John Hughes, the visionary director who crafted the films that defined a generation and stand as some of the best movies of the 1980s, has died of a heart attack at the age of 59, while taking a morning walk in Manhattan. According to his publicist, he was in New York visiting family.
He wrote and directed The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Planes Trains & Automobiles, Sixteen Candles, Weird Science and Uncle Buck. He also wrote the screenplays for Career Opportunities, Mr. Mom, Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful and Home Alone.
Hughes is survived by his wife Nancy, to whom he was married for almost 40 years, their two sons and four grandchildren.
Hughes began his career in advertising, which he said was “fairly simple work, and I really just wanted a job where I could sit and write every day and not get fired for it like I had at other jobs, but it was fun.”
With movies like ‘Sixteen Candles’ and ‘Pretty in Pink,” he gave the teen movie a fresh twist – as he intended. “At the time I came along, Hollywood’s idea of teen movies meant there had to be a lot of nudity, usually involving boys in pursuit of sex, and pretty gross overall,” he said. “Either that or a horror movie. And the last thing Hollywood wanted in their teen movies was teenagers!”
Hughes wrote from the heart and about what he knew, in a sense, himself. “I always preferred to hang out with the outcasts, ’cause they were cooler,” he said. “They had better taste in music, for one thing, I guess because they had more time to develop one with the lack of social interaction they had!”
Hughes cared enough about the people he was writing for to even become a penpal to one of his fans, Alison Fields, who wrote about her experience corresponding with him over the years, and her devastation at the news of his death. He told her that he left Hollywood out of fear of what effect that place would have on his sons and their perception of what happiness means, and that the major impetus for the decision was the lost of his good friend and Planes, Trains & Automobiles star John Candy, which he blamed on the man being greedily worked to death. He and his work also encouraged her to get through her troubled adolescence, and her devotion to him inspired him to make creative decisions with her in mind – the representative of the real people who are touched and moved by his films – the real-life members of The Breakfast Club.
Don’t you forget about him. We never will.