Who Was John Hughes? Biography, Family, and Death of the Filmmaker

American filmmaker, John Hughes was undeniably renowned and beloved in the entertainment industry. He started off by writing jokes for comedians like Joan Rivers and Rodney Dangerfield. Eventually, he began writing screenplays for the National Lampoon magazine. After his hit screenplays, Class Reunion (1982) and National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) became popular, he decided to take on writing, directing and producing films that were centered around youngsters and their way of life. His directorial debut movie Sixteen Candles was released in 1984 and his iconic movie, The Breakfast Club – an evergreen classic, was released in 1985.

Biography – Who Was John Hughes?

John Wilden Hughes Jr was born on the 18th of February 1950 in Lansing, Michigan. Hughes moved a lot as a kid and as a result, was known as a shy and quiet kid because he was never comfortable anywhere. Each time he began to get used to a place, he was uprooted from his world.

For the first twelve years of his life, he lived in Grosse point Michigan. By the time he turned 13, when he was in the seventh grade, his family moved to Northbrook, a suburb in Chicago, Illinois. This is where Hughes attended Grove middle school and then Glenbrook North High School, from where he graduated.

Glenbrook High was where he met his wife to be, Nancy Ludwig while painting homecoming murals. His family lived in the suburbs of Chicago, on the outskirts of an upper-class neighborhood. Chicago later became the setting for most of the films he made.

After high school, Hughes attended the University of Arizona in Tucson but left before completing his third year. Immediately after, he began selling jokes to performers. He used these jokes to get a job as a copywriter in 1970 at Needham, Harper and Steers. Later, he wrote a story that was inspired by his travels as a child titled Vacation 58. This gave him a spot at the National Lampoon Magazine and the story later became a movie; National Lampoon’s Vacation, which also led to several sequels including National Lampoon’s European Vacation which was released in 1985.

John Hughes first credited screenplay was Class Reunion and then National Lampoon’s Vacation, which was a major hit; these were quickly followed by Mr. Mom. The successes of these earned him a three-film deal with Universal Pictures.

In 1984, Hughes’ directorial debut Sixteen Candles was loved by everyone. It received countless praises and did well in box office. The fact that it depicted the real lifestyles of teenagers in the upper-middle class suburbs was one of the main reasons for the love the film received. The film was the beginning of a string of teen-themed movies created by the beloved filmmaker. It also led to the creation of Hughes’ own production company. Some of these teen-themed movies are The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Weird Science, Some Kind of Wonderful and lots more.

In 1987, Hughes branched out from teen comedies and directed the hit film, Plains, Trains and Automobiles. The movie starred Steve Martin and John Candy.

Financially speaking, John Hughes’ greatest success was Home Alone (1990). A film he wrote and produced about a young boy who was accidentally left behind by his family when they went for a Christmas vacation. The boy had to defend the home against two burglars. Home Alone was the top-grossing film that year and till date, it remains the most successful live-action family comedy of all time. The movie unsurprisingly led to a couple of sequels. The last movie Hughes directed was Curly Sue. After that, he moved back to Chicago and away from the public eye.


john hughes
John Hughes with his family: image source

John Hughes was born to John Hughes Sr. and Marion Crawford; he was their first child and subsequently, their only son as they went on to have three daughters. His father, John Hughes Sr, worked in Sales while his mother, Marion Crawford, volunteered in charity work.

In 1970, John Hughes married Nancy Ludwig and together, they had two sons namely, John Hughes III who was born in 1976 and James Hughes who was born in 1979. The former is a musician with two albums under his belt.

Read Also: Brian Doyle-Murray Biography, Movies And TV Shows: All You Need To Know

Death of the Filmmaker

John Wilden Hughes Jr died from a heart attack on the morning of August 6, 2009, while taking a walk near his hotel on West 55th street in Manhattan, New York City. The day before, he had traveled down to New York to see his new-born grandson and his son, James. He was said to have been in perfect health at the time of his death. His funeral was held on August 11 in Chicago at Lake Forest Cemetery. He was only 59 years old at the time.


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