Page last updated at 07:35 GMT, Friday, 7 August 2009 08:35 UK

Breakfast Club creator dies at 59

John Hughes in 1984
John Hughes in 1984, the year he directed Sixteen Candles

The US film director and writer, John Hughes, who created some of the most famous comedies of the 1980s and 1990s, has died at the age of 59.

The director died after a heart attack in New York, his spokeswoman said.

Hughes was the director of such successful films as Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Breakfast Club, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

He was also a leading scriptwriter, penning films such as Pretty in Pink and Home Alone.

Over the past decade, Hughes withdrew from Hollywood and became a farmer in the Midwestern state of Illinois.

Hughes had been in Manhattan on a family visit when he died.

1980s zeitgeist

Hughes had not directed a film since Curly Sue in 1991, but the BBC's Vincent Dowd says it did not matter - his early movies had become part of the 1980s zeitgeist.

If, in 1986, Ferris Bueller's Day Off owed something to the on-screen energy of the young Matthew Broderick, it also benefited from Hughes' sharp script and direction, our correspondent says.

He worked well with young talent, as he demonstrated a year earlier in 1985, with cult film The Breakfast Club, starring Emilio Estevez and Mollie Ringwald.

In the high school tale, Hughes portrayed the lives of teenage Americans with dramatic, and comic, flair - and the box office returns were enormous.

'Quintessential filmmaker'

"Many filmmakers portray teenagers as immoral and ignorant, with pursuits that are pretty base," Hughes told the Chicago Tribune newspaper in 1985.

Matthew Broderick in Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)
I am truly shocked and saddened by the news about my old friend
Matthew Broderick

"They seem to think that teenagers aren't very bright. But I haven't found that to be the case. I listen to kids. I respect them. I don't discount anything they have to say just because they're only 16 years old," he added.

Born in 1950 in Michigan, Hughes started out as a journalist and advertising copywriter before turning to script writing.

His biggest hit of all came in 1990 with Home Alone, which he wrote and produced, but did not direct.

The film made the central character, the 10-year-old Macaulay Culkin, the biggest child star for decades and grossed almost $500m (£300m) worldwide.

"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 filmmaker, whose influence will be felt for generations, but a great and decent man."

In a statement, Matthew Broderick said: "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."

Actors pay tribute to John Hughes

Actress Molly Ringwald said: " I was stunned and incredibly sad to hear about the death of John Hughes. He was and will always be such an important part of my life."

By the mid-1990s, Hughes had disappeared from the public eye almost totally, though he continued to produce and write screenplays.

He wrote under the pseudonym of Edmond Dantes, a character in the Alexandre Dumas novel, The Count of Monte Cristo.

His credits under the name include Beethoven and Maid in Manhattan.

Dowd says Hughes will above all be remembered for a small number of movies which perfectly captured the spirit of 1980s America.

BBC News asked if you'd met or worked with Hughes and for your memories of the most memorable films he directed. Here is a selection of some of the e-mails we were sent.

This is sad news for all children of the 80s. JH films defined a generation and I am shocked and saddened by this news.
Peter Gaunt, Farnborough, Hampshire

What an utter legend. At 34 I am one of the generation that grew up with Hughes films. Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Breakfast Club and Some Kind of Wonderful are still among my all time faves & bring back what now seems like a wonderfully innocent time. Very sad to hear of his sudden passing. RIP to a true bringer of light!
Devoskie, Hong Kong, China

John Hughes' films are a shorthand for my childhood and teenage years. Anytime I feel nostalgic for those years I have to pick up Ferris Bueller, Breakfast Club or Weird Science. They just speak of a more innocent time. Cheesy perhaps, but so was the 80s and I'd have it no other way. Rest In Peace John Hughes.
Luke Lloyd, Folkestone

Uncle Buck is and always will be my favourite film, I've watched it near on 150 times which speaks for itself.

As with his films - they combined elements of perfectly written and acted visual gags along with nicely pitched emotional moments.

The soundtracks set the tone and pace beautifully for many memorable scenes. His writing and direction captured and influenced popular culture of the 80s and 90s and for that and a string of cult films he will be remembered fondly.
Brendan Mellan, Glasgow, Scotland

John Hughes directed the movie track of my youth. Most of his most famous films were favourites of mine without me even knowing he was involved. I knew little about him until seeing archive interview footage of him in an extra on the Ferris Buellar DVD, a film my kids are already loving. A new generation is about to discover him all over again.
Jeremy Orbell, Peterborough, UK

I am truly saddened by this news, John Hughes was responsible for some of my favourite ever films including Weird Science, Breakfast Club & Ferris Bueller.

With the current obsession of making bigger and more expensive blockbusters, John's considerably lower budget films will stand the test of time whilst most of these new films will be long forgotten in years to come.
Jamie Moore, Basildon, Essex

A sad loss. I saw Planes, Trains & Automobiles over seven times at the cinema. It got better each time I saw it.

Ferris Bueller will always mean a lot to people either in or approaching their forties. Weird how he just stopping making films a few years back. R.I.P. Mr. Hughes, you made me laugh a lot. An underestimated gift.
Ren Devous, Cavan, Ireland

Oh dear, that's sad. Ferris Bueller was a classic, I had bunked off school one afternoon and decided to watch it at the cinema.
Ade, London

I'd never watched Home Alone until we bought it this year for my 6 year old son. He loves it and watches it over again. Some aspects of the film may be dated but the comedy of it is timeless. There is no greater pleasure than hearing a child laughing out loud with genuine delight. No other film has quite this effect on him.
Neil, Bradford

John Hughes' films were a HUGE part of my teenage years in the 1980s. Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller were often quoted among my friends and I - and we wore out early VHS copies with repeat viewings. I'm happy that the films stand up and don't feel particularly dated. Mr Hughes slowed down after the mega millions rolled in with the Home Alone films, but I was always hoping he would make one more great movie. He will be missed.
Jason H, San Diego, USA

I'll always remember the feeling I got the first time I saw Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Just gave the sense that there were other kids like me who didn't know what they were going to do with their lives, and helped me get through a very difficult time.
Frankie Park, Haverhill, Suffolk England

Planes, Trains and Automobiles was my fave film of his, a very touching movie. I think a lot of John shone threw in his work, he seemed to have that human touch that got you hooked on the characters he directed. I'm sure many a tear has been shed by those who witnessed John Candy in my fave movie of his. An untimely passing.
Neil Blinston, San Antonio, Texas

A teen movie cannot be made today without a comparison to John Hughes. Due to his original voice, expert comedy timing and unique character work his name became more than a name, it became a genre. In my book; in the world of great comedy directors he is up there with Mel Brooks, Woody Allen and Billy Wilder. When someone complains that there are no teen movies that speak to the kids of today my answer is; there is ..the movies of Hughes, as they are as timely now as they were in his heyday of the 1980s.

This man had a hand in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Uncle Buck, Breakfast Club, 16 Candles, Weird Science, Pretty In Pink, Home Alone, National Lampoon's Vacation, Some Kind Of Wonderful, The Great Outdoors and Animal House.

Now if that isn't evidence of a comedic wunderkind then I don't know what is.
Dan Palmer, Bournemouth, UK

Ryan, Glasgow

Print Sponsor

Hughes' memorable film moments
07 Aug 09 |  Entertainment
Film buffs reveal 'must see' list
23 Jul 06 |  Entertainment
US character actor Gleason dies
29 May 06 |  Entertainment
Actor accused over sex crime list
04 Jul 04 |  Film

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific