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Howard Hughes' assistant - was he a racing driver?


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#1 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 29 April 2006 - 16:52

Watching the extra features on the DVD of THE AVIATOR I noticed that Howard Hughes right hand man, Noah Dietrich, is mentioned as "a former race car driver" who became an accountant. Eventually he landed the plum job as Hughes' business manager while the movie HELLS ANGELS was taking up all of Howard's time and continued to run things and turn Hughes into a billionaire, untill sometime in the 1960s I think.

Does anyone know what racing Noah Dietrich did?

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#2 mark f1

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Posted 29 April 2006 - 20:45

Not much on the web that I could find about it..

After earning his certification, he served as comptroller for H. L. Arnold, which distributed three lines of automobiles in three different states, for five years. The position offered a Ford dealership in Phoenix and this tempted Noah, as automobiles had always fascinated him: In the early 1920s he had held the driving-speed record from Los Angeles to Oakland. Noah didn't take that opportunity, however, after fate stepped in and introduced the 36-year-old Noah to the then 19-year-old Howard Hughes.

Source
http://www.noahdietrich.com/bio.html

Mark

#3 RTH

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 06:08

There was an earlier excellent film about Howard Hughes life, around 20 years ago with Hughes played I think by Tommy Lee Jones .In that much was made about Noah Dietrich importance, he came with the Hughes Tool Company that HH inherited from his father, tempered some of Hughes wilder ideas and put much of Hughes vision in to reality, was a huge figure in the background of the success of the various Hughes enterprises.

#4 Gerr

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 06:34

The film was based on Dietrich's 1972(ish) autobio/memoirs, "The Amazing Howard Hughes" written with Bob Thomas. There may be info about his racing in the book. I read it a long while back and can't recall. I do recall it being a very entertaining read and would recommend it.

I agree with you RTH, the Tommy Lee Jones TV "Movie of the Week" was/is an excellent film.

#5 RTH

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 10:23

Ah,...that was it Gerr, do you know the exact title of the film so that I can look it up ?

It was a most interesting film , very long as I remember full of detail and superbly made. I would very much like to see it again.

#6 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 12:50

I remember the Tommy Lee Jones film/mini-series too and it was, as you say, fascinating.
I think Dietrich was dropped very abruptly by Hughes when he was in the early part of his famous recluse-stage and wonder if the book overplays Noah's role in an effort to make up for shabby treatment. I guess we shall never know. He must have been damn good at his job however!

As for the racing background, maybe he was just a local durt track racer. There must have been so much of that kind of racing which went largely unrecorded in any kind of publications that have survived.

Simon Lewis

#7 WGD706

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 13:18

Originally posted by RTH
Ah,...that was it Gerr, do you know the exact title of the film so that I can look it up ?

It was a most interesting film , very long as I remember full of detail and superbly made. I would very much like to see it again.

The Amazing Howard Hughes
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075670/

#8 RTH

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 16:18

Thanks for that........wow! - it was 30 years ago ....released in 1977 a great film and 3 hours 35 minutes long ! Vastly better than the Aviator I think. .......Time they re-showed it on TV.

The American film industry often does a very good job on true life stories and biographies.

#9 MCS

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 21:07

Originally posted by RTH
Thanks for that........wow! - it was 30 years ago ....released in 1977 a great film and 3 hours 35 minutes long !


It certainly was a great film - so much so that we formed a Howard Hughes Appreciation Society at college!

I'd love to see the film again.

#10 eldougo

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Posted 01 May 2006 - 09:33

Originally posted by MCS



I'd love to see the film again.


I just love to see it anytime........................ :up:

#11 jcbc3

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Posted 01 May 2006 - 09:40

And, I notice, Ned Flanders playing Dietrich.

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#12 RTH

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Posted 01 May 2006 - 09:52

It's available here on DVD from Amazon but only in region 1 format ....for the USA about a fiver for 3 1/2 hrs great value

http://www.amazon.co...6922086-2224645

#13 f1steveuk

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Posted 02 May 2006 - 11:16

I had the pleasure of meeting Noah when I was working as a researcher on a programme about Hughes. He never ever once mentioned a racing background, and he was very aware I was a racing nut, as I kept stopping to look at cars!!! But he never said a word about it to me.

He did tell me that in his later years working for Hughes, he used to have to walk down a dark alley to a under a third story window at Hughes' office. The window would open, and a tin can lowered on string would have a piece of paper in it, with Noah's instructions on it. If he agreed, he ticked the box, and wait, then the can would re-appear with a roll of cash in it!!! Better still was the ice cream story, but it's a long one!

#14 McGuire

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Posted 02 May 2006 - 11:34

Howard Hughes' man with the racing connection was Joe Petrali. He was the flight engineer on the only flight of the Spruce Goose, among other things.

#15 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 02 May 2006 - 11:49

Originally posted by McGuire
Howard Hughes' man with the racing connection was Joe Petrali. He was the flight engineer on the only flight of the Spruce Goose, among other things.


and Frank Dochnal, who worked for Howard Hughes in later years, who has already been discussed at great level here, was a racing driver too.

#16 ian senior

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Posted 02 May 2006 - 11:58

Originally posted by MCS


It certainly was a great film - so much so that we formed a Howard Hughes Appreciation Society at college!


This conjures up images of you and your mates with 12-inch long fingernails and walking about on toilet paper.

#17 Nanni Dietrich

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Posted 02 May 2006 - 14:30

uuhh I'm N. Dietrich but I'm NOT Noah Dietrich.
:wave:

:p

#18 f1steveuk

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Posted 14 May 2006 - 17:58

Originally posted by McGuire
Howard Hughes' man with the racing connection was Joe Petrali. He was the flight engineer on the only flight of the Spruce Goose, among other things.


SPRUCE GOOSE !!!! Hughes HK1 Hercules, please!!!! The sound guy called it the S G in front of Noah, and his violent reaction was apparently nothing to what Hughes' would have been!!