Many people have said that the take-home
message of the movie, "The Hoax," is:
"Clifford Irving forced the resignation
of President Richard Nixon and brought
down a corrupt White House." I want to thank
Woodward and Bernstein for helping me in
that mission. Now I'm working on a plan to do
the same for the current administration. I've
also offered George W. Bush the chance to have
me write his authorized biography. He's thinking
about it, as best he can.
I was hired by the producers as technical
adviser to the movie, but after reading the
final script I asked that my name be removed
from the movie credits. I didn't want anyone
to believe that I had contributed to such a
historically cockeyed story where the main
character, almost by coincidence, happens
to bear my name. It's hard to believe that
sophisticated Manhattan publishers would
fall for the nonsense this guy spouts in order
to convince them that the moon is made of
As played by Richard Gere – an actor I admire –
Movie Clifford is desperate and humorless,
a washed-up hack writer who lives in a
conservative New York suburb. In fact I had
a multi-book contract with my publisher and
enjoyed the good life on Ibiza, a sunny Mediterranean island where I owned a beautiful fifteen-room farmhouse. Movie Clifford has the energy of a not-too-bright psychopath. If I were that man, I'd shoot myself.
The movie misses the point that the Howard Hughes hoax was a live-action adventure story concocted by two middle-aged hippie expat writers and a Swiss heiress. Edith, my then-wife, a woman of great zest, is portrayed as a dull hausfrau; and Nina van Pallandt, my Danish mistress, as barely one level above a New York hotel hooker. Dick Suskind, witty friend and co-conspirator, is offered to the public as a self-righteous, sweaty buffoon. The scenes that deal with Movie Clifford feuding with Movie Dick, getting him drunk and hiring a bargirl to seduce him, are totally fictional. The Hughes people mailing the package of files to me is also made up.
Oh, yes – another friend said, "The movie made me want to read your Autobiography of Howard Hughes." And she did. And she loved it.
I also recommend reading the Hyperion paperback edition of my book, "The Hoax," available in airports and book stores. You'll quickly grasp that it's a true story, and, if the author is allowed to say so, a thrilling tale. The movie is best thought of as a hoax.