Lafayette Ronald "L. Ron" Hubbard (March 13, 1911 — January 24, 1986) was an American science fiction author who developed a self-help system called Dianetics which was first published in 1950. Over the following three decades Hubbard developed his self-help ideas into a wide-ranging set of doctrines and rituals as part of a new religion he called Scientology. Hubbard's writings became the guiding texts for the Church of Scientology and a number of affiliated organizations that address such diverse topics as business administration, literacy and drug rehabilitation.
Hubbard was a controversial public figure, and many details of his life are still disputed. Official Scientology biographies present him as a "larger-than-life" figure whose career is studded with admirable accomplishments in an astonishing array of fields. Many of these claims are disputed by former Scientologists and researchers not connected with Scientology, who have written accounts that are sharply critical of Hubbard.
Lafayette Ron Hubbard was born on March 13, 1911, in Tilden, Nebraska to Ledora May Waterbury and Harry Ross Hubbard. Since Harry Hubbard was in the Navy, the family had to move as Harry was reassigned to new posts. While living on a family ranch in Kalispell, Montana, Hubbard claims to have befriended medicine man Old Tom and undergone a ceremony to become a blood brother to the Blackfeet Indians. While living on the Puget Sound in 1923, L. Ron Hubbard joined the Boy Scouts of America and became an Eagle Scout at age 13. In 1930, Hubbard was reported in the Washington Evening Star as having been the youngest Eagle Scout in the United States at the time. According to the Boy Scouts of America, their documents at the time were only kept in alphabetical order with no reference to their ages and thus there was no way of telling who was the youngest.
Between 1927 and 1929, Hubbard traveled twice to the Far East with his parents during his father's posting to the United States Navy base on Guam. While in Guam, Hubbard was befriended by Commander Joseph "Snake" Thompson (1874—1943), who had recently returned from Vienna studying with Sigmund Freud, and was stationed as a member of the Naval Medical Corps. Through the course of their friendship, the commander spent many afternoons teaching Hubbard about the human mind.
Church biographies published from the 1950s to the 1970s stated that with "the financial support of his wealthy grandfather" Hubbard journeyed throughout Asia, "studying with holy men" in northern China, India, and Tibet. Although Hubbard said on several occasions that he visited India, Jon Atack, an ex-Scientologist and prominent Scientology critic, disputes the possibility that this ever took place. Hubbard said that he was made a lama priest by Old Mayo the Beijing magician in the Western Hills of China after a year as a neophyte. According to Atack, Hubbard's diaries were used as evidence in the Armstrong trial and make no mention of Old Mayo or Eastern philosophy.
After studies at Swavely Preparatory School in Manassas, Virginia and graduating from Woodward School for Boys in 1930, Hubbard enrolled at The George Washington University where he majored in civil engineering. There he became one of eight assistant editors of the University newspaper The University Hatchet. While spending most of his time on extracurricular activities such as the university gliding club, Hubbard received extremely poor grades. University records show that after two semesters he had received an A for physical education, B for English, C for engineering, D for chemistry and Fs for German and calculus. Despite being placed on academic probation, Hubbard continued to neglect his studies, preferring to write stories for the school newspaper and literary magazine. He again earned failing grades in his second year...two Ds and an F in Calculus and Physics classes, and a B in English. Hubbard left the university after only two years and never earned a college degree.
During the Second World War, Hubbard attended a four-month course in military government at the Naval Training School, located at Princeton. Hubbard later claimed to be a nuclear physicist. One of his classes was among the country's first schools offering curriculum in molecular and atomic physics, although he failed the course. The Church denies that he ever made that claim, despite the fact that Hubbard asserted expertise in radiation exposure on the human body in the book All About Radiation (co-authored by Hubbard in 1957).
After leaving George Washington University, Hubbard worked as a writer and aviator.In June 1932 Hubbard headed the "Caribbean Motion Picture Expedition", a two-and-a-half-month, voyage aboard a chartered , four-masted schooner called the Doris Hamlin with over fifty fellow college students. Its purpose was to collect floral and reptilian specimens for the University of Michigan and to film re-creations of pirate activity and haunts. The voyage was a disappointment, with only three of the sixteen planned ports of call visited. Hubbard later called it "a two-bit expedition and a financial bust".
Hubbard was accepted as a member of The Explorers Club on February 19, 1940. In December of that year Hubbard was licensed by the United States Department of Commerce to legally operate steam and motor vessels. In 1961 Hubbard carried the Explorers Club flag for his "Ocean Archaeological Expedition" and in 1966 was awarded custody of the Explorers Club flag for the "Hubbard Geological Survey Expedition".
On February 10, 1953 Hubbard was awarded an honorary Ph.D. by Sequoia University, California, "in recognition of his outstanding work and contributions in the fields of Dianetics and Scientology." This non-accredited body was closed by the California state courts 30 years later after it was investigated by California authorities on the grounds of being a mail-order "degree mill". In 2009 The Times revealed that the British Government's Department of Health had investigated the provenance of this degree, and had concluded that Hubbard had bought Sequoia University and awarded the PhD to himself.
In 1941, Hubbard entered the navy and served a public relations role. He was able to skip the initial officer rank of Ensign and was commissioned a Lieutenant, Junior Grade for service in the Office of Naval Intelligence. He was unsuccessful there, and after some difficulty with other assignments found himself in charge of a submarine chaser.
In May 1943, while taking the USS PC-815 on her shakedown cruise to San Diego, Hubbard attacked what he believed to be two enemy submarines, ten miles (16 km) off the coast of Oregon. The battle took two days and involved at least four other US vessels plus two blimps, summoned for reinforcements and resupply. Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, Commander Northwest Sea Frontier concluded after reviewing trip data and other captains' accounts that there were no submarines in the area at the time. Hubbard and Tom Moulton, one of the ship's officers, subsequently claimed that the authorities' denials of any Japanese submarine presence off the Pacific coast had been motivated by a desire to avoid panic among the U.S. population.
In June 1943, Hubbard was relieved of command after anchoring PC-815 off the Coronado Islands, which is Mexican territory. There, he conducted unauthorised gunnery practice. An official complaint from Mexican authorities, coupled with his failure to return to base as ordered, led to a Board of Investigation. It was determined that Hubbard had disregarded orders, and he was given the punishment of a formal warning and was transferred to other duties. Since this was the third leadership position Hubbard had lost during his tenure, he was not given command authority on his next assignment. It was later reported that Hubbard had been relieved of command twice, and was the subject of negative reports from his superiors on several occasions. However, he also won some praise, being described as a "capable and energetic" officer, "if temperamental", an "above-average navigator", and as possessing "excellent personal and military character".
In 1947, Hubbard wrote to the Veterans Administration requesting psychiatric help.
Hubbard wrote many stories and novellas that were published in aviation, sports, and pulp magazines. Between 1933 and 1938, Hubbard wrote 138 novels, both science fiction and adventure. His first hardcover novel was published in 1937, titled Buckskin Brigades. He co-wrote a 15-part movie serial The Secret of Treasure Island (1938). Literature critics have cited Final Blackout, set in a war-ravaged future Europe, and Fear, a psychological horror story, as the best examples of Hubbard's pulp fiction. Among his published stories were Sea Fangs, The Carnival of Death, Man-Killers of the Air, and The Squad that Never Came Back, which he wrote under numerous pseudonyms. He became a well-known author in the science fiction and fantasy genres. He also published westerns and adventure stories. His agent at one time was the well known science fiction guru Forrest Ackerman. According to friend and colleague A.E. van Vogt, Hubbard wrote:
"...about a million words a year, straight on to the typewriter at incredible speed. My guess was that he typed at about seventy words a minute. It just poured out...I have seen typists working at that speed, but never a writer. I was in his apartment a couple of times when he said he had to finish a story and he would sit typing steadily for twenty minutes without a break and without looking up. That would have been totally impossible for me."
Unable to elicit interest from mainstream publishers or medical professionals, Hubbard turned to the science fiction editor John W. Campbell, who had for years published Hubbard's science fiction. Hubbard wrote the Ole Doc Methuselah series for Campbell's Astounding Science Fiction, and in 1949 published the first article on Dianetics in the magazine. Campbell referred to Dianetics in the preface of the article as a "scientific method" of mental therapy.
In works such as "Masters of Sleep," the story features "a mad psychiatrist, Doctor Dyhard, who persists in rejecting Dianetics after all his abler colleagues have accepted it believes in prefrontal lobotomies for everyone". Most of Hubbard's output thereafter was related to Dianetics or Scientology. During Hubbard's transition from science fiction to Dianetics, his story The Professor was a Thief was adapted and aired on the Dimension X radio show, whose writers included Ray Bradbury, Robert A. Heinlein and Kurt Vonnegut. Hubbard did not make a major return to non-Dianetics fiction until the 1980s.
Members of the science fiction community held varying opinions about Hubbard's Dianetics work. Isaac Asimov, a professor of biochemistry, criticized Dianetics' unscientific aspects, and veteran author and literature PhD Jack Williamson described Dianetics as "a lunatic revision of Freudian psychology", likening it to a scam. Campbell and novelist A. E. van Vogt, on the other hand, enthusiastically embraced Dianetics. Campbell became Hubbard's treasurer, and van Vogt...convinced his wife's health had been transformed for the better by auditing...interrupted his writing career to run the first Los Angeles Dianetics center. Joseph A. Winter M.D., who supported Hubbard, submitted papers outlining the principles and methodology of Dianetic therapy to the journal of the American Medical Association and the American Journal of Psychiatry, but they were rejected. Although Campbell was initially supportive of Dianetics, he reversed his position in 1951.
In April 1950, Hubbard and several others established the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation in Elizabeth, New Jersey to coordinate work related for the forthcoming publication of a book on Dianetics. The book, entitled The Modern Science of Mental Health, was published in May 1950 by Hermitage House, whose head was also on the Board of Directors of the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation. With Dianetics, Hubbard introduced the concept of "auditing", a two-person question-and-answer therapy that focused on painful memories, referred to as engrams. Hubbard claimed that Dianetics could cure physical illnesses and increase intelligence. In his introduction to Dianetics, Hubbard called his discoveries "a milestone for Man comparable to his discovery of fire and superior to his inventions of the wheel and the arch".
Dianetics sold 150,000 copies within a year of publication. Reviews were almost entirely hostile. In September 1950, The New York Times published a cautionary statement by the American Psychological Association which stated that the claims of Dianetics were not supported by empirical evidence, recommending against the use of the techniques described therein until they had scientific evidence to support their use. Consumer Reports, in an August 1951 assessment of Dianetics, called it "the basis for a new cult", noted its lack of modesty, and pointed out that it made generalizations without backing them up with evidence or facts.
Branch offices of the Dianetics Foundation opened in five other US cities before the end of 1950. In August of that year, amid public pressure to show evidence of the book's claims, Hubbard arranged to present a Clear (the end product of Dianetics) in the Shrine Auditorium. He presented a physics student, Sonya Bianca, who failed to answer several questions testing her memory and analytical abilities. Many of the Dianetics practices folded within a year of establishment and Hubbard abandoned the Foundation, denouncing a number of his former associates to the FBI as communists.
What led Hubbard from science fiction writing to the creation of Dianetics and Scientology is unknown. Sam Moskowitz, a science fiction editor, claimed that Hubbard made comments to 23 members of the Eastern Science Fiction Association in 1948 about starting a religion to make money. Lloyd Esbach recalls Hubbard making such a statement in 1948, made to a group of science fiction authors. According to The Visual Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Hubbard made statements to the effect that developing a religion or psychiatric method was an effective way to make money. Harlan Ellison says that Hubbard told John W. Campbell that he was going to devise a religion that would make him wealthy. After spending some time with Hubbard in 1951, Del Close claimed that Hubbard frequently complained about the American Medical Association and IRS, expressing interest in starting a religion.
In March 1952, Hubbard moved to Phoenix, Arizona. He claimed that he had conducted years of intensive research into the nature of human existence. He codified a set of ideas that promised to improve the condition of the human spirit, which he called a "Thetan". To describe his findings, he developed an elaborate system of neologisms which he described as Scientology, "an applied religious philosophy".
In December 1953, Hubbard founded the Church of Scientology in Camden, New Jersey. He moved to Washington, D.C. in 1955 and organized the Founding Church of Scientology. His Washington, D.C. residence, the L. Ron Hubbard House, now operates as a historic house museum. In 1952, Hubbard visited England for the first time and started a Dianetic training center in London; the news spread far and wide abroad. In 1959, Hubbard moved to England where he supervised the growing organization from Saint Hill Manor near the Sussex town of East Grinstead, a Georgian manor house once owned by the Maharajah of Jaipur which Hubbard purchased in 1959. This became the world headquarters of Scientology.
Hubbard's followers believed his techniques gave them access to their past lives, the traumas of which led to failures in the present unless they were dealt with in a process referred to as "auditing". By this time, in the 1950s, just after the publication of Dianetics: the modern science of mental health, Hubbard had introduced a biofeedback device to the auditing process, which he called a "Hubbard Electropsychometer" or "E-meter", originally invented in the 1940s by a chiropractor and later Dianetics enthusiast named Volney Mathison and refined to Hubbard's specifications in 1959. This machine is used by Scientologists in auditing to evaluate what Hubbard referred to as "mental masses" which were said to impede thetans from realizing their full potential. Hubbard professed that many physical diseases were psychosomatic, and that a person who had attained the enlightened state of "clear" would be relatively disease free. Hubbard insisted humanity was imperiled by such forces, which were the result of negative memories (or "engrams") stored in the unconscious or "reactive" mind, some carried by the immortal thetans for billions of years.
Church members were expected to pay fixed donation rates for courses, auditing, books and E-meters, all of which proved very lucrative for the Church, which paid emoluments directly to Hubbard and his family. In a case fought by the Founding Church of Scientology of Washington, D.C. over its tax-exempt status (revoked in 1958 because of these emoluments) it was found that Hubbard had personally received over $108,000 from the Church and affiliates over a four-year period, over and above the percentage of gross income (usually 10%) he received from Church-affiliated organizations. Hubbard denied such emoluments many times in writing, stating instead that he never received any money from the Church.
The Church of Scientology founded its own companies to publish Hubbard's works: Bridge Publications for the US and Canadian market, and New Era Publications based in Denmark for the rest of the world. New volumes of his transcribed lectures continue to be produced. There are estimated to be 110 related volumes. Hubbard also wrote a number of works of fiction during the 1930s and 1980s, which are published by the Scientology-owned Galaxy Press. All three of these publishing companies are subordinate to Author Services Inc., another Scientology corporation.
Some documents written by Hubbard himself suggest he regarded Scientology as a business, not a religion. In one letter dated April 10, 1953, he says that calling Scientology a religion solves "a problem of practical business [...] A religion charter could be necessary in Pennsylvania or NJ to make it stick." In a 1962 policy letter, he said that Scientology "is being planned on a religious organization basis throughout the world. This will not upset in any way the usual activities of any organization. It is entirely a matter for accountants and solicitors." However, in his work, Hubbard emphasizes the importance of spirit and mind over the physical body. He says, "... The body can be best studied in such books as Gray's Anatomy and other anatomical texts. This is the province of the medical doctor and, usually, the old-time psychiatrist or psychologist who were involved in the main in body worship."
Legal Difficulties and Life on the High Seasmoreless
Scientology became a focus of controversy across the English-speaking world during the mid-1960s, with the United Kingdom, New Zealand, South Africa, the Australian state of Victoria and the Canadian province of Ontario all holding public inquiries into Scientology's activities. In 1966, Hubbard moved to Rhodesia, claiming to be the reincarnation of De Beers founder, Cecil Rhodes. Following Ian Smith's Unilateral Declaration of Independence, Hubbard offered to invest large sums in Rhodesia's economy which was then hit by UN sanctions, but was asked to leave the country.
Around 1967 Hubbard formed the religious order known as the "Sea Organization" or "Sea Org", with titles and uniforms. The Sea Org subsequently became the management group within Hubbard's Scientology empire. He was attended by "Commodore's Messengers"; teenage girls who performed various tasks for him, such as fixing his shower, dressing him, and catching the ash from his cigarettes. He had frequent screaming tantrums and instituted harsh punishments such as being confined to the ship's dirty chain-locker for days or weeks at a time, or being bound, blindfolded, and thrown overboard. Some of these punishments were applied to children as well as to adults.
A letter Hubbard wrote to his third wife, Mary Sue, when he was in Las Palmas around 1967: "I’m drinking lots of rum and popping pinks and greys..." An unauthorized Hubbard biography also says that "John McMasters told me that on the flagship Apollo in the late sixties he witnessed Hubbard's drug supply. 'It was the largest drug chest I had ever seen. He had everything!'". This was confirmed by Gerry Armstrong through Virginia Downsborough who said in 1967 Hubbard returned to Las Palmas totally debilitated from drugs. His drug use appears to pre-date the 1967 accounts. Hubbard claimed in a letter to his first wife that he had once been an opium addict. The last sentence of the letter reads: "...I do love you, even if I used to be an opium addict."
In March 1969, the Greek Government branded L. Ron Hubbard and his group of 200 disciples "undesirables". The group had been living aboard the 3,300 ton Panamanian ship Apollo and had been docked in the harbor of Corfu island since August. On March 18, local authorities issued a 24-hour ultimatum to the Scientologists, but Hubbard was granted an extension due to engine problems. The expulsion order was the result of mounting pressure from American, British, and Australian diplomats to examine the activities of the Apollo occupants. Most of the occupants were American, some were British, Australian, and South African.
In 1977, Scientology offices on both coasts of the United States were raided by FBI agents seeking evidence of Operation Snow White, a programme to obtain information from government offices by covert and illegal means. Hubbard's wife Mary Sue and a dozen other senior Scientology officials were convicted in 1979 of conspiracy against the United States Federal Government, while Hubbard himself was named by federal prosecutors as an "unindicted co-conspirator." At this time the IRS also had evidence that he had skimmed millions of dollars from church accounts and secreted the funds to destinations overseas.
In 1978, as part of a case against three French Scientologists, Hubbard was convicted of making fraudulent promises and given a four-year prison sentence and a 35,000? fine by a French court. The case was subsequently appealed by one of the other convicts in 1980, during which the court indicated that all those who had been convicted could be pardoned if they filed their own appeals against the original ruling. A second defendant did in 1981, and the fraud charges were canceled by judgment on November 9, 1981 on two more except Hubbard. Hubbard himself never took any action, and the fine was never enforced.
Hubbard's refusal to speak with British immigration officials about this conviction is said to have later caused the British Home Office to re-affirm an earlier decision to bar him from the UK. In 1989 however the then Home Office Minister of State, Tim Renton, confirmed in writing that from 1980 until the date of his death, Hubbard had been free to apply for entry to the United Kingdom under the ordinary immigration rules and that any ban had been lifted on July 16, 1980. The accuracy of Hubbard's self-representations were challenged in court during a 1984 custody case of a Scientologist and his former wife about two of their children. The judgment of the High court of London (Family Division) quotes the opinion of Justice Latey, that Scientology is "dangerous, immoral, sinister and corrupt" and "has its real objective money and power for Mr. Hubbard."
According to the 1965 Report of the Board of Enquiry into Scientology in the Australian state of Victoria, Hubbard falsely claimed scientific and other credentials and his sanity was "to be gravely doubted". The report concluded that while Hubbard's followers are taught that they are entitled to question the beliefs, they are conditioned to believe that the teachings are correct. It also notes that Hubbard's claims of finding a cure for atomic radiation is unsupported by evidence. The Scientologists' response was a pamphlet entitled Kangaroo Court, describing Victoria as "the riff-raff of London's slums [...] a very primitive community, somewhat barbaric".
"Fair Game" was introduced by Hubbard as a policy against people or groups that "actively seeks to suppress or damage Scientology or a Scientologist by Suppressive Acts." He defined it as: ENEMY ... SP Order. Fair game. May be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.
In July 1968, Hubbard revised this definition to a somewhat milder wording: ENEMY ... Suppressive Person order. May not be communicated with by anyone except an Ethics Officer, Master at Arms, a Hearing Officer or a Board or Committee. May be restrained or imprisoned. May not be protected by any rules or laws of the group he sought to injure as he sought to destroy or bar fair practices for others. May not be trained or processed or admitted to any org. The use of the expression "Fair Game" was canceled altogether in October 1968, with Hubbard stating that Hubbard later explained that: While the number of incidents involving so-called dirty tricks or unethical actions dropped in the years that followed, several judges and juries have through their decisions or comments asserted that the tactics continued beyond Hubbard's order canceling use of the term Fair Game in 1968.
Hubbard claimed that when he was four years old, he became the protegé of "Old Tom", a Blackfeet Indian shaman. In 1985, Scientologists claimed that members of Blackfeet Nation, Montana, commemorated "the seventieth anniversary of [L. Ron Hubbard] becoming a blood brother of the Blackfeet Nation. Tree Manyfeathers in a ceremony re-established L. Ron Hubbard as a blood brother to the Blackfeet Tribe." Blackfeet historian Hugh Dempsey has commented that the act of blood brotherhood was "never done among the Blackfeet", and Blackfeet Nation officials have disavowed attempts to "re-establish" Hubbard as a "blood brother" of the Blackfeet. Former vice president of the tribe's executive committee, John Yellow Kidney dismissed the credibility of a letter claiming to re-establish Hubbard as a blood brother.
Publicly, Hubbard was sociable and charming. Privately, he wrote entries in his notebook like "All men are your slaves," and "You can be merciless whenever your will is crossed and you have the right to be merciless."
After a 1940 sailing trip that ended with engine trouble on his yacht, he began a three-month stay in Ketchikan, Alaska. Hubbard worked as the host of a popular maritime radio show where he was known as a "charismatic storyteller".
Hubbard was also interested in and talented at hypnosis and biographer Russell Miller mentions several incidents...including a cruel post-hypnotic 'prank' recalled by writer A.E. van Vogt...which suggest that Hubbard sometimes used his hypnotic talents capriciously on his unsuspecting subjects.
During this same period, just after World War II, Hubbard was financially destitute, and suffered from feelings of depression as well as suicidal thoughts, according to a letter he wrote in 1947 requesting assistance from Veterans Affairs.
Hubbard's first wife was Margaret "Polly" Grubb whom he married in 1933, and who bore him two children: L. Ron, Jr. (also known as Ronald DeWolf) and Katherine May (born in 1936). They lived in Los Angeles, California and, during the late 1930s and '40s, in Bremerton, Washington. In a 1983 interview for Penthouse magazine that he later retracted, DeWolf said, "according to him and my mother", he was the result of a failed abortion and recalls at six years old seeing his father performing an abortion on his mother with a coat hanger. In the same interview, he said "Scientology is a power-and-money-and-intelligence-gathering game" and described his father as "only interested in money, sex, booze, and drugs." Later, in a sworn affidavit, DeWolf stated that he had "weaved" stories about his father's harassment of others, that the charge he had made about drugs was false, and that the Penthouse story was an example of statements that he deeply regretted and that had caused his father and himself much pain. Before, in 1972, L. Ron Jr. had signed affidavits declaring the denigrating statements he had made about his father false.
After the war, in August 1945, Hubbard met Jack Parsons, a researcher at Caltech and an associate of the British Intelligence occultist Aleister Crowley. By Crowley's account, Hubbard and Parsons were engaged in the practice of ritual magick in 1946, including an extended set of sex magic rituals called the Babalon Working, intended to summon a goddess or "moonchild." At this time, Hubbard formed a partnership with Parsons and Betty, which they named "Allied Enterprises". To this, Parsons invested $20,970.80, Hubbard invested $1,183.91, and Betty, nothing. Hubbard came up with a plan to go to Miami with Betty, purchases three yachts, sail them through the Panama Canal, and sell them on the West Coast at a profit. Parsons soon realized that he had his girlfriend and most of his life savings stolen by Hubbard. After an attempt to catch up with Hubbard and following a court settlement, Parsons received only a promissory note for $2,900 from Hubbard. The Church says Hubbard was working as an ONI agent on a mission to end Parsons' supposed magical activities and to "rescue" a girl Parsons was "using" for supposedly magical purposes. Hubbard later married the girl he said that he "rescued" from Parsons, Sara Northrup. Crowley recorded in his notes that Hubbard made off with Parsons's money and girlfriend in a "confidence trick."
Sara Northrup became Hubbard's second wife in August 1946 while he was still married to Polly, something Sara did not know at the time Hubbard left his first wife and children as soon as he left the Navy, and he divorced his first wife more than a year after he had remarried. Both women allege Hubbard physically abused them. Later, he disowned Alexis, claiming he was not her father and that she was actually Jack Parsons's child. Sara filed for divorce on 23 April 1951, claiming that Hubbard was still legally bound to his first wife at the time of their marriage. She accused him in her divorce papers of kidnapping their baby daughter Alexis, as well as torturing her.
On August 1948, Hubbard was arrested and charged for petty theft in East Pasadena, California. Subsequently, he pled guilty and paid $25 fine.
In 1952, Hubbard married his third wife, Mary Sue Whipp, to whom he remained married until his death. Over the next six years, Hubbard fathered four more children: Diana, Quentin, Suzette, and Arthur. Quentin, born in 1954, was expected to one day replace his father as head of the Scientology organization. However Quentin was uninterested in his father's plans and had preferred to become a pilot. He felt guilty about his homosexuality, and committed suicide in 1976. Hubbard was prone to self-aggrandizement and exaggeration, and, in 1938, he wrote a letter to then-wife Margaret "Polly" Grubb reading, "I have high hopes of smashing my name into history so violently that it will take a legendary form, even if all the books are destroyed. That goal is the real goal as far as I am concerned." In 1984, during the Church of Scientology's lawsuit against Gerry Armstrong, Judge Paul G. Breckenridge Jr. described Hubbard as "charismatic and highly capable of motivating, organizing, controlling, manipulating and inspiring his adherents." However, the judge ruled against the Church, and in so doing said that "The evidence portrays a man who has been virtually a pathological liar when it comes to his history, background and achievements."
In 1957, Martin Gardner wrote that friends differed in their assessments of Hubbard. Some described him as honest and sincere, some called him a great con man, and to others he was basically sincere but a victim of his own psychoses.Several trusted colleagues say Hubbard was prone to emotional fits when he became upset, using insults and obscenities. Former Scientologist Adelle Hartwell once described such an outburst: "I actually saw him take his hat off one day and stomp on it and cry like a baby."
The financial windfall that came with the success of Scientology allowed Hubbard to hide this and other aspects of his personality that contrasted with the image of himself currently celebrated by Scientologists, who regard Hubbard as "mankind's greatest friend". The few who worked at his side saw personality flaws and quirks not reflected in the staged photographs or in Hubbard's church-produced biographies.
In 1976, Hubbard moved to a California ranch, and returned to writing science fiction. He wrote an unpublished screenplay called Revolt in the Stars in 1977 which dramatizes Scientology's OT III teachings. In 1982, he wrote Battlefield Earth, and later wrote the ten-volume Mission Earth. During this time, Hubbard's science fiction sold well and received mixed reviews, but some press reports suggest that sales of Hubbard's books were inflated by Scientologists purchasing large quantities of books to manipulate the bestseller charts. While claiming to be entirely divorced from the Scientology management, Hubbard continued to draw income from the Scientology enterprises; Forbes magazine estimated "at least $200 million gathered in Hubbard's name through 1982".
In early 1980, it was expected that L. Ron Hubbard would be indicted by a New York grand jury investigating Operation Freakout, the Guardian's Office's campaign against New author Paulette Cooper, or by a Floridian grand jury investigating Scientology's activities in Clearwater. Around the end of February 1980, he went into hiding and remained in seclusion in the small town of Creston, California for the remaining six years of his life. Hubbard was in such seclusion that on November 6, 1982, in a Riverside, California court, Hubbard's son, L. Ron Hubbard Jr., sued for control of his father's estate, saying that his father was either dead or incompetent. Hubbard was proved to still be alive.
In a bulletin dated May 5, 1980, Hubbard told his followers that he would be reincarnated in the future, "not as a religious leader but as a political one." He set his followers the task of preserving his teachings until his eventual return.
On January 24, 1986, Hubbard died from a stroke at his ranch in Creston, California, at age 74. He left a $600 million estate. Scientology attorneys arrived to claim his body, which they sought to have cremated immediately in accordance with his will. They were blocked by the San Luis Obispo County medical examiner, who ordered a drug toxicology test of a blood sample from Hubbard's corpse. The examination revealed a trace amount of the drug hydroxyzine (brand name Vistaril). After the blood was taken, Hubbard's remains were cremated.
The Church of Scientology announced Hubbard had deliberately discarded his body to conduct his research in spirit form, and was now living "on a planet a galaxy away." In May 1987, David Miscavige, one of Hubbard's former personal assistants, assumed the position of Chairman of the Religious Technology Center (RTC), a corporation which owns the trademarked names and symbols of "Dianetics", "Scientology", and "L. Ron Hubbard".
Hubbard turns up in a fellow pulp author's fiction as early as Anthony Boucher's 1942 murder mystery Rocket to the Morgue, which features cameos by members and friends of the "Mañana Literary Society of Southern California", in which Hubbard makes a dual appearance as D. Vance Wimpole and Rene Lafayette (a pen name of Hubbard).
Del Close, who apparently knew Hubbard personally through his involvement in science fiction fandom, fictionalized an encounter between them in an autobiographical story in the comic book Wasteland. The story showed Hubbard hypnotizing Close in order to probe the latter's subconscious memories in a similar manner to that of the subjects whose past life recollections appear in Hubbard's Have You Lived Before This Life.
Hubbard appears in the story "In the Air" contained within the collection Back in the USSA by Eugene Byrne and Kim Newman.
Director Paul Thomas Anderson is planning a film based on Hubbard called The Master. Philip Seymour Hoffman has been cast to play the leader of, "a faith-based organization that becomes popular in 1952 America ... exactly the year L. Rob Hubbard expanded his Dianetics self-help system and established the Church of Scientology." Reese Witherspoon and Jeremy Renner have reportedly also been approached to appear.
Hubbard was awarded the 1994 Ig Nobel Prize in Literature (a mock award parodying the Nobel prize) for Dianetics.
In 2006, Guinness World Records declared Hubbard the world's most published and most translated author, having published 1,084 fiction and non-fiction works that have been translated into 71 languages.