What causes some people to become a hermit or recluse? Could the mystery be in the history of the individual? For millionaires, it’s entirely plausible that they suspect everyone around them of showing affection for them only because of their wealth. For others without the wealthy background, it’s totally unexplained. These are empty life mysteries and we’ll explore only a couple here, but if you read anything about the others, they all seem to have some things in common.
Howard Hughes, Boy Wonder
One of the most well known of these people, is of course, Howard Robard Hughes Jr. Hughes became rich partially through the tool business left to him by his father at the tender age of 18. He then took the tool business in another direction, and built a multi-faceted empire from his own endeavors. In his early years he was an engineering genius, aeronautic innovator, aviator, visionary inventor and film producer, director and philanthropist. Hughes also carried a reputation for being a womanizer, suave, brilliant and much in demand at Hollywood parties, where he would show up with Bette Davis, Ava Gardner, Olivia de Havilland, Katherine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Gene Tierney or another lovely starlet on his arm. For a time, he was wooed and applauded by the media, shown as being a dynamic entrepreneur. He was responsible for the entire creation of one star, Jane Russell, with the help of an audacious movie known as “The Outlaw,” which contained adult situations and a very famous item of clothing, never known to the public before; the “push-up” bra.
His Decline and Fall
As Hughes grew older and more cynical, he withdrew from the public eye. When he died, the media duly reported all the details of his long, straggly hair and beard, his long uncut fingernails and his illnesses. There were few of his sparse crew of caretakers allowed in his room. So many rumors still circulate about Howard Hughes, even to this day. But at the end of his life, he never saw more than a handful of people each week. How could someone be so fabulously rich and yet have such an empty life? If you’d like to read more about the Boy Wonder, Howard Hughes, here’s a good book.
Empty Mansions of Huguette Clark
That’s also the mystery of Huguette Clark, daughter of Copper King W.A. Clark. The book “Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune”a collaboration between Paul Clark Newell Jr., Huguette’s first cousin and Pulitzer Prize Winner Bill Dedman, her life or lack thereof, is laid bare. Huguette (pronounced Oo-get in the French manner,) was one of two daughters from Clark’s 2nd marriage, to Anna Eugenia LaChapelle. At the time of her death at the age of 104, she owned three palatial mansions in New York, California and Connecticut. They were maintained spotlessly as if she would return any moment, but she lived her last 20 years in a hospital suite, where the privacy she sought was insured. Reports are that she visited once, but never spent a night, in the last mansion she bought in New Canaan, Connecticut. She lived her last 20 years in Beth Israel Medical Center, dying two weeks short of her 105th birthday. There’s more about Huguette Clark in the book below.
Other Reclusive People
A few other well-known recluses, not all rich, include: Phil Spector (The 1960s “Wall of Sound” Musical Guru,) J.D. Salinger (Author, “Catcher In The Rye,”) Edvard Munch (Artist known for “The Scream,” oil on canvas,) Harper Lee (Author, “To Kill A Mockingbird,”) Stanley Kubrick (American film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer, and editor,) Theodore Kaczynski (Unabomber, killer, terrorist,) and Nikola Tesla (inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist,) Emily Bronte, (author of “Wuthering Heights,”) Emily Dickinson, (prolific poet and author,) Greta Garbo, (famous actress,) and perhaps one of THE most famous recluses of recent years, Michael Jackson, (singer, dancer, entertainer.)
Reclusiveness isn’t relegated to the wealthy, there are other people who are socially inept, or just do not want to be around other people, for whatever reason. It’s hard for us to figure out why it’s preferable for some people to have an empty life. I suspect the mystery is in the history of the individual. Being in the spotlight during most of your life obviously isn’t all that grand. You begin to suspect people around you of catering to your whims, even if they’re bad for you, because they want the money they’re being paid for being your companion. Or you are just one of those people who begin not to like public appearances and finally refuse to do them. If you are having trouble leaving your house altogether, you may have agoraphobia, which means you have anxiety in situations you perceive to be unsafe even if there is no apparent threat. If this happens to you, please see a physician and tell him how you feel. There are things that can be done for you so that you too, do not live an empty life without loved ones.