Claimed Howard Hughes Heir Melvin Dummar Dead at 74, Nevadan Supposedly Rescued Billionaire in 1967

Posted on: December 11, 2018, 06:10h. 

Last updated on: December 11, 2018, 06:10h.

An alleged heir to Howard Hughes is dead at the age of 74. Melvin Dummar, who claims to have saved the billionaire’s life in 1967 and was the beneficiary of a handwritten will that left him $156 million, died at his home in Pahrump, Nevada.

Howard Hughes Melvin Dummar death
Howard Hughes (left) might have died years before his 1976 death if it hadn’t been for Melvin Dummar rescuing him from the side of a Nevada road in 1967. (Image: Patrick Breen/Desert News Archives/

On a cold and chilly night, Dummar claims to have pulled off along the road on Highway 95 some 150 miles northwest of Las Vegas to relieve himself. He found a tall, thin man lying facedown in the dirt.

The man asked Dummar to drive him to the Sands Hotel, which Hughes owned at the time. Dummar obliged, and Hughes identified himself towards the end of their trip.

Following Hughes’ death nine years later, a so-called “Mormon Will” was found inside a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah. The handwritten document named various beneficiaries for Hughes’ $1.56 billion estate, with Dummar endowed $156 million.

In 2017, named Hughes as one of the eight most important individuals responsible for shaping Las Vegas. His tenure in Sin City began when he rented the Desert Inn’s entire top two floors on Thanksgiving in 1966. After being asked to leave after his initial 10-day reservation to accommodate other bookings, Hughes refused and instead entered into negotiations to buy the entire casino resort.

Hughes’ impact on Las Vegas is best known for his purchasing of 25,000 acres of undeveloped land that today is known as Summerlin. The Howard Hughes Corporation maintains ownership of the master-planned community.

Dummar Ridicule

Following the emergence of the “Mormon Will,” Dummar became the target of late-night jokes. He told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2006 that the ridicule “almost killed me. It even drove me to the verge of suicide a couple of times.”

Courts continually ruled against Dummar on grounds that the will was a forgery. Dummar’s brother said the topic wasn’t something that was routinely discussed within the family.

He picked him up. I know that part happened,” Ray Dummar declared. “From then on, it was kind of a fight.”

Dummar never saw a dime of Hughes’ $1.56 billion estate, which in today’s dollars is equivalent to $6.57 billion.

Hughes Las Vegas Vision

Hughes’ entire estate was split in 1983 among 22 cousins. Hughes wasn’t married at the time and had no children.

The billionaire had a fond liking for Las Vegas, and was purchasing interests in minefields near where Dummar picked him up in the 1970s. Hughes was also known to frequent a brothel near where Dummar says to have located the distressed businessman.

An aviator, film producer, inventor, and habitual businessman, Hughes wanted Las Vegas to be a more luxurious destination than it perhaps was in the 1970s.

“I like to think of Las Vegas in terms of a well-dressed man in a dinner jacket and a beautifully jeweled and furred female getting out of an expensive car,” Hughes once said.