Today is the 70th birthday of the film writer/director/producer John Hughes. He wrote and directed some if not probably all of the most important films of my childhood and teenage years. The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.
NAME: John Hughes
OCCUPATION: Director, Producer, Screenwriter
BIRTH DATE: February 18, 1950
DEATH DATE: August 6, 2009
EDUCATION: University of Arizona, Glenbrook North High School
PLACE OF BIRTH: Lansing, Michigan
PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York
REMAINS: Buried, Lake Forest Cemetery, Lake Forest, IL
BEST KNOWN FOR: Film director and screenwriter John Hughes directed a string of hit teen films, including Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink.
Director and writer John Hughes, Jr. was born on February 18, 1950, in Lansing, Michigan. Hughes graduated from Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook, Illinois, in 1968. After spending his youth in Detroit, he moved to Chicago, Illinois, with his family at the age of 13. Hughes and his family lived on the outskirts of a wealthy suburban neighborhood, which created a sense of loathing toward the rich.
In 1968, he graduated from Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook, Illinois, and moved to Tucson to attend the University of Arizona. Hughes dropped out of college his junior year, and returned to Chicago to begin his career as an ad copywriter. During this time he also attempted to write comedy, which led him to write a story inspired by his family trips as a child. The story, “Vacation ’58”, earned him a job at National Lampoon Magazine. The piece later became the basis for the film, National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983). The film became a major hit, putting Lampoon back on the map.
In 1984, Hughes made his directorial debut with the film, Sixteen Candles, starring a then-unknown Molly Ringwald. Hughes’ realistic depiction of high school life was a hit with teens, winning popular praise and critical acclaim. The film led to a multiple-picture contract with Paramount for Hughes, as well as the creation of Hughes’ own production house. Sixteen Candles became the first in a string of Hughes films set in or around high school, including The Breakfast Club (1985), Pretty in Pink (1986), Weird Science (1985), and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986).
The movies also boosted the careers of several young actors and actresses, who he used repeatedly in his films. The group — which included Ringwald as well as Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, and Ally Sheedy — earned the nickname “The Brat Pack” in a play off of the popular 1950s “Rat Pack.”
Hughes branched out in 1987 and directed Planes, Trains & Automobiles that year, with comedians Steve Martin and John Candy. In 1990, Hughes brought the movie industry yet another hit with his film, Home Alone, which jumpstarted the career of then-unknown actor Macaulay Culkin. Films such as Curly Sue (1991), 101 Dalmatians (1996), and Drillbit Taylor (2008) also resonated with audiences.
Since 1994, Hughes remained largely removed from the public sphere. He moved to Wisconsin, and avoided interviews or photographs. Hughes passed away on August 6, 2009, from a heart attack while taking a walk in New York City. He was 59 years old. He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Nancy, two sons, and four grandchildren.