Howard Hughes books reap benefits from <i>The Aviator</i> publicity

NEW YORK: The impending national release of Martin Scorcese's new Howard Hughes biopic, The Aviator, has rekindled interest in the books of the famous movie producing playboy, airplane magnate, and recluse.

NEW YORK: The impending national release of Martin Scorcese's new Howard Hughes biopic, The Aviator, has rekindled interest in the books of the famous movie producing playboy, airplane magnate, and recluse.

The Aviator, which opens in select cities today and nationwide on December 25, stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Hughes and has already won applause from critics and six Golden Globe nominations, including Best Picture.

According to Amazon.com, five books about Hughes have either been released or re-released since September of this year. And as talk shows, book reviewers, and feature writers look for commentary on Hughes' life, publishers like Da Capo Press are more than happy to offer their services.

Da Capo Press, which re-released Howard Hughes: The Untold Story, by authors Peter Brown and Pat Broeske, on November 30, has received publicity and marketing opportunities it could not have managed on its own, according to Dan O'Neal, assistant editor. The book was originally published in 1997 and became a best seller.

"[While] it had a great life in the first edition, it wouldn't have had a second edition without the movie and the exposure," O'Neal said.

Broeske has appeared on Boys Toys on The History Channel and on CBS Sunday Morning. Also, the book was mentioned in a Publishers' Weekly Daily article, as well as in a New York Times piece called, "Reading Films, Watching Books," which called the book "the most measured, despite its celebrity-gossip tone and its emphasis on Hughes's women."

Perhaps the most important endorsement came via a USA Today article, which cited Untold Story as DiCaprio's impetus for wanting to do a movie about Hughes.

O'Neal said both writers were thrilled with the renewed interest in their book and in Hughes' life.

"With part of the history of Hughes, he can be seen as caricature," O'Neal said, referring to Hughes' germophobic stage in the twilight of his life. "They're excited that more attention is being paid to a full picture of Hughes."

"He really is one of the great characters of the 20 century," O'Neal said. "There is no part of his life that isn't interesting."

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