June 22, 2005

Hughes to Hepburn Letters to Be Auctioned

DALLAS - Twenty-two telegrams that Howard Hughes sent to Katharine Hepburn during their brief romance in the late 1930s are going on the auction block.

Dallas-based Heritage-Slater Americana is holding the auction of items associated with the reclusive billionaire, whose life of designing and flying planes and producing movies was dramatized in 2004's "The Aviator," directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Hughes.

The auction was to begin Wednesday evening and end Thursday. Included is a telegram that Hughes sent to Hepburn on Jan. 19, 1937 — the day he set a new air record, flying from Burbank, Calif., to Newark, N.J., in seven hours, 28 minutes and 25 seconds.

The flight was over, and Hughes apparently was running behind schedule to meet Hepburn at Chicago's Ambassador Hotel before she performed in a play.

"Supposed to arrive six something in the afternoon," the Western Union telegram reads. "Probably not in time to see you before the theater so will try to contain myself until eleven thirty, love Dan."

Dan was short for Dynamite, one of several nicknames the two shared, said Michael Riley of Heritage-Slater Americana, a subsidiary of Heritage Galleries.

Riley said the owner of the documents, which include two 1939 handwritten draft telegrams by Hepburn, isn't being identified.

Other items on the auction block include a brown hat with the initials "HRH" that was expected to fetch at least $40,000, Riley said.

"He had so much money, he had so much power," said Riley. "He truly was a legendary aviator. He did incredible things in terms of flying. He led the kind of life a lot of people would like to live."

Hughes died in Houston on April 5, 1976. He was 72 years old.

Italian Town Salutes Sophia Loren

POZZUOLI, Italy - Sophia Loren received the honorary citizenship of her hometown in southern Italy on Wednesday. The film legend broke into tears as she was feted in a ceremony by the local community.

Crowds of locals and photographers greeted Loren, 70, as she arrived for the ceremony in Pozzuoli, just outside Naples.

Dressed in an elegant all-white outfit with a scarf, Loren was presented with a blue band representing honorary citizenship of the seaside town.

"Thank you, thank you, I don't know if I deserve it," the ANSA news agency quoted her as saying.

Loren grew up in the town, visiting its single theater regularly to catch Hollywood movies. During World War II Loren's family were forced to flee to nearby Naples, returning to Pozzuoli when the conflict finished.

Today she lives between Switzerland and the United States.

Antonio Bassolino, governor of the region around Naples, compared Loren to other film divas Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich and Marilyn Monroe, but said that Loren had kept her feet on the ground because she had grown up with "strong values."

"She's Neapolitan, she's never given up her family and her contact with daily life," ANSA quoted him as saying.

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