'80s teen flick director John Hughes dead at 59

August 6, 2009 8:33:19 PM PDT
The Chicago area has lost one of its most famous directors.John Hughes died of a heart attack on Thursday morning while visiting family in New York. He was 59 years old.

In the words of film critic Roger Ebert, Hughes created the modern American teenager film.

You may not know his name, but his work celebrated this city and captured the essence of being a teen in America.

"If you remember, some of his people were naughty. In a great way. And I think he was naughty," said Jane Alderman, casting director.

Jane Alderman worked with John Hughes as a casting director for Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

The film underscored what Hughes' liked to do best: Take virtually unknown young actors, a good script, and a setting everyone can relate to and watch it all unfold. That's what happened in The Breakfast Club, National Lampoon's Vacation, Home Alone and Sixteen Candles.

"People come to the sets and they think, oh my God, this is going to be mayhem, but it's not really like that. I find most of these kids, or I find most kids delightful anyway," said Hughes.

"Hughes, even though he has been out of the limelight for years, he has an enormous influence on so many people who are now the kings and queens of Hollywood," said Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune film critic.

John Hughes was born in Michigan, but moved to Chicago at an early age. One of his trademarks was basing his movies in the fictional town of Shermer, Illinois. It was an inside joke because Hughes grew up in Northbrook, a town once called Shermerville. He graduated from Glenbrook North High School, located on Shermer Road.

"It's tough to think of what Chicago would be without John Hughes as someone who championed this town when few others were doing it," said Rich Moskal, director, Chicago Film Office.

"John was a character. I don't know if he ever went to a pitch meeting. He said 'I'm going to make this movies and Paramount would let him do it," said Alderman.

John Hughes not only directed movies, he wrote many of the scripts including ones for Mr. Mom and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. And he helped launch the careers of actors Mathew Broderick, Molly Ringwald, Macaulay Culkin.


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