John Hughes
Hughes at the premiere of Home Alone 2: Lost in New York in 1992
Born
John Wilden Hughes Jr.

(1950-02-18)February 18, 1950
DiedAugust 6, 2009(2009-08-06) (aged 59)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Resting placeLake Forest Cemetery
Other namesEdmond Dantès
Occupations
  • Director
  • producer
  • writer
Years active1970–2009
Employer(s)Hughes Entertainment (1987–2002) and others
Spouse
Nancy Ludwig
(m. 1970)
[1]
Children2[1]

John Wilden Hughes Jr.[2] (February 18, 1950 – August 6, 2009) was an American film director, producer and screenwriter. He began his career in 1970 as an author of humorous essays and stories for the National Lampoon magazine. He went on in Hollywood to write, produce and sometimes direct some of the most successful live-action comedy films of the 1980s and 1990s. He directed such films as Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, She's Having a Baby, and Uncle Buck; and wrote the films National Lampoon's Vacation, Mr. Mom, Pretty in Pink, The Great Outdoors, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, Dutch, and Beethoven.

Most of Hughes' works were set in Chicago. He is best known for his coming-of-age teen comedy films with honest depictions of suburban teenage life. Many of his most enduring characters from these years were written for Molly Ringwald.[3] While out on a walk one morning in New York City in the summer of 2009, Hughes suffered a fatal heart attack.[1] His legacy after his death was honored by many, including at the 82nd Academy Awards by many actors he had worked with such as Ringwald, Matthew Broderick, Anthony Michael Hall, Chevy Chase, and Macaulay Culkin, among others.[4][5] Actors whose careers Hughes helped launch include Michael Keaton, Hall, Bill Paxton, Broderick, Culkin, and members of the Brat Pack group.

Early life and education

Hughes was born on February 18, 1950, in Lansing, Michigan, to Marion Crawford, who volunteered in charity work, and John Hughes Sr., who worked in sales.[6] He was the only boy, and had three sisters. He spent the first twelve years of his life in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, where he was a fan of Detroit Red Wings right winger Gordie Howe.[1] One of Howe's #9 jerseys, sent by Howe himself,[7] was later prominently featured in Hughes's 1986 film Ferris Bueller's Day Off.[8] Hughes described himself as "kind of quiet" as a kid.[9]

I grew up in a neighborhood that was mostly girls and old people. There weren't any boys my age, so I spent a lot of time by myself, imagining things. And every time we would get established somewhere, we would move. Life just started to get good in seventh grade, and then we moved to Chicago. I ended up in a really big high school, and I didn't know anybody. But then The Beatles came along (and) changed my whole life. And then Bob Dylan's Bringing It All Back Home came out and really changed me. Thursday I was one person, and Friday I was another. My heroes were Dylan, John Lennon and Picasso, because they each moved their particular medium forward, and when they got to the point where they were comfortable, they always moved on.

Hughes as a junior at Glenbrook North High School (1967)

In 1963, Hughes's family moved to Northbrook, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. There, his father found work selling roofing materials.[1] Hughes attended Grove Middle School, later going on to Glenbrook North High School, which gave him inspiration for the films that eventually made his reputation.[10] He met Nancy Ludwig, a cheerleader and his future wife, in high school.[11] As a teenager, Hughes turned to movies as an escape. According to childhood friend Jackson Peterson, "His mom and dad criticized him a lot (...) She [Marion] would be critical of what John would want to do".[12] Hughes was an avid fan of the Beatles,[1] and according to several friends, he knew a lot about movies and the Rat Pack.[13]

Career

1970–1981: Rise to prominence

After dropping out of the University of Arizona,[14] Hughes began selling jokes to well-established performers such as Rodney Dangerfield and Joan Rivers.[15] Hughes used his jokes to get an entry-level job at Needham, Harper & Steers as an advertising copywriter in Chicago in 1970[16] and later in 1974 at Leo Burnett Worldwide. During this period, he created what became the famous Edge "Credit Card Shaving Test" ad campaign.

Hughes's work on the Virginia Slims account frequently took him to the Philip Morris headquarters in New York City, which allowed him to visit the offices of National Lampoon magazine.[1] Soon thereafter, Hughes became a regular contributor;[17] editor P. J. O'Rourke recalled that "John wrote so fast and so well that it was hard for a monthly magazine to keep up with him."[18] One of Hughes's first stories, inspired by his family trips as a child,[15] was "Vacation '58",[19] later to become the basis for the film National Lampoon's Vacation.[17] Among his other contributions to the Lampoon, the April Fools' Day stories "My Penis" and "My Vagina" gave an early indication of Hughes's ear for the particular rhythm of teenspeak, as well as for the various indignities of teenage life in general.

1982–1986: Breakthrough and teen films

His first credited screenplay, National Lampoon's Class Reunion, was written while he was still on staff at the magazine. The resulting film became the second disastrous attempt by the flagship to duplicate the runaway success of National Lampoon's Animal House. Hughes's next screenplay for the imprint, however, National Lampoon's Vacation,[17] would become a major hit in 1983. This, along with the success of another Hughes script that same year, Mr. Mom, earned him a three-film deal with Universal Pictures.[20]

Hughes's directorial debut, Sixteen Candles (1984), won almost unanimous praise when it was released in 1984, due in no small part to its more honest depiction of navigating adolescence and the social dynamics of high school life in stark contrast to the Porky's-inspired comedies made at the time. It was the first in a string of efforts about teenage life set in or around high school, including The Breakfast Club (1985), Weird Science (1985), and Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986), all of which he wrote and directed, and Pretty in Pink (1986) and Some Kind of Wonderful (1987), which he wrote and produced.

1987–2008: Beyond teen movies

To avoid being pigeonholed as a maker of only teen movies, Hughes branched out in 1987 by writing, directing, and producing the hit comedy Planes, Trains and Automobiles starring Steve Martin and John Candy. His later output was not so well received critically, though films like Uncle Buck and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation proved popular. His final film as a director was 1991's Curly Sue. By that time, in 1991, his John Hughes Entertainment production company had signed various deals with 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros.[21]

Actor John Candy created many memorable roles in films written, directed or produced by Hughes, including National Lampoon's Vacation (1983), Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987), The Great Outdoors (1988), Uncle Buck (1989), Home Alone (1990), Career Opportunities and Only the Lonely (both 1991). Over the years, Hughes and Candy developed a close friendship. Hughes was greatly shaken by Candy's sudden death from a heart attack in 1994. "He talked a lot about how much he loved Candy—if Candy had lived longer, I think John would have made more films as a director", says Vince Vaughn, a friend of Hughes.[1]

Hughes's greatest commercial success came with Home Alone (1990), a film he wrote and produced about a child accidentally left behind when his family goes away for Christmas, forcing him to protect himself and his house from a pair of inept burglars. Hughes completed the first draft of Home Alone in just 9 days.[22] Home Alone was the top-grossing film of 1990, and remains the most successful live-action family comedy of all time. He followed up with the sequels Home Alone 2: Lost in New York in 1992 and Home Alone 3 in 1997. Some of the subsequent films he wrote and produced during this time also contained elements of the Home Alone formula, including the successful Dennis the Menace (1993) and the box office flop Baby's Day Out (1994). He also wrote screenplays under the pseudonym Edmond Dantes (or Dantès), after the protagonist of Alexandre Dumas's novel The Count of Monte Cristo. Screenplays credited to the Dantes nom de plume include Maid in Manhattan, Drillbit Taylor and Beethoven.[15]

Unproduced screenplays

Main article: John Hughes's unrealized projects

Later life

In 1994, Hughes retired from the public eye and moved back to the Chicago area. The following year, Hughes and Ricardo Mestres, both of whom had production deals with Walt Disney Pictures, formed the short-lived joint venture production studio Great Oaks Entertainment.[34][35] Hughes worked in Chicago, while Mestres was based in Los Angeles.[36] The company produced the films Jack, 101 Dalmatians, and Flubber, but Hughes and Mestres ended their partnership in 1997.[37] The 1998 film Reach the Rock, which was produced as part of the partnership between Hughes and Mestres, was subsequently credited as "a Gramercy Pictures release of a John Hughes and Ricardo Mestres production".[38]

In the following years, Hughes rarely granted interviews to the media, save a select few in 1999 to promote the soundtrack album of Reach the Rock.[39] The album was compiled by Hughes's son, John Hughes III, and released on his son's Chicago-based record label Hefty Records.[40] He also recorded an audio commentary for the 1999 DVD release of Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Personal life

In 1970, the then-20-year old[18] Hughes married Nancy Ludwig, whom he had met in high school. Together they had two children: John Hughes III (born in 1976) and James Hughes (born in 1979). They were together until his death in 2009. Nancy Hughes died on September 15, 2019.[41] Michael Weiss argued that Hughes's films expressed a Reagan Republican worldview.[42] In response to this, P. J. O'Rourke wrote that:

"I have no idea how, or if, John voted ... John and I never bothered to talk much about our politics. What we did talk about was the 20th century's dominant scrambled egghead bien pensant buttinski parlor pinko righty-tighty lefty-loosey nutfudge notion that middle-class American culture was junk, that middle-class Americans were passive dimbulbs, that America itself was a flop and that America's suburbs were a living hell almost beyond the power of John Cheever's words to describe ... We were becoming conservatives—in the most conservational sense. There were things that others before us had achieved and these were worth conserving ... Family was the most conservative thing about John. Walking across the family room in your stocking feet and stepping on a Lego (ouch!) was the fundamental building block of society."[18]

Death

On August 5, 2009, Hughes and his wife traveled to New York City to visit their son James and their new grandson. James said his father appeared to be in good health that night and that the family had made plans for the next day. On the morning of August 6, Hughes was taking a walk close to his hotel on West 55th Street in Manhattan when he suffered a heart attack.[1] He was rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at age 59.[43] Hughes's funeral was held on August 11 in Chicago; he was buried at Lake Forest Cemetery.[44] It was attended by his wife, two kids, and his grandchildren.[14]

Legacy

The pilot episode of the NBC comedy Community, broadcast on September 17, 2009, was dedicated to Hughes.[45] The episode included several references to The Breakfast Club and ended with a cover of "Don't You (Forget About Me)."[46] The One Tree Hill episode titled "Don't You Forget About Me," broadcast on February 1, 2010, ended with a scene similar to the ending scene of Sixteen Candles. It also contained references to other Hughes movies such as Home Alone. The 2011 Bob's Burgers episode "Sheesh! Cab, Bob?" also paid homage to Sixteen Candles. The teen comedy Easy A (2010) starring Emma Stone paid tribute to Hughes and his films at the very end, where Stone's character states she wishes her life were a John Hughes movie, by showing various clips of Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off.[47]

After Hughes's death, many of those who knew him commented on the impact Hughes had on their lives and on the film industry. Molly Ringwald said, "I was stunned and incredibly sad to hear about the death of John Hughes. He was and will always be such an important part of my life. ... He will be missed – by me and by everyone that he has touched. My heart and all my thoughts are with his family now."[48] Matthew Broderick also released his own statement, saying, "I am truly shocked and saddened by the news about my old friend John Hughes. He was a wonderful, very talented guy and my heart goes out to his family."[48] The 82nd Academy Awards (2010) included a tribute to Hughes's work. A retrospective of clips from Hughes's films was followed by cast members from several of them, including Molly Ringwald, Matthew Broderick, Macaulay Culkin, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Anthony Michael Hall and Jon Cryer,[4] gathering on stage to commemorate Hughes and his contributions to the film industry.[5]

Hughes's work has also influenced a new generation of millennial filmmakers,[49] including M. H. Murray of Teenagers fame, who has cited Hughes as one of his main influences. In interviews,[50][51] Murray stated, "I loved how John Hughes wrote teens ... They were flawed in this genuine sort of way."[52] Kelly Fremon Craig, who wrote and directed The Edge of Seventeen, also cited Hughes as an influence.[53][54]

Hughes is referenced in the song "Hello Chicago" by the collaborative project between Jesu and Sun Kil Moon, and appears on the album 30 Seconds To The Decline Of Planet Earth.[55] Mark Kozelek recalls a phone conversation with Hughes in which Kozelek asked him for $15,000 in order to release his album Songs for a Blue Guitar (released by his band The Red House Painters). Hughes agreed, stating "You're young and on the rise, and I'm just an old man living in Chicago". British indie pop band The 1975 cites Hughes as an influence in the band's music. Maisie Peters released a song called "John Hughes Movie" in 2021.[56] John Hughes's films served as inspiration for the style and tone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe film Spider-Man: Homecoming directed by Jon Watts, who took inspiration from films such as Ferris Bueller's Day Off.[57]

Works

Film

Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1982 National Lampoon's Class Reunion No Yes No
1983 Mr. Mom No Yes No
National Lampoon's Vacation No Yes No Based on his short story "Vacation '58", Also lyricist for "Walley World National Anthem"
Savage Islands No Yes No
1984 Sixteen Candles Yes Yes No
1985 The Breakfast Club Yes Yes Yes
National Lampoon's European Vacation No Yes No
Weird Science Yes Yes No
1986 Pretty in Pink No Yes Executive
Ferris Bueller's Day Off Yes Yes Yes
1987 Some Kind of Wonderful No Yes Yes
Planes, Trains and Automobiles Yes Yes Yes Also lyricist for "I Can Take Anything"
1988 She's Having a Baby Yes Yes Yes
The Great Outdoors No Yes Executive
1989 Uncle Buck Yes Yes Yes
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation No Yes Yes Based on his short story "Christmas'59",
1990 Home Alone No Yes Yes
1991 Career Opportunities No Yes Yes
Only the Lonely No No Yes
Dutch No Yes Yes
Curly Sue Yes Yes Yes
1992 Beethoven No Yes No Credited as Edmond Dantès
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York No Yes Yes Based on characters created by John Hughes
1993 Dennis the Menace No Yes Yes
1994 Baby's Day Out No Yes Yes
Miracle on 34th Street No Yes Yes
1996 101 Dalmatians No Yes Yes
1997 Flubber No Yes Yes
Home Alone 3 No Yes Yes
1998 Reach the Rock No Yes Yes
2001 Just Visiting No Yes No
New Port South No No Executive
2002 Maid in Manhattan No Story No Credited as Edmond Dantes
2008 Drillbit Taylor No Story No
2021 Home Sweet Home Alone No Story[a] No Based on Home Alone by John Hughes
Posthumous release

Acting roles

Year Title Role Note
1982 National Lampoon's Class Reunion 'Girl' with paper bag on head Uncredited
1985 The Breakfast Club Brian's dad
1986 Ferris Bueller's Day Off Man running between cabs

Television

Writer

Year Title Note
1979 Delta House 5 episodes
1983 At Ease Also creator and creative consultant for 1 episode
2000 American Adventure Based on characters by Hughes

Television appearances

Year Title Note
1994 Hal Roach: Hollywood's King of Laughter TV documentary
1995 Biography To John with Love: A Tribute to John Candy
2001 E! True Hollywood Story Sixteen Candles

Books

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Reboot of his film Home Alone in which he received a posthumous story writer credit as a tribute, as well as a "based on a screenplay by" credit.

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kamp, David (March 2010). "Sweet Bard of Youth". Vanity Fair. Retrieved February 20, 2010.
  2. ^ Goodman, Dean (August 6, 2009). ""Brat Pack" Director John Hughes Dies of Heart Attack". Reuters. Retrieved October 15, 2010.
  3. ^ "Molly Ringwald looks back on 'Sixteen Candles' in light of #MeToo movement". TODAY.com. October 2, 2018. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
  4. ^ a b BuzzSugar (March 7, 2010). "Video Tribute to John Hughes at the 2010 Oscars". Popsugar.com. Retrieved July 26, 2011.
  5. ^ a b "Oscars 2010: John Hughes Remembered at Academy Awards". Archived from the original on July 11, 2011. Retrieved March 7, 2010.
  6. ^ "John W. HUGHES' Obituary on Arizona Daily Star". Arizona Daily Star.
  7. ^ Markazi, Arash (May 5, 2009). "Q&A with Gordie Howe". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on January 14, 2017. Retrieved December 11, 2017.
  8. ^ McDermott, John (June 11, 2016). "Why Cameron Frye Wore a Gordie Howe Jersey in 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off'". MEL Magazine. Archived from the original on May 4, 2021. Retrieved July 21, 2017.
  9. ^ "Molly Ringwald Interviews John Hughes". Seventeen Magazine. Spring 1986. Archived from the original on August 9, 2009. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
  10. ^ Michael Joseph Gross (May 9, 2004). "When the Losers Ruled in Teenage Movies". The New York Times. p. 4. Retrieved July 21, 2010.
  11. ^ "A Diamond and a Kiss: The Women of John Hughes | Hazlitt". Hazlitt. July 5, 2016. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  12. ^ Gora, Susannah (2011). You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried: The Brat Pack, John Hughes, and Their Impact on a Generation. Three Rivers Press. p. 14. ISBN 9780307716606. Retrieved January 28, 2019.
  13. ^ Gora, Susannah (2011). You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried: The Brat Pack, John Hughes, and Their Impact on a Generation. Three Rivers Press. ISBN 9780307716606. Retrieved January 28, 2019.
  14. ^ a b "John Wilden Hughes, Jr". Biography.com. A&E Television Networks. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  15. ^ a b c Saperstein, Pat (August 6, 2009). "Director John Hughes dies at 59". Variety.
  16. ^ McLellan, Dennis (August 7, 2009). "John Hughes dies at 59; writer-director of '80s teen films". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 26, 2011.
  17. ^ a b c STEIN, ELLIN (June 24, 2013). "John Hughes: How National Lampoon led to 'The Breakfast Club' and 'Ferris Bueller': His '80s movies still define American teendom. It all began with the National Lampoon and Chevy Chase's 'Vacation'". Salon.com.
  18. ^ a b c O'Rourke, P.J. (March 22, 2015). "Don't You Forget About Me: The John Hughes I Knew". The Daily Beast. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
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  20. ^ Brady, Celia (August 1990). "Big Baby". Spy. pp. 66–77. Retrieved September 3, 2012.
  21. ^ Cieply, Michael (February 14, 1991). "Fox Says 'Big Deal' to New Hollywood Frugality : Movies: Writer-director John Hughes reportedly will get more than $200 million from Fox. Included is a sequel to the box-office hit". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 6, 2022.
  22. ^ "Holy Cow, Home Alone Is 25!". Chicago Magazine. Retrieved August 3, 2022.
  23. ^ "More Than Meets the Mogwai: Jaws 3/People 0 – Script Review". Blogger.com. Retrieved March 22, 2009.
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  25. ^ "National Lampoon's The Joy of Sex (Part Two 1981–1982)". Prettyinpodcast.com. Archived from the original on June 20, 2018. Retrieved July 26, 2023.
  26. ^ Honeycutt, Kirk (2015). John Hughes: A Life in Film. p. 41.
  27. ^ a b c Evans, Bradford (July 12, 2012). "The Lost Projects of John Hughes". Splitsider. Archived from the original on May 20, 2018. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  28. ^ Sciretta, Peter (February 18, 2010). "Details About One of John Hughes Unproduced Screenplays". /Film. Archived from the original on February 22, 2010. Retrieved March 8, 2010.
  29. ^ Carter, Bill (August 4, 1991). "Him Alone". The New York Times. Retrieved March 3, 2009.
  30. ^ a b c "20th Previews Foxy Lineup". Variety. February 10, 1991. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
  31. ^ Appelo, Tim (December 2, 1994). "John Hughes' View from the Top". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on December 5, 2020. Retrieved March 3, 2009.
  32. ^ "Film Projects 1999–2002 (haven't heard anything since)". The John Hughes Files. Archived from the original on September 19, 2010. Retrieved August 11, 2009.
  33. ^ "John Hughes to do "The Grisbeys"". Screenwriters' Utopia. Archived from the original on May 26, 2011. Retrieved March 3, 2009.
  34. ^ Busch, Anita M. (February 19, 1995). "Hughes And Mestres Team In Disney-based Great Oaks Ent". Variety. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  35. ^ Petrikin, Chris (1999). Variety power players 2000 : movers and shakers, power brokers and career makers in Hollywood. Perigee Books. p. 50. ISBN 0399525696.
  36. ^ Honeycutt, Kirk (2015). John Hughes: A Life in Film. Race Point Publishing. p. 188. ISBN 9781631060229.
  37. ^ Cox, Dan (November 4, 1997). "Mestres takes root at Disney". Variety. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  38. ^ Loewenstein, Lael (October 16, 1998). "Reach the Rock". Variety. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
  39. ^ Diaz, Julio (March 1999). "1999 interview with Hughes". Ink 19. Archived from the original on February 22, 2012. Retrieved June 8, 2008.
  40. ^ Goldstein, Patrick (March 24, 2008). "John Hughes' imprint remains. He's still revered in Hollywood, but whatever happened to the king of the teens?". Los Angeles Times.
  41. ^ O'Donnell, Maureen (September 24, 2019). "Nancy Hughes, inspiration, trusted adviser and wife of filmmaker John Hughes, has died at 68". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on September 25, 2019. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  42. ^ Weiss, Michael (September 21, 2006). "Some Kind of Republican". Slate.
  43. ^ "Tracking down the place where we lost John Hughes". movieline.com. August 13, 2009. Archived from the original on December 21, 2011. Retrieved August 6, 2009.
  44. ^ Kori Rumore (October 19, 2016). "Buried in Chicago: Where the famous rest in peace". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on November 9, 2016. Retrieved July 26, 2023.
  45. ^ "NBC's 'Community' dedicates its pilot to the late John Hughes". Tampa Bay Times. Archived from the original on May 1, 2015.
  46. ^ "NBC web site for Community". Nbc.com. July 18, 2011. Retrieved July 26, 2011.[not specific enough to verify]
  47. ^ "I Want My Life To Be Like an 80's movie - Easy A". Youtube. Retrieved August 20, 2023.
  48. ^ a b "Eighties Stars Speak About John Hughes". PerezHilton.com. Archived from the original on November 17, 2018. Retrieved July 26, 2011.
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  50. ^ "Teenagers - The Canadian Skins". The Daily Spectacle. Archived from the original on November 4, 2016. Retrieved July 26, 2023.
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  52. ^ Clay, Chris (April 29, 2016). "Mississauga director's web series a raw take on teenage life". www.mississauga.com. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
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  55. ^ Jesu and Sun Kil Moon (Ft. Jesu & Sun Kil Moon) – Hello Chicago, retrieved May 16, 2019
  56. ^ Wilcock, Ross (March 1, 2021). "Maisie Peters sees first charting single with 'John Hughes Movie'". Snack. Retrieved April 20, 2021.
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Bibliography