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People Top 5
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PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- May 17, 1976
- Vol. 5
- No. 19
A Howard Hughes Heir? Melvin Dummar Tries to Convince Himself—and Others—that His Good Fortune Is Real
In support of his claim to the money, Dummar recounts an incident in 1968. While driving from his home in Gabbs, Nev. to Las Vegas, he says, he had pulled off the road to relieve himself and spotted a bleeding, bedraggled old man. "I helped him into my car," Dummar recounts, "and on the way to Las Vegas he kept telling me he was Howard Hughes, but I thought he was an old wino. He kept asking me how I was fixed for money, so I thought he needed some. I gave him a quarter."
Dummar, one of 10 children, is the son of a now-retired government worker who lived in Long Beach, Calif. Dummar attended Long Beach City College, dropped out of school to get married and served two years as an Air Force medical corpsman. Later he drove a milk truck in California, then worked for a mining operation in Gabbs. Divorced, he now lives with his second wife, Bonnie, and four of their five children. He recently resumed his studies at Weber State College in Utah and hopes to become a lawyer. Initially jubilant about his purported inheritance, he later began entertaining misgivings. "Sometimes you dream of something like this happening to you," he told Salt Lake City reporter Clark Lobb. "But in the dreams everything turns out all right. Now I just don't know. I guess I'm the poorest rich man in the world. I can't believe I'm going to get the money."
Officials of Hughes's Summa Corp., meanwhile, are vigorously investigating both the will and Dummar. "It would have been easy to write this kind of will based on news accounts that have appeared recently," observes one source who is knowledgable about Hughes's movements. "I think Summa can prove that Hughes never left his hotel in 1968 without his aides." Stung when information was released that he had been charged with forging a payroll check in 1968, Dummar now says, "I realize people are going to dig up everything about me from the time I was born. But I am only human. That's all I can say. I was innocent. I was not convicted."
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