One Year Ago Today: An ’80s Legend is Lost

On August 6, 2009, ’80s movies fans, especially those of us who grew up in the ’80s, had our hearts ripped out with the passing of writer/producer/director John Hughes (February 18, 1950 – August 6, 2009).

Hughes died of a heart attack while walking in Manhattan, where he was visiting his family. On that morning, Hughes was on West 55th Street in Manhattan when he was stricken with chest pains. At 8:55 a.m., 911 operators summoned paramedics to assist. Hughes was unconscious when they arrived several minutes later. Hughes was raced to Roosevelt Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. Not only was his death at a relatively young age tragic, but it was tragic that it happened in New York, and not his beloved Chicago.

Hughes got his start writing for the National Lampoon Magazine. His first credited screenplay was Class Reunion, which wasn’t too successful. But he skyrocketed when he wrote the screenplay for National Lampoon’s Vacation.

The first movie he directed was the classic Sixteen Candles. This began a string of very successful movies set around high school – The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Weird Science and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Then to avoid being known solely known for teen comedies, he branched out in 1987, directing Planes, Trains & Automobiles starring Steve Martin and John Candy, and Uncle Buck, also starring John Candy.

Then his biggest success came with the movie Home Alone, which is still the most successful live-action comedy of all time. Then his last film as a director was 1991’s Curly Sue, which I have never seen.

Hughes stepped away from Hollywood in 1994. This was the same year John Candy died. If Candy did not die, who knows if Hughes may have come back or not.

Hughes made stars out of Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Jon Cryer, Macaulay Culkin, and Alec Baldwin.

His teen movies were incredible. Teens in the ’80s could totally relate to at least some of the characters in his movies. Most of the characters were were awkward and uncomfortable in their own skin. But, his movies managed to have happy endings.

Something that Hughes did, that is greatly missed today, is the way he integrated music in his movies. Who can forget Ducky dancing and singing to “Try a Little Tenderness” in the record store, or Ferris in the parade performing “Twist and Shout”. And you can’t help but think of the song “Don’t You Forget About Me” when mentioning John Hughes.

Here is my top 5 John Hughes movies:
5. Sixteen Candles
4. Uncle Buck
3. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
2. Planes, Trains & Automobiles
1. The Breakfast Club

What are some of your favorite John Hughes movies, moments or memories?

Here is a poll to select your favorite John Hughes movie that he actually directed:

In closing, as the great Ferris Bueller said: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

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