Hughes was living life in the fast lane until 1946; while test flying a prototype, he crashed and nearly died. While recuperating, Howard Hughes became dependent on pain relievers. Over time, his behavior became increasingly more erratic. He became an eccentric recluse: for one four-month stretch he stayed in the darkened room of a screening studio, eating nothing but chocolate bars, chicken, and milk, and obsessively watching movies.
By 1966, at the age of 60, he was the world’s wealthiest man, but he lived in constant fear of contagious disease. His employees had to wash their hands frequently and wear white gloves. He would use tissues to pick up items, and burned his clothing, fearing he’d had some contact with germs. Towards the end of his life, he was injecting codeine daily. His hygiene rapidly declined: he rarely bathed or brushed his teeth and allowed his nails to grow grotesquely long. His once-strapping 6-foot-4-inch frame shrank to barely 90 pounds. While flying to a hospital in Houston in 1976, he died of kidney failure. The FBI insisted on taking fingerprints to confirm that this pitiful shell of a man was indeed the legendary Howard Hughes. – Amazing Facts