New book reveals secret life of Howard Hughes

Douglas Wellman’s new book “Boxes: The Secret Life of Howard Hughes” has been released and is available at major online book retailers.

The book tells the tale of Hughe’s secret life under the assumed identity of Verner “Nik” Nicely, from the point of view of his wife, Eva McLelland. Her discovery that her eccentric Midwestern husband was really the great Howard Hughes was difficult, to say the least, and sent her on a path she had never expected to take.

“Eva’s story was hard to understand and even harder to accept. Without knowing where it would lead, a colleague of mine began to research her story and her husband’s previous identity. Piece by piece, Eva’s tale checked out, strange as it was. The book finally makes sense of the numerous inconsistencies in the Hughes legend,” said Wellman.

Wellman began his career as a television writer, producer, and director, working on such shows as “The Facts of Life”. He has more than 1,000 comedy credits, 20 of which were comedy specials for Showtime, as well as hundreds of credits for episodes of talk and magazine format shows. He has received a regional Emmy Award and a CableAce Award. He is currently the assistant dean of the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California and is a consultant to the Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts in Aqaba, Jordan.

The book is published by WriteLife LLC, a collaborative publishing company based in Omaha, Nebraska. For more information:


  1. Yagott2bekiddinme2023 says

    I don’t like to eat crow, mom cooked one once and when you threw it on the floor, it bounced, but I am going to do it. Facts are facts and I will have to bow to them. I have always said that DNA doesn’t lie and I have been given some proof from an investigator that is hard to explain away. I can’t tell you all the proof because some of it is in process of being verified but at this point I will tell you that I 95% believe that Paul is probably right!  Here’s what I have been given.
    1. A DNA profile from blood stains on a VA watermarked sheet from Nik Nicely’s bathroom.
    2. Pictures of Verner’s military records showing his family, his mental record and his military job. a. 2 chilren (Paul and Gary), one wife Anna, b. Went awol in San Francisco, divorced and discharges as mentally disabled.  c, His job was aircraft engineer.
    3.  Correspondence between Verner and his Nicely family during the time that he was in Alabama and supposed to be Howard, and using the very same addresses.
    4. An eye witness from Verner’s past that “Nik” was really Verner.
    5. A box from Nicely relatives to Nik in Alabama (an address that his supposed assumed family were not supposed to know).
    6. The investigator has revealed to me even more damming evidence of a confidential nature that is to be shortly released. So as you see, taken together they almost amount to a smoking gun or at least a smoking USPS box with dates, addresses and names.

     PUBLIC APOLOGY: To Mr. Paul Winn. Not for the truth of the statements made as to his past actions but for deciding on the basis of those facts that Paul was wrong on this situation. I fell for the old prejudicial notion that means that ex cons aren’t believed in a court of law. True Mr. Winn had made mistakes in his previous postings but in this one he seems to have been on the mark and for assuming that he was wrong again, I apologize!!!! Mr. Winn needs to understand that I was never meant to be intentionally cruel to him, but he always seemed to not give out any information until he was angry, so at times I tried to get him angry so as to test out the depth of his convictions. We all subconsciously reveal things when we are angry that we keep covered at all other times.

    Apology Number Two: For that we apologize too!  It is a disliked and distasteful tool but as with hostile witnesses on the stand, it is one that sometimes must be used to test for veracity!  Now Mr. Winn, we don’t expect forgiveness but at least please understand that things were presented to you as “theory” to test you!  I do beleive you should have someone take digital pictures of all the files, documents and other items that you still retain in relation to Howard.  I do understand you are probably bound by a confidentiality agreement from the Lummis group. But have you ever considered having those pictures taken, stored in several places to be released when you are no longer here?  They may well contain material of which none of us totally understands the significance.
    Thank you

  2. John Doe says

    Mr. Winn’s assertion are pretty strident, but his always are.

    I caution people to be careful when viewing Mr. Winns statements as fact due to his changing his stories. He insisted he hadn’t been in the Romaine building for several years (during which the files he was in charge of got stolen) and then in other posts, claimed to have worked there continuously during the same time period. Obviously Mr. Winn’s story changes to fit the present conditions on the ground.

    As to the FBI identification of the body in Houston, I have requested reports and extant tissue samples to be tested from that autopsy, and strangely they have all disappeared! Also, a person (I think a national newspaperman) had earlier requested the FBI to use their fingerprint records to identify a set of fingerprints as to if they belonged to Howard Hughes. The official FBI record says that it was impossible to positively identify Mr. Howard Robard Hughes from the prints in their files. However, a very short time later, the Lummis faction (with considerable political umph!) asked for a set to be compared to those self same records and wala!!! The FBI gave a POSITIVE identification. It certainly seems to me that the FBI engaged in a shuck an jive one time or the other, now don’t it! My opinion was that the government favored having the Lummins’ inherit and ruled accordingly.

    Mr Winn and a number of his cohorts started a Hughes office in Encino without the knowledge of many of the Hughes officials and nothing was listed about who or what occupied the building (sounds like a CIA cutout to deal with a second Howard without anyone at Romaine being the wiser!) I think the CIA had WAY to much to say about the record left behind by Howard and the disposition of his assets and that Mr. Barrack Obama should release those records held by the CIA and the FBI that are noted Secret and above. That is the only way the truth will be know other than the DNA project by this person;

  3. Paul B. Winn says

    I was one of Hughes’ personal secretaries beginning in 1957 and I became a senior officer of Hughes’ companies when I retired in 1989, thirteen years after his death. You will find my name in several books relating to Hughes. The story told above is, indeed, unbelievable. I call it “Clifford Irving’s HOAX on steroids.” I cannot imagine a more preposterous premise, and, knowing the real facts, having worked for the real Howard Hughes, I am outraged and incensed that these hucksters are putting out this book as fact. The authors (Wellman and Musick) did not interview one person who actually had live interaction with Hughes, and there are quite a few of us still alive. They have merely repeated dubious material from previous publications and built a fairy tale which they pass of as “fact”. I challenge Wellman to interview me and he will learn that there was no one substituted for Howard Hughes. The autopsy report and fingerprints at his death confirmed that the body was THE one and oly Howard Hughes. Paul B. Winn Las Vegas, Nevada

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