Terry Moore Reflects On The Ups And Downs Of Her Unconventional Marriage To Howard Hughes


Last Of A Bygone Age

One of the most impressive facts about Terry Moore is she is still working in Hollywood, despite being 90 years old. As one of the last surviving actresses of the golden age of Hollywood, she knows some of the most shocking secrets about the mighty and powerful of that bygone age. She herself, for example, was married in a forbidden ceremony to one of the richest men who ever lived, but that only scratches the surface…

Last Of A Bygone Age

Married At Sea

Shortly after Howard Hughes’ death on April 5, 1976, Terry Moore revealed that she and Hughes were married at sea by the captain of a chartered yacht, back in 1949. Howard Hughes was a very prolific businessman involved in a variety of industries, including aviation, film, casinos, mining, and more. So Moore should have inherited his estimated $7.36 billion in assets, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, the several fake wills attributed to Hughes meant it took five years for the courts to sort things out, and several factors hindered her from inheriting anything for years.

Married At Sea

“Never Put Anything In Writing”

“Howard Hughes raised me,” Terry Moore said after his death. One of the most important things he taught her, she said, was “never put anything in writing.” She likely regretted this, as Howard Hughes “tore up the ship’s log” after they were married at sea, erasing all proof of their marriage. They lasted for seven years before they parted, and there was no divorce. Unfortunately, though, even if the court did believe the ceremony happened, they considered it illegitimate for another reason…

“Never Put Anything In Writing”

Started In Radio

Terry Moore debuted in film when she was only 11 years old ion 1940, but for most of the ’40s she was better known for her radio work than film roles. She was actually born Helen Luella Koford before changing her name to Terry Moore, the name of a character she played in the 1948 film The Return of October alongside Glenn Ford. Since then, this was the name she was billed under. She was still perceived as an innocent young girl, so her wedding was allegedly kept secret to protect this reputation.

Started In Radio

Horseback Riding

According to Moore, she landed her debut role on the silver screen because she could ride a horse. This first role was in Maryland, alongside Oscar winners Fay Bainter, Walter Brennan, and Hattie McDaniel. With such an opening, it’s no surprise she was increasingly sought for more important roles. By the tail end of the 1940s, she was one of Hollywood’s rising stars, with several high-profile performances in the 1950s following her breakthrough success with roles that saw her gain critical recognition in addition to blockbuster popularity.

Horseback Riding

Three Times Married While Hughes Was Alive

The Texas courts threw out Terry Moore’s claim to Howard Hughes’ estate in the lengthy proceedings following his death, as Moore had admitted to marrying Glenn Davis and receiving a divorce settlement from him while allegedly still married to Hughes. After this, though, she didn’t stop and married two more times while Hughes was still alive. These marriages were to Eugene McGarth and Stuart Cramer III, the latter of which gave Moore two sons, Stuart Warren Cramer IV and actor Grant Cramer.

Three Times Married While Hughes Was Alive

Other Lovers

“You’re exactly where Marilyn Monroe was one year ago,” Moore recalled Hughes saying to her when they first started dating. “All you have to do is walk down the aisle with me. I’ve got millions.” After they married, allegedly, she always felt that they were still married. In the years after they split, Moore said, her “stomach would fall” every time she heard about Hughes’ romantic escapades. “I’ve always loved him. I’m a Mormon and I believe in eternal love. He’s a hard act to follow.”

Other Lovers

Desire For Children

Indeed, Moore has cited having kids as her reason for remarrying, despite still being married. All of these marriages were “because of my deep desire to have children, which Hughes refused to permit me to do.” Furthermore, she said, “I didn’t care whether I was a bigamist or not, frankly. I mean, my desire to have children was that strong.” Thankfully for her, she had two boys with her fourth husband, Stuart Cramer, a Texan oil man.

Desire For Children

Already Married

Because in her legal claim Moore admitted that she was married to football legend Glenn Davis from 1951 to 1952, and that she had received a divorce settlement when the marriage was over, the court tossed out her claim. This didn’t mean she got nothing in the end, though, but it would be years. Howard Hughes was notably also married during the time period he was allegedly still married to Moore. Actress Jean Peters and Hughes were married from 1957 until they divorced in 1971. Coincidentally, both Peters and Moore married Stuart Cramer.

Already Married

Hughes’ Hygiene

Any report on Howard Hughes is sure to pique people’s interest, and Moore’s tell-all book about their love affair, The Beauty And The Billionaire, was an instant best-seller. Hughes was an eccentric recluse who also had obsessive-compulsive disorder, and many have relayed anecdotes to the public about his over-the top antics. Moore revealed that Hughes, for example, shaved three times a day but neglected his fingernails and toenails. “He didn’t always wear a clean shirt,” she said, “but he bathed frequently.”

Hughes’ Hygiene

Teaching Her To Fly

According to Terry Moore, Hughes brought a sense of adventure to her life that she hadn’t known. There was a significant age gap between the two, but she eventually fell in love with him despite not really knowing who he was when they met. Raised a devout Mormon, Hughes opened Moore up to adventures. He “sort of scared me and intrigued me,” she said. In addition, she said, “He taught me to fly and I fell madly in love with him.”

Teaching Her To Fly

Oscar Nomination

Terry Moore had originally signed with Columbia Pictures, which helped her get the exposure her career needed. Notably, she was borrowed by RKO Pictures at around the same time that Howard Hughes took over control of the studio. All of this culminated in an Oscar nomination for the young actress after her stellar supporting performance in 1952’s Come Back, Little Sheba. She didn’t win, but the film’s starring actress, Shirley Booth, won an Oscar after reprising the role that won her a Tony onstage, notably.

Oscar Nomination

More Roles

Moore, now a professional actress with over a decade of experience, comfortably settled into stardom as she played in lead role after lead role. Her popularity and beauty made her one of the most popular pin-up girls of the Korean War era. By 1956, though, her relationship with Hughes was over. According to her, this is because of his infidelity. “He was honest in business, but dishonest with women. His motto was, ‘It’s OK as long as you don’t get caught.’ He could lie better than anyone.”

More Roles

Meeting Hughes

“The first time I met Howard, I was 18 years old and I was with my boyfriend,” Moore recalls. “Every time we’d see him, he’d ask us to have a drink with him.” Then an agent friend of Moore’s told them, “He’s a friend of my mother’s. We should go.” Next thing Moore knew, “We were ordering 7-Ups and we looked against the wall at the Beverly Wilshire [hotel] and there was this tall, lanky stranger. All I remember is it seemed like he unfolded, he was so tall.”

Meeting Hughes

Rubbing Shoulders With The Greats

As one of the leading ladies of Hollywood in the 1950s, she got to know and befriended many people in the industry, many of whom are no longer with us. She played alongside many of the greats, such as James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Rock Hudson, Fred Astair, and Ty Power. Although she continued to be active (indeed, she is still active to this day), she played in less and less leading roles as she began appearing more in TV and direct-to-video movies.

Rubbing Shoulders With The Greats

Most Romantic Man

Terry Moore describes Howard Hughes as “one of the great lovers of our time,” even though other women who were allegedly romantically involved with the reclusive businessman described him as criminally abusive. While some of Hughes’ former lovers said he was tender, others have come out and said he was controlling; allegedly, he even tapped phone lines! “Howard was the most romantic man I ever knew,” Moore countered. She has hinted that there “may have been” kids, but has shown no such proof.

Most Romantic Man

Financial Settlement

Although her marriage to Howard Hughes was never officially recognized, she eventually did settle her claim with the heirs of the Hughes fortune. Different sources claim that she received different amounts, ranging from a mere $350,000 to $15 million. However much the final settlement amounted to, it “allows me to live comfortably on the interest for the rest of my life,” Moore said. While she has never disclosed the amount, attorneys for the heirs said it was “not more than eight figures.”

Financial Settlement

Forced To Marry

As for why she got married to Glenn Davis while she was still married to Howard Hughes, Moore revealed that it was external pressure. “My family and the studio urged me to marry Davis,” she said. “I didn’t want to.” This was clearly bigamy and illegal in most of the world, which she was aware of. “All my life,” she said, “I was scared something would come out about it.” Luckily for her, she was able to inform the public on her own terms.

Forced To Marry

Why He Was So Secluded

According to Terry Moore, the reason for Hughes’ seclusion was his poor health and increasing difficulties hearing. “When he walked into a room he felt uncomfortable because he couldn’t hear people talking to him,” Moore said. “When people looked at him and turned to their companions, he thought they were saying things about him.” Hughes was in an airplane crash in the 1940s that left him with medical issues that allegedly got worse over the years.

Why He Was So Secluded

No Sleep

One of Hughes’ most notable quirks was his unbelievable ability to be so productive despite hardly sleeping. “Most of the time we would have dinner out,” Moore recalled. “Then we would go to Goldwyn Studios and watch movies all night.” This sort of all-night binge-watching would continue into his later years. In fact, he reportedly purchased a local Las Vegas TV station when he was living there. From that day, there was a 24-hour TV station in Las Vegas that played movies all night, with no commercials.

No Sleep

“One Of The Best Roles I’ve Ever Had”

Moore will feature in Vladislav Kozlov’s Silent Life, to be released in 2020, about Hollywood’s ladies’ man, Rudolph Valentino. This role made her recall working with legendary director Elia Kazan, with whom she worked in the 1953 film Man on a Tightrope. “If Kazan had told me to jump off a roof and wouldn’t get hurt, I would have done it!” she said. This “same level of confidence” was brought out in her when working with Kozlov. But something else brought her back to the good old days…

“One Of The Best Roles I’ve Ever Had”

Tyrone Power

Valentino’s grave is near Tyrone Power’s, Moore’s costar in King of the Khyber Rifles. Moore recalled getting chills seeing Power’s tombstone from the corner of her eye, as he told her, “If I die tomorrow, I want two things: to die on set and to have a son.” Power did both, she said, as he sadly died of a heart attack while filming the 1958 film Solomon and Sheba, while two months later his widow gave birth to a baby boy, Tyrone Power IV. Moore appeared with him in the 2015 movie Mansion of Blood.

Tyrone Power

New Grandma

Even in her advanced years, Terry Moore looks great and says she feels great, too. She still works out three times a week and attends weekly acting classes at the Actor’s Studio in L.A. to keep her acting skills sharp. In other fronts, Moore became a grandmother for the fifth time in 2015 when her son, Grant Cramer, had a baby boy. Moore’s main motivation to marry again was to have children, so clearly there is no grandmother prouder than her.

New Grandma