In a story that is just breaking, director John Hughes has passed away at the age of 59. It's being reported that Hughes was out taking a walk around his Manhattan neighborhood this morning when he suffered a heart attack.
For those that came of age during the time like myself, John Hughes' movies were seminal moments that perfectly captured the pleasure and pain of growing up as a teenager in the 1980s. He wrote, directed and produced some of the decade's biggest comedies including Vacation, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Uncle Buck and Home Alone, films that when combined grossed over a billion dollars at the box office. He also directed or wrote a series of teenage dramas that spoke to the reality of growing up in the middle class suburbs such as The Breakfast Club, a drama examining five teenagers and their social caste system in their high school or Pretty in Pink where the main female character has her dreams but her family is just scraping by financially. Under the creative brilliance of John Hughes, young emerging talent such as Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, Anthony Michael Hall, Jennifer Connelly, Judd Nelson, James Spader, Macaulay Culkin often got their breakthrough performances in one of his films.
Born on February 18, 1950, Hughes started his career as a copywriter in Chicago before becoming a writer in the 1970s for National Lampoon magazine. He made the leap to writing for television by penning episodes of the short-lived Delta House TV show, a spinoff of the popular Animal House feature film, before writing his first feature length screenplay with 1982's Class Reunion. While that film was a bust at the box office, Hughes' next comedy starring Michael Keaton proved to be a hit: 1983's Mr. Mom. From then on nearly everything that Hughes touched became a success. At the top of his game in the early 1990s, Hughes took the unusual move of self-retirement and moved out of the Hollywood circle, choosing to live a quiet life away from the public spotlight. His reasons were his own and he chose to shy away from interview requests asking him why.
Hughes is survived by his wife of 39 years, Nancy, two sons and four grandchildren. I never had the pleasure of meeting him or thanking him for making such wonderful movies, and I know that my sadness can't even begin to approach the pain and sorrow that his family must be feeling. I can't believe that he's gone.