Linda Darnell was very close friends with Ann Miller.
'After San Francisco, Howard (Hughes) wooed Linda with a vengeance', Ann Miller said,'in spite of my warnings, that he would use her and then drop her. I also warned her about other women. I knew Lana in those days too'. She was referring, of course, to Lana Turner at MGM. 'Lana told me that she was going to become the next Mrs.Howard Hughes. I also knew Gene Tierney, who, in spite of Oleg Cassini, was also considering walking down the aisle with Hughes. Even Paulette Goddard hoped that she might marry Howard, that he'd jump-start her career the way Chaplin had done.'
Linda Darnell convinced herself that she and Hughes would marry, and her heart become set on it, even though Hughes began backing off. Hughes couldn't bring himself to confront Linda. Instead, he made a dinner date with Linda's close friend, MGM dancing star Ann Miller, and asked her to tell Linda there would be no wedding.
'He was very peculiar and would kind of halfway propose to these girls. And he could be very, very convincing, leading them to believe that a wedding was just on the horizon. It could be very sad', Miller recalled. 'When i told Linda what Howard said, and about all the other girls he had on the string, she was badly hurt.'
Actually, Hughes had called Ann Miller, shortly before his crash, telling her he had a problem with Linda. He didn't want to hurt her, he explained to Ann over dinner, but neither was he planning marriage. 'I think the world of Linda', he said. 'I know that she's becoming very serious and really thinks i'm going to marry her. I haven't encouraged her in this at all because i don't want to get married'. He also mentioned to Ann that Pev Marley (Darnell's estranged husband)had asked for a substantial sum of money before he would agree to let Linda go. 'I'm not going to let any man do that to me', said Hughes. 'It has sort of turned me off.'
Ann talked to Linda the next day, attempting to soften the blow, but Linda took it very bad.
(Extracts from the books 'Howard Hughes:The Untold Story', 'Hollywood Beauty:Linda Darnell and the American Dream', 'Howard Hughes:Hell's Angel'