s and 1930s, wrote the stories on which two of her films would be based.
Above is an ad in the December 1930 Photoplay magazine promoting Hughes' latest story, then running in installments in William Randolph Hearst's Cosmopolitan magazine. Entitled "No One Man," it was the story of irresponsible socialite Penelope Newbold, who couldn't find one man to satisfy all her wants and needs. Lombard would play Penelope in the film adaptation, issued in early 1932 and considered among her weakest Paramount vehicles.
This was actually Carole's second go-round with a Hughes story. The first was "Ladies' Man," her second film with William Powell and a serialized story in Cosmopolitan in late 1929.
Hughes was a prodigious writer and quite popular at the time, though he is little remembered today. He wrote everything from short stories to novels to non-fiction, including a multi-volume George Washington biography of which Lombard biographer Larry Swindell (who'd written Carole and Howard Hughes had an affair, though Hughes was still alive at the time so he couldn't publicly identify him by name) wrote in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "The Hughes study of Washington was a literary controversy of the Roaring '20s. Rather than viewing the father of our country as an icon, Hughes depicted him as a human being with discernible flaws who married the widow Martha Custis for her money." Certainly an interesting angle for the time.
Hughes, who also directed eight silents during the 1920s (most notably the inside view of the industry "Souls For Sale"), continued writing into the 1940s and 1950s, and his later works featured much the same anti-communist tone that his nephew was emphasizing while running (and ultimately destroying) RKO. Rupert died in Hollywood in September 1956.
Hughes was the subject of a 1997 biography, "Rupert Hughes: A Hollywood Legend," by James Kemm.