John Hughes, director of such iconic 80s and 90s films as Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, She’s Having a Baby, Uncle Buck and Curly Sue and the writer of many more such as National Lampoon’s Vacation, Mr. Mom, Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful, Home Alone and Career Opportunities, passed away of a heart attack yesterday in New York at the age of 58.
Born in Lansing, Michigan on February 18, 1950, Hughes grew up in Northbrook, Illinois, where many of his films would take place (the city was originally named “Shermerville”, hence the “Shermer, Illinois” name in the movies). He married his high school sweetheart in 1970 and remained with her throughout his life. He began his professional life working for Chicago ad agencies, where he created the famous “foam vs. Edge” credit card commercials.
I’m not going to write a long post about how he was the “voice of a generation”… in fact, I’m not sure I really even know what that phrase means. All I know is that Hughes made me laugh, cry and think about my life. His movies were the first to portray “my” generation in a somewhat realistic manner. And when I saw his characters on the screen, I identified with them. These weren’t movies for my mom, my younger and hipper uncle, or even the babysitter… there were movies for me. And for that, I’m thankful we had John Hughes, if only for a short while.
Here are a couple of neat Hughes-related things:
Here’s the complete text of “Vacation ’58”, Hughes’ “allegedly fictional” short story that inspired the Vacation film. It’s a short (but hilarious) read… you oughta check it out!
And here’s a blog entry by a woman who was “pen pals” with Hughes. It seems that she wrote Hughes a long letter, pouring her heart out to him after she saw The Breakfast Club. Hughes sent her a form letter in return, which made the woman so mad that she sent him another long letter, this time an angry one. Hughes actually wrote her back personally this time, and the two exchanged several letters over the years. Reading her post is sad… not only because of Hughes’ death, but because she quotes a few paragraphs from her letters about why he largely turned his back on Hollywood. It’s a sad and poignant post, and if you were a Highes fan at all, you should really read it.