Volume 31, Issue 1 (January 1986)
Howard Hughes and Melvin Dummar: Forensic Science Fact Versus Film Fiction
Publicity about the death of Howard Hughes and the search for his will stimulated the imaginations of many forgers. A purported will naming Melvin Dummar, a service station operator whose previous fame involved multiple appearances on game shows, became the feature attraction in forensic science as well as film presentations of the willful or unwillful ways of Howard Hughes. An award winning film depiction of Melvin Dummar's purported Good Samaritan association with Hughes and Melvin's loss of Cinderella status as a beneficiary of the so-called Mormon Will suggested strongly that Hughes had drafted a handwritten will and that Melvin was the victim of establishment bias. In this article, the forensic science record of a seven-month trial involving multiple, adaptive versions of Melvin Dummar's story and abundant proof of forgery is contrasted with the fanciful and sympathetic film portrayal of Melvin Dummar as a victim of a suppressive society.