John Hughes Biography

(American Filmmaker Known for His Coming-Of-Age Teen Comedy Films with Honest Depictions of Suburban Teenage Life)

Birthday: February 18, 1950 (Aquarius)

Born In: Lansing, Michigan, United States

American director, producer, and scriptwriter John Hughes is remembered for his coming-of-age teen films, which launched the careers of some of the best-known actors of Hollywood, such as Macaulay Culkin and the members of the Brat Pack. Starting his career as an advertising copywriter, he later wrote for the humor magazine National Lampoon. Many of his stories from the magazine were made into films, such as National Lampoon's Vacation. Over his illustrious career, he had written, produced, and directed multiple hits, such as Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Home Alone, Beethoven, and Dennis the Menace. He formed the production company Hughes Entertainment and later co-founded Great Oaks Entertainment. He also had a long-lasting work relationship with Canadian actor and comedian John Candy. In his final years, he stayed away from the media. He died of a heart attack, rather abruptly, while on a morning walk in New York City in 2009.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: John Wilden Hughes Jr.

Died At Age: 59


Spouse/Ex-: Nancy Ludwig (m. 1970)

father: John Hughes Sr.

mother: Marion Crawford

children: James A Hughes, John Hughes

Born Country: United States

Directors American Men

Height: 6'1" (185 cm), 6'1" Males

Died on: August 6, 2009

place of death: Mount Sinai Morningside, New York, United States

Cause of Death: Heart Attack

U.S. State: Michigan

Childhood & Early Life

John Wilden Hughes Jr., better known as John Hughes, was born in Lansing, Michigan, on February 18, 1950, to Marion Crawford and John Hughes Sr. While his father was a sales professional, his mother was a charity volunteer.

Hughes grew up with his three sisters. Till age 12, he stayed in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, a suburb of Metro Detroit. He was known to be imaginative since childhood.

In 1963, he moved to Northbrook, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, along with his family. Hughes initially attended first the Grove Middle School and then joined the Glenbrook North High School. His experiences in high school were the basis of most of his teen-themed films that he later directed.

Following his high school graduation, Hughes joined the University of Arizona in Tucson. Hughes, however, dropped out of the university later and started working as a comedy writer. He wrote jokes and sold them to professional comedians, such as Joan Rivers and Rodney Dangerfield.

In 1970, Hughes joined the advertising company Needham Harper & Steers. Hughes then joined Leo Burnett in 1974.

Continue Reading Below
Career as a Director, Producer, and Scriptwriter

While working as a marketing agent, John Hughes handled the cigarette brand Virginia Slims owned by Philip Morris. His work made him travel to New York City often.

While in New York on one such work visit, Hughes visited the offices of the well-known humor magazine National Lampoon. He soon started contributing to the magazine regularly.

One of his popular stories in the magazine, Vacation '58, based on his memories of childhood vacations with his family, was turned into the 1983 road comedy film National Lampoon's Vacation.

National Lampoon thus began co-producing movies written by their staff writers. Hughes then penned the script for the 1982 black comedy National Lampoon's Class Reunion. The film was fared badly at the box office.

This was followed by scripts for the comedies National Lampoon's Vacation (1983) and Mr. Mom (1983), both of which were hits. Soon, Hughes bagged a 3-film contract with Universal Pictures. In 1984, Hughes made his directorial debut with the coming-of-age comedy Sixteen Candles.

Hughes soon came to be known as a prominent teen film director and brought to life realistic adolescent characters on screen. Some of his notable films from this era were The Breakfast Club (1985), Weird Science (1985), Pretty in Pink (1986), and Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) all of which are now known as cult classics. His films made stars out of their actors, such as Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, and Emilio Estevez, who became famous as the Brat Pack.

In 1987, Hughes directed Planes, Trains and Automobiles, which, for a change, featured adult protagonists. The film stared actors Steve Martin and John Candy and was a hit. Hughes and Candy became close associates over the years and worked in many films together.

By 1987, Hughes has also launched his own production company, Hughes Entertainment. It later branched into a music label, before closing in 2002.

In 1988, Hughes directed She's Having a Baby. The film was a commercial disaster. In 1991, he directed his last film, the comedy-drama Curly Sue.

Continue Reading Below

In the 1990s, Hughes started gaining fame as a screenwriter and penned scripts for many box office hits. Two of his popular films from this period, Home Alone, starring Macaulay Culkin, (1990) and Beethoven (1992), began profitable franchises.

He later penned the scripts of the spin-offs, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) and Home Alone 3 (1997). Hughes also wrote the script for Dennis the Menace (1993).

He moved to the Chicago metropolitan area in 1994 but stayed away from the media. Hughes also produced Miracle on 34th Street (1994), a remake of the 1947 film of the same name, and New Port South (2001), a film that was scripted by his son James.

In 1995, he co-established the production company Great Oaks Entertainment (with Ricardo Mestres), which primarily dealt with the co-production of films produced by Disney. Hughes also scripted the films 101 Dalmatians (1996) and Flubber (1997), both of which were remakes made by his company.

Hughes ended his partnership with Ricardo Mestres in 1997. In the 2000s, he penned the scripts for a couple of films, the most prominent of them being the Jennifer Lopez-starrer 2002 romantic drama Maid in Manhattan.

Personal Life

In 1970, 20-year-old John Hughes married Nancy Ludwig. Hughes and Ludwig had met in high school.

The couple had two children: their sons John Hughes III (born in 1976) and James (born in 1979). John grew up to be a musician, while James became a renowned writer and producer.

Hughes was not too fond of giving interviews. By the 1990s, he had managed to stay away from publicity completely and withdrew from public life.

He was also known to nurse grudges for years. He cut off contact with his many young performers, such as Anthony Michael Hall and Molly Ringwald, only because they had rejected some of his scripts.


In August 2009, Hughes was in New York City, along with his wife. He had planned to visit one of his sons who was settled there and was eager to meet his grandson, too.

On August 6, he suffered a massive heart attack while taking a morning walk down Manhattan’s West 55th Street. He was immediately rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, but died soon after. Hughes was 59 at the time of his death.

He remains buried in the Lake Forest Cemetery in Lake Forest, Illinois. His wife died on September 15, 2019.

See the events in life of John Hughes in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- John Hughes Biography
- Editors,

People Also Viewed

John Hughes Biography
John Hughes
Christopher Nolan Biography
Christopher Nolan
(American, British)
Ben Affleck Biography
Ben Affleck
Bradley Cooper Biography
Bradley Cooper
John Krasinski Biography
John Krasinski
Adam Sandler Biography
Adam Sandler
Jodie Foster Biography
Jodie Foster
Mel Gibson Biography
Mel Gibson