Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Hollywood pays tribute to writer-director John Hughes

Hollywood paid tribute today to writer-director John Hughes, following his death at 59 from a heart attack.

The youth impresario of the 1980s and 90s, who captured the teenage and pre-teen market with films like Home Alone, The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, died yesterday during a morning walk in Manhattan, his spokesman Michelle Bega said.

He had been in New York to visit family.

Jake Bloom, Hughes' long-time lawyer, said he was "deeply saddened and in shock".

Hughes, a native of Lansing, Michigan, who later moved to suburban Chicago and set much of his work there, rose from ad writer to comedy writer to silver screen champ with his affectionate and idealised portraits of teenagers, whether the romantic and sexual insecurity of Sixteen Candles, or the JD Salinger-esque rebellion against conformity in The Breakfast Club.

His ensemble comedies helped make stars out of Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy and many other young performers.

He also scripted the phenomenally popular Home Alone, which made little-known Macaulay Culkin a sensation as the eight-year-old accidentally abandoned by his holidaying family, and wrote or directed such hits as National Lampoon's Vacation, Pretty In Pink, Planes, Trains & Automobiles and Uncle Buck.

"I was a fan of both his work and a fan of him as a person," Culkin said. "The world has lost not only a quintessential film-maker whose influence will be felt for generations, but a great and decent man."

Devin Ratray, best known for playing Culkin's older brother Buzz McCallister in the Home Alone films, said he remained close to Hughes over the years.

"He changed my life forever," Ratray said. "Nineteen years later, people from all over the world contact me telling me how much Home Alone meant to them, their families, and their children."

Other actors who got early breaks from Hughes included John Cusack (Sixteen Candles), Judd Nelson (The Breakfast Club), Steve Carell (Curly Sue) and Lili Taylor (She's Having A Baby).

Actor Matthew Broderick worked with Hughes in 1986 when he played the title character in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

"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," Broderick said.

Ben Stein, who played the monotone economics teacher calling the roll and repeatedly saying "Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?", said Hughes was a towering talent.

"He made a better connection with young people than anyone in Hollywood had ever made before or since," Stein said.

"It's incredibly sad. He was a wonderful man, a genius, a poet. I don't think anyone has come close to him as being the poet of the youth of America in the post-war period. He was to them what Shakespeare was to the Elizabethan age.

"You had a regular guy - just an ordinary guy. If you met him, you would never guess he was a big Hollywood power."

But as Hughes advanced into middle age, his commercial touch faded and, in Salinger style, he increasingly withdrew from public life. His last directing credit was in 1991 for Curly Sue and he wrote just a handful of scripts over the past decade. He was rarely interviewed or photographed.

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