Thursday, August 06, 2009

Sincerely, John Hughes


I was babysitting for my mom's friend Kathleen's daughter the night I wrote that first fan letter to John Hughes. I can literally remember the yellow grid paper, the blue ball point pen and sitting alone in the dim light in the living room, the baby having gone to bed.

I poured my heart out to John, told him about how much the movie mattered to me, how it made me feel like he got what it was like to be a teenager and to feel misunderstood.

(I felt misunderstood.)

I sent the letter and a month or so later I received a package in the mail with a form letter welcoming me as an "official" member of The Breakfast Club, my reward a strip of stickers with the cast in the now famous pose.

I was irate.

I wrote back to John, explaining in no uncertain terms that, excuse me, I just poured my fucking heart out to you and YOU SENT ME A FORM LETTER.

That was just not going to fly.

He wrote back.

"This is not a form letter. The other one was. Sorry. Lots of requests. You know what I mean. I did sign it."

He wrote back and told me that he was sorry, that he liked my letter and that it meant a great deal to him. He loved knowing that his words and images resonated with me and people my age. He told me he would say hi to everyone on my behalf.

"No, I really will. Judd will be pleased you think he's sexy. I don't."

I asked him if he would be my pen pal.

He said yes.

"I'd be honored to be your pen pal. You must understand at times I won't be able to get back to you as quickly as I might want to. If you'll agree to be patient, I'll be your pen pal."


For two years (1985-1987), John Hughes and I wrote letters back and forth. He told me - in long hand black felt tip pen on yellow legal paper - about life on a film set and about his family. I told him about boys, my relationship with my parents and things that happened to me in school. He laughed at my teenage slang and shared the 129 question Breakfast Club trivia test I wrote (with the help of my sister) with the cast, Ned Tanen (the film's producer) and DeDe Allen (the editor). He cheered me on when I found a way around the school administration's refusal to publish a "controversial" article I wrote for the school paper. And he consoled me when I complained that Mrs. Garstka didn't appreciate my writing.

"As for your English teacher…Do you like the way you write? Please yourself. I'm rather fond of writing. I actually regard it as fun. Do it frequently and see if you can't find the fun in it that I do."


He made me feel like what I said mattered.

"I can't tell you how much I like your comments about my movies. Nor can I tell you how helpful they are to me for future projects. I listen. Not to Hollywood. I listen to you. I make these movies for you. Really. No lie. There's a difference I think you understand."


"It's been a month of boring business stuff. Grown up, adult, big people meetings. Dull but necessary. But a letter from Alison always makes the mail a happening thing."


"I may be writing about young marriage. Or babies. Or Breakfast Club II or a woman's story. I have a million ideas and can't decide what's next. I guess I'll just have to dive into something. Maybe a play."

"You've already received more letters from me than any living relative of mine has received to date. Truly, hope all is well with you and high school isn't as painful as I portray it. Believe in yourself. Think about the future once a day and keep doing what you're doing. Because I'm impressed. My regards to the family. Don't let a day pass without a kind thought about them."


There were a few months in 1987 when I didn't hear from John. I missed his letters and the strength and power and confidence they gave me and so I sent a letter to Ned Tanen who, by that time, was the President of Paramount Pictures (he died earlier this year). In my letter I asked Mr. Tanen if he knew what was up with John, why he hadn't been writing and if he could perhaps give him a poke on my behalf.

He did.

I came home from school soon after to find an enormous box on my front porch filled with t-shirts and tapes and posters and scripts and my very own Ferris Bueller's Day Off watch.

And a note.

"I missed you too. Don't get me in trouble with my boss any more. Sincerely, John Hughes."


Fast forward.

1997. I was working in North Carolina on a diversity education project that partnered with colleges and universities around the country to implement a curriculum that used video production as an experiential education tool. On a whim, I sent John a video about the work we were doing. I was proud of it and, all these years later, I wanted him to be proud too.

Late one night I was in the office, scheduled to do an interview with a job candidate. Ten minutes or so into the call it was clear that he wasn't the right guy, but I planned to suffer through.

Then the phone rang.

1…2…3…4…a scream came from the other room and 1…2…3…my boss Tony was standing in my doorway yelling, "John Hughes is on the phone!!"

I politely got off the phone with the job candidate who was no longer a candidate and

Hit. Line. Two.

"Hi, John."

"Hi, Alison."

We talked for an hour. It was the most wonderful phone call. It was the saddest phone call. It was a phone call I will never forget.


John told me about why he left Hollywood just a few years earlier. He was terrified of the impact it was having on his sons; he was scared it was going to cause them to lose perspective on what was important and what happiness meant. And he told me a sad story about how, a big reason behind his decision to give it all up was that "they" (Hollywood) had "killed" his friend, John Candy, by greedily working him too hard.


He also told me he was glad I had gotten in touch and that he was proud of me for what I was doing with my life. He told me, again, how important my letters had been to him all those years ago, how he often used the argument "I'm doing this for Alison" to justify decisions in meetings.

Tonight, when I heard the news that John had died, I cried. I cried hard. (And I'm crying again.) I cried for a man who loved his friends, who loved his family, who loved to write and for a man who took the time to make a little girl believe that, if she had something to say, someone would listen.

Thank you, John Hughes. I love you for what you did to make me who I am.

Sincerely, Alison Byrne Fields.

1,413 comments:

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Natasha said...

Hi Alison. I just heard the news this morning and immediately thought of you. In college you told me about your pen pal relationship and I was so impressed. His movies also played a large role on my adolescent years. My family and I still rattle off movie lines to each other. Thanks for reminding me why. I was just thinking of lines from Sixteen Candles last weekend when my sister got married. Best regards to you.

Karen said...

Wow Alison - What a wonderful gift! Thank-you for sharing your story on John Hughes - it was very insightful on the man that he was. I know that I have discussed on many occasions with friends and family the reasons why he may have disappeared from making movies and where he was now. He was truly an icon of the 80's and a beacon of light for adolescents everywhere! Thank-you again!

Christina H. said...

This was such a wonderful post, thank you for sharing your relationship with him with all of us. I was just a kid when most of his movies were coming out, but my brother was a teenager and was smart enough to let me watch them and I am always so greatful for that. I posted a tribute of my own last night on my blog, but I have to share a link to yours. Thanks again for sharing this wonderful story with all of us.

James said...

Thank you for this. I can't say anything that has not already been said in the previous 200 comments, other than, thanks. And I'm sorry for your loss. But what a great legacy this man left.

kelli ann said...

i love this so much-- what a story. so earnest, and real:: it is beautiful. thanks for sharing a bit of your life-- cheers

Anonymous said...

He realy did 'get us' didn't he? We weren't irritating non-persons (how most people treat you as a teen)He understood that our hearts broke, how if 'that boy' ignored you-it felt like the end of your life! He made it feel ok to be a bit of a geek, a princess...you knw the rest.
What a great story, thanks for posting.
Kitty (UK)

Kim said...

OMG! i didnt know john. i still dont even know who that person was. but one thing i know. i nearly crying. im a teenager. and i wish i could have someone like that too. he seems to b an amazing person.
i dont used to reply blogs but this one.. i already said it made me nearly crying.
Like Katrin said. i wish i could hv someone like this too and i wish my daughter or son will hv such an amazing person too.

Always, L said...

thank you for sharing.

SEV said...

I can't say much more than add that that was amazing.

owldaddy said...

This is a fantastic story. I loved his films in the 80's. My family and I still watch them as a family and laugh. We each see things from a different perspective. Each year at Xmas we watch Christmas Vacation my tween daughters relate and remind me I am Clark Griswald. I always had an amazing opinion of John Hughes. Please relate your story in long form. I would buy the book in a heartbeat. Today you have spoken to/and for many in this world who now realize even more what an amazing person has left us. THANKS

Andy said...

to be honest, I was never familiar with john hughes. Sure, i've seen some of his movies, but I never knew his name. Call me ignorant or whatever.

After reading youre note here, I have a a great amount of respect, and love for this man. He seems very quality.

thank you for sharing this

kim said...

Alison,
Growing up in the 80s, John Hughes movies pretty much defined my childhood. I wanted nothing more than to find my own Jake Ryan or fall in love with my best friend Some-Kind-of-Wonderful-style. He gave me hope. No matter how bad things looked, no matter what the struggle, his movies always ended on a high note. And I will always love his movies for that gift. This story you have shared has done more than touch the lives of millions. It has done the impossible. You’ve written the final chapter for John Hughes and appropriately, gave his passing a positive twist. Thank you for giving us one more happy ending from John.

Jeffrey said...

Alison,

Thank you for sharing your personal story about John Hughes. Those movies where so inspiring to me growing up. My husband and I were shocked last night to hear of his death and saddened by the loss of a great artist.

Wrathful Dakini said...

Thank you Allison.

Peg said...

Thanks so much for sharing about your personal connection with Mr. Hughes. I really admired him and his work, too.

natasha said...

O this is a beautiful post. Thank you so much.

Virginia said...

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Thank you so much for sharing this. I do not know who or where I would be without John Hughes. His work always mattered to me and always will.

JennMG said...

Ă…lison,
Thanks for sharing this touching tribute. It's an inspiring piece of writing

Anonymous said...

Its a sad sad day ='( John Hughes shaped my life...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this and sharing it with the world.
{sniffling at my desk} Betty

MinaLucia said...

Thank you this is the best thing I have ever seen on a blog. You are amazing and this makes it even more clear that he was not another guy making a buck off teens.
Thank you so very much for this!

Jon Howells said...

What a lovely story. I always thought the man behind those films must be a good one - your story shows how right that thought was. Maybe he didn't completely believe that "when you grow up, your heart dies."

Thanks for sharing.

Jon

Drew Avril said...

Inspiring. For every story we read in the media about some celebrity brushing off his fans, about a captain of industry who forgets the people who got her there, or just a grown up who forgets to listen to a child -- this makes them all fade into the background.

As 199 people before me said, thanks for sharing. Like Hughes did for you, you've inspired your readers to be something positive for someone else and, perhaps more importantly, themselves.

Kayjee said...

Awesome story! Thanks for sharing.

Matt said...

It's rare to find a Baby Boomer that really understands Gen X. We have lost a great soul. I hope one day someone else can make movies in the thoughtful style he did. But I would not bet on it.

Anonymous said...

You just made me cry!

Kellie Huffman said...

Thank-you Alison, for such a wonderful post. I was in my early 20's in the 80's, loved going to movies and just knew I loved John Hughes movies. I had to see every one. You have put a human face on him, more than any news story could. I was sad when I heard he had died so young. [I'm not that far away from he age.] Your post shows me what a beautiful person he was, how true he was to his purpose, which totally explains the beauty of his work.

I want to see every one of his movies again through the eyes of the new knowledge you have given me. Alison, you've done it again. You made John Hughes proud with this post.

jennifer said...

WEll done. thank you for sharing.

Kishi said...

Thanks for this very very impressive article. I've been a big fan of his films but this side story makes me almost cry. Such a nice guy he was.. RIP John.

cripkitty said...

I think a part of me died last night with John. Your tribute made my eyes fill with tears. I felt like the schools in Ferris Bueller and Breakfast Club were mine. The impact that his movies made on me resonate throughout the person that I am today. It's a true shock and tragedy that Hollywood lost such a true talent.

I'm sorry for your loss. You were so fortunate to see a small part of what we all miss now with email, skype, webchats, and teleconferencing.
Thank you for writing such a great tribute.

Shark said...

I am slumped over my keyboard at work crying. It is a rare thing to know a person who had such a postive impact on so many lives, who through it all remained true to themselves and to the poeple that loved him. He was a visionary who played by his own rules. And now you are a part of that legacy.
-Nasreen

Tom said...

Thanks so much for sharing this with the world. I loved those films when they arrived during my teen years, and had just recently begun to revisit them and marvel at just how special they are. It's great to read how careful John was with people both on screen and off. How fortunate you are to have been a part of his life, and how wonderful it is that you took the time to write him those first letters. We never think people are listening, do we? It's clear that not only sometimes are people listening, but that those people can be pretty amazing.

Sean said...

Incredibly moving and I thank you for sharing this with the world. I've been so saddened, but your friendship and connection to him have touched me.

Jason: Husband, and Father of Two! said...

Allison, you may be responsible for fueling John Hughes's brilliance. When things got tough, he reminded everyone who they were making movies for. You embodied all of us to him. For that, I thank you.

It's not often a blog post makes me cry.

south carolina geek said...

Dear Allison,

I am at work and your blog just made me well up with tears. Thank you so much for posting this and for having the committment to keep writing John and sharing it with us. I grew up far far away from Illinos and California (south carolina), but watching his movies made me feel so close to the charcters. it made me think about bigger things and most of all it made me feel that I was not all alone and just some geek stuck in the redneck south. at least we still have the movies.

i cry everytime Keith has the talk with his dad in some kind of wonderful. it just hits me right in the heart.

your post today did the same thing. thanks.

Ramona said...

Thank you so much for sharing this story, Alison. John Hughes' movies meant so much to me growing up, and this is a wonderful tribute to his memory.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing this amazing story! It's very touching. I too very much enjoyed John Hughes and his films and I was so sad to hear that he passed away. This is a wonderful tribute to him!

Rebecca said...

Thanks so much for sharing this. Around the same age as you were when you established your pen-palship with John, I established one with Sam Donaldson. (I was a politics geek in high school.) This makes me think it's time to just drop him a note, to say hi, while I still can.

I'm sorry for your loss.

Amy said...

Thanks for sharing this. Very touching.

MommaKiss said...

That is one of the best stories I've EVER read. well, not really a "story" but a retelling of an amazing experience. Thank you for sharing!

Johanna said...

THis is beautiful. I'm sure you've gotten (at this point) 234 comments saying the same thing, but good lord this is amazing.
I'm so glad that he was out there, listening to someone, since I came to his movies 20 years after they came out, and love them as though they were my own.

Life moves pretty fast sometimes. If you don't look around once in a while, you might miss it.

I'm glad you knew John Hughes.

Shamus said...

Wow,, your story, like John's work, is emotionally powerful and inspiring....

Much love to you and to John in the next life..

His legacy is timeless and will continue to resonate with teenagers long into the future.

Thank you for the amazing story!

Cheers,
Shamus

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this story. Best blog I've read in weeks/months........

sarah said...

amazing. thanks for sharing this.

Linda said...

Alison, that was beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing it.

MrJeff2000 said...

John Hughes was an original mind in an industry that typically frowns on or punishes originality.

His passing diminishes the film community.

chaseroper.com said...

What a wonderfully written post. Thank you so much for sharing this part of your life with all of us. It was just an amazing thing to read and I know John Hughes is proud.

Thanks again,

Chase

Lindsay said...

John Hughes passing leaves a hole in me...he truly understood those awful teenage years...this was a beautiful story Alison....thank you so much for opening your heart to us....such a loss....

21stCenturyMom said...

What a lovely tribute. It comes as no surprise that you went to Hampshire, as did I. So thanks from a fellow alum.

Anonymous said...

I grew up watching a lot of his movies. I fell in love with his movies watching 16 Candles. I still to this day have to watch it. I know the movie front and back like most of his fans and fans of that movie do. He will be missed!

Tederick said...

Incredible story. Thank you so much.

Chris said...

Allison, my heart goes out to you. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Hughes back in '93 when I was a featured extra in "Baby's Day Out." What an amazing man. Courteous to the crew, cast and extras, and had the kids from the Ape House scene in stitches. He actually was one of the last people to get lunch, AFTER THE CAST AND CREW. Sat with the Crew, too.


Seems like a bit of our youth is now gone with his passing. Cherish your memories of him. I'm sure he felt the same way about you.

All my best. RIP John.

D'Artagnan said...

Unbelievably beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing this, it makes the sad news a little easier to take. I'm so happy that you had this connection in your life!

Derek said...

Thanks for sharing this. A good reminder of the difficulties of adolescence (maybe they never end!) and of one of the people who got us through them.

supertester said...

I think John Hughes would be proud of what you've started and shared here. Thank you for sharing your story and this insight into your connection. When I heard the news I was saddened and relived so many memories from my teenage years. Thanks again.

Rebecca (Becky) Fjelland Davis said...

I agree. Holy shit. THANKS for sharing this.

Lester Alfonso said...

Alison, thanks for writing this. Thanks for sharing. I heard the news by reading this. I had a sinking feeling all the way through about what I was about to hear. It's a beautiful tribute and shows a side of of this artist that many don't know about. Your story could accompany all film retrospectives of his work. cheers, Lester

Peg said...

Thanks for sharing Alison, and helping those of us who were touched by him better understand the man behind the movies. This is a beautiful and touching tribute that has moved me to tears and is one of the most poignant eulogies I have ever heard.

L said...

Teary eyed at work. RIP Jon Hughes. What a beautiful tribute.

Sioen said...

John Hughes was a part of shaping who I am, by giving me iconic images of my generation that helped me make sense of the mess of being a teenager.

He made me laugh, and cry, and be thankful for my life, as hormonal and messed up as it might have seemed then. For that, I am thankful.

And thank you so much for giving me another glimpse of the man behind it. He was more awesome than I knew.

Siobhan Phoenix said...

An old friend of mine reposted this post on her Facebook today. I am impressed by the humanity this "famous person" showed to you, as a young woman.

I have known a fair amount of "famous" people in my life, and what everyone seems to forget about them is that they are just human beings, like the rest of us.

It seems that John Hughes was an incredible human, as well as an amazing Director, Producer, and Writer.

I am very sorry for your loss.

Danny Alexander said...

What an incredible story! Thank you!

adeibiza said...

unreal - i'm choking up

ferris bueller, pretty in pink, breakfast club, planes etc defined my growing up

thank you for this post

Anonymous said...

Dear Alison,
This is such a heartfelt, meaningful tribute to the man who impacted so many of our teen-aged lives. While I don't know you, I find myself feeling so proud of the teenager you were for forging this friendship, and of the adult you are for writing about it so eloquently.
thank you.
My condolences on your loss--and all of our loss.
Caryn Karmatz Rudy

Rev. L. Don Campbell, II, KSC said...

Thank you, Alison.

Linda said...

I didn't cry when Farrah died. I didn't cry when Michael died. John Hughes? Like a baby. Those movies truly defined a generation. He may have been a peer to our parents, but he got us in a way that made universal angst seem very personal.

Thank you for sharing this. It's nice to know that he wasn't just an amazing talent, but a really great person.

Anonymous said...

Alison,
This is a great tribute to John. His movies touched so many people back in the 80's and now 25 years later. My son's just got to see Ferris the other day and loved it. I can't wait to let them see The Breakfast Club when they're older. It changed my life. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.
Best wishes,
Pete

trishtoro said...

This is amazing! It had me crying at the end. John Hughes was an amazing man! <3

Kim said...

What an amazing experience that must've been for you, Alison. Thank you for sharing. I had no idea why he'd left Hollywood - so sad...

liamarie said...

What a wonderfully touching story. Thank you so much for sharing that. John Hughes was and is an legend. I always loved his movies having watched them over and over again for years. But hearing your story that he corresponded with you for those few years, is really amazing.

JeSais said...

wow. thank you for sharing and I'm sorry for the loss of John Hughes.... for all of us.

Nikki the Foodie of Lobster Gram said...

Amazing story and an amazing filmmaker and human being. He will be missed.

Helen said...

Such a beautiful story. Thank you, Allison, for sharing it with the world.

Kristen | LanierStar said...

i have so many things i want to say, but in order to keep in tears i'll just say- thank you so much for sharing.

Stephen said...

Wonderful story, he defined our teenage years as if he was one of the group with us. Very moving, RIP John - we love you.

Recovering DJ said...

What a great post, thanks so much for sharing it. Truly remarkable!

worldofhiglet said...

The power of words...

Thank you for sharing this and what a wonderful tribute to someone who really touched so many lives.

KT Designs said...

I love this story so much. It brought a tear to my eyes. I was so sad to hear of John's passing. The beauty and humor of his films made a lasting mark on me and most of my friends. He will be missed.

Thanks Alison for sharing the John Hughes that you knew.

Anonymous said...

I bet you could sell that Ferris watch for some decent money! Ka-ching!

Jo said...

What a beautiful story! Thanks for sharing.

My favourite movie EVER is Pretty in Pink.

La Dauphine said...

So amazing! Thanks for sharing. It was a beautiful tribute.

http://ladauphinestyle.blogspot.com

sharon ira said...

wow how cool is that!! he's really a great person having corresponded to you that way... i'm way out here in the Philippines.. and i have to thank him for the movies that completed my childhood and teen life!!! RIP now sir... thank you!!!

Ar.Imrul kayes said...

thanks for sharing.although i dont know John but ur story feels like the relation between u and john is not tangible and this reminds me we are human-being..and our feelings circulate in the same paradox and exceptional then other creation of god..

Caitlin said...

Alison,

Thank you for sharing. As an aspiring screenwriter, I've always looked up to John Hughes, and hoped someday to be capable of his level of writing. After reading your piece, I truly hope that I can simply live up to the kind of person he was. If I ever make it in this field, I vow to also always remind myself I'm doing it "for the Alisons."

While his death is certainly touching many, you're obviously going through it on a different level, my thoughts are with you. Stay strong.

The Late Collin J. Rae said...

So amazing to read this, of course like so many others I grew up on these movies.

chiquita said...

Wow. just wow. I was sad before but this shows what a great guy he was, beyond making the great movies he did.

Sarah said...

Alison-

I think every child should have a mentor in their life and what a beautiful gift to have had John Hughes be yours. You were and are tenacious in your desires and to have been encouraged by a man who gave our generation so much was truly wonderful. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Jaradel said...

I found this post through a friend on LJ. Yesterday, when I heard that John Hughes had died, I felt like I'd lost a childhood friend, but you really did. How wonderful that he took the time to talk to you, to stay in touch and give you encouragement. Those are memories I am sure you will always treasure. You very eloquently summed up what made John Hughes so special - he really got it, what it was like to be a teenager - whether you were a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, a criminal, or any of a hundred other labels. My favourite John Hughes movie is one he wrote, but did not direct - Some Kind of Wonderful. Of all of his movies, I identified with that one the most. Godspeed, John Hughes.

Chris said...

I'm sorry for your loss, Alison. Here I am, checking Paul F. Tompkins' Twitter Tweets looking for a laugh and this is where it takes me?!! I'm just kidding. A lovely and emotional piece of writing. I'm getting misty myself. Try to to a smile on during this tough time.

Ned said...

Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. Looking at all these comments, you have obviously touched a lot of people with this story, and it sounds like John would be very proud of you for doing this.

Georgia said...

This was so beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing this story. I have a similar one, although not as in-depth, with my high school hero Ray Bradbury. Just a little thoughtfulness can go so far.

MelADramatic Mommy said...

This is one of the most amazing stories I've ever read. Thank you for sharing it with us and giving us such an intimate peek into your life and his. John Hughes defined my tween and teen years. To know he is gone makes me incredibly sad. I hope, wherever he is, he can feel how much we love and will miss him and that his family knows how much he touched us.

KStrat2258 said...

Wow. just wow.

I'm so happy I read this. It was so powerful and moving. He was excellent at what he did, and was an amazing, caring individual.

Thanks for sharing! :)

Virtue said...

wow. you don't often get such a loving and personal review of a hollywood persona. it's nice to see the human side of people in the spotlight and this was especially touching. though i am sure it was difficult to write at this time, thanks so much for sharing. best wishes and condolences.

Amanda Rogers said...

please please please send this blogpost to a national mag so we can get this out there to honor John Hughes.

GoLongFrankie said...

Very touching letter. I first read "Summer of '42" in National lampoon. It turned out to be the basis for NL's "Vacation." John was a talented individual that understood human nature. It showed in his work and in the fact that he put his family first. He and his family should be proud of his life.He will be missed. I bet he and John Candy are sharing stories right now.

Htos1 said...

...and this is why I say he is THE last vestige of classic Hollywood Americana.RIP Mr.Hughes.

Blue Fantastico said...

I want to hug you.

Peter said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. Having also been a big fan of John Hughes, I was scouring the internet for stories about him and his passing. Obviously, yours is the most heart-felt. A beautiful tribute to a great man and a beautiful relationship.

leah said...

What a moving story, thank you so much sharing this.

The Lil Bee said...

Holy shit. I am absolutely speechless. I posted about John Hughes this morning, as I'm sure half of the blogging world did, but this just blew me away. I'm so sorry for your loss, thankful for your courage to write to him that second time (and again and again), and touched that you shared his words with all of us. This was completely amazing in so many ways, and I hope you don't mind me updating my post to link to yours. You've expressed this loss better than any of us could and you deserve the recognition.

Joe Schaefer said...

I work in the Internet industry and rarely find a 'moving' blog post. This is one of my faves in a long time. Very interesting and truly transparent in the heartfelt nature - very real, sincere. Nicely done. Obviously John was right - you had something to say and look at all the people who are listening and reacting.

Angela said...

Thank you for sharing this. My Biology teacher was in the the theatre watching "The Breakfast Club" at the same time I was. He said that every high school teacher should be required to watch it.

Natsthename said...

Alison, that was simply beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing your history with John.

Mike said...

Thanks, Alison. I really appreciate you sharing this story, and your conversational style of writing. I was a huge fan of John's films in the 80s. I remember my friends and I debating for hours which characters we saw ourselves as vs. the way others saw us. I thought I was Ferris - they thought I was Cameron.

I've been lax in my own writing recently and this has inspired me to get back to doing what I love!

Cheers!

Mini Me said...

Truly amazing post. Thank you for sharing. I'm sorry for your loss.

Eliza said...

That's a great story. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Really quite wonderful. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

The fug girls tweeted a link to this on twitter.

I just can't thank you enough for sharing this. It's an incredible story.

Elaine said...

This is an amazing story. Thank you so much for sharing.

Lindsey said...

WOW, amazing! What a wonderful tribute to your friend...what an amazing man!

{ Lindsey }
http://greatfullday.blogspot.com

Riz Lez said...

Wow what an amazing story. We will miss Mr. Hughes!

Gina Black said...

Thanks for sharing this with us. I'm so glad you were there for each other.

Suzette said...

What an amazing post- I"m so glad you shared it. I can completely relate to the bond you two had. I'm sorry for the loss of your friend.

Ann Aguirre said...

This post was so incredibly touching. We lost a great man yesterday.

Aliens said...

You are one lucky person to have had an amazing man like that in your life. The most important thing for young people is someone to listen, to believe and to give them hope. What John gave you was an incredible gift that I'm sure you will treasure for life.

Thank you for sharing your story with us.

sam@otrib said...

I'm glad the two of you came to know each other (and that you shared the experience). Very touching.

Robert E Hunt Jr said...

Thanks, Alison.

John Hughes's films will last forever. They are *that* good.

He will be missed.

minilunch said...

wow!
that was beautiful! just started crying in the middle of the office and no one understood

mendozy said...

Hi,

I was directed to this post in an email from a friend and it was the gentlest way possible to learn this sad news, which I somehow managed to miss today. John Hughes, as for so many, was a huge part of my teens - and I was a teenager in the nineties, and in Dublin, Ireland.

I've had my notions about so many of my heroes trampled on as an adult when I discovered via various avenues that they weren't the lovely or good people I always imagined them to be. A relief to see, from your experiences with him, that he was truly rockin'. Long Live da Hughes.

'Why do you need fake ID?'
'So I can vote!'

Anonymous said...

An awesome story told and a beautiful way of presenting it. I hope more people get a chance to come here and read this. I'll be sure to pass it around the aggregators.

Thanks so much for sharing this.

Phayder said...

Allison, what a great story. I knew that John Hughes was a great filmmaker, but now I know he was a great human being as well. Thank you for this wonderful story.

Anonymous said...

I'm 42... and grew up with John's films. I'm filled with many emotions as I read your blog. Thank you for sharing this most amazing experience with the world. Take care and God Bless.

Kate Burton said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. I'm 41 years old and was crying when I heard of Mr. Hughes passing last night. I guess I always hoped he'd come back and show me how to be an adult, like he showed me it was okay to be myself as teenager.

Thanks again!

Kipp Bodnar said...

Wow. Thank you for writing this. This was amazing and inspiring.

Mary F said...

If you could read the 2 hour conversation a group of us have had on FB you'd be proud. One of them posted this link for us to read. I loved his movies and was sad to hear he passed but thank you for helping us understand him a little more and why he left Hollywood. I love to write but doubt I'd ever get published, so you keep the words going for those of us that love to dream! :-)

superdeluxe said...

Wow I love this.

How wonderful it must have been to have this kind of connection to the man.

John said...

Alison, Thank you very much for this post. I had a similar experience with another "famous" person and treasured it very much.

You interaction with Mr. Hughes was amazing and ordinary at the same time because it took place on a truly human level.

When I was young, my mother told me that if I had something to say that I should write a letter. Doing this changed my life, and it's clear that doing this changed your life as well.

Thank you for sharing this story with us. My thoughts and prayers are with you and with the family of Mr. Hughes

Odelia said...

Thank you for sharing, i cryed with you :-(
Odelia
Israel

Damien said...

You lovely, lovely person, thanks for posting this.

Tiffany said...

Thank you for writing this. I love his movies and while I'm sad beyond words he's gone, I'm thrilled to know he was a genuine human being who took the time to listen to the teenagers he wrote about.

@sethgray said...

this is a great post. It's always awesome to hear honest stories about talented people who also happen to be decent human beings. thanks for sharing.

Merrill said...

Dear Alison,
I too was really sad to hear the news of John Hughes's death.
Your blog post is amazing. Thank you for sharing it.

Leigh Lemon said...

Wow, I have cold chills and teary eyes reading this. I think everyone of a certain age feels a connection with John Hughes (an honest one), but you had a personal connection to a man that sounds like an incredible person and not just "the guy who made those great 80s movies". Thank you for sharing this with us.

Chessa! said...

Thank you for sharing this. I'm so moved by your words.

Vivi Anna said...

Thank you Alison for opening up your heart and sharing this story.

John Hughes had an impact on a lot of people, people he never knew or would never know.

You've been blessed that you were able to be a part of his life.

my sympathies for your loss

Bewareoftheblog said...

Thank you SO MUCH for sharing these stories and for so eloquently putting a personal touch on who John Hughes really was. It comforts me to know he was such a down-to-earth person, and committed to his fans.

By the way, I've done a new mix MP3 with some of the best songs and soundbytes from the movies of John Hughes. You'll find it downloadable on iTunes here FREE... http://bit.ly/HpfCi

Or you can get it from my podcast website at bewareofthebabylon.com

AGMAC said...

A great father. A great man. This story is so touching, it made me cry. I was lucky enough to grow up in the era when teenage movies meant something.

Andie said...

Hi Alison,

This entry really brought a great light to John Hughes' legacy. He touched so many people, but you are truly a fantastic example.

Thanks for sharing your story, I'm sure you'll never forget what a wonderful man he was.

-Andie

B.o.B. said...

Thank you! Really, thank you so much for sharing this. It proves that "hollywood" types are real people. And he was a "real" good person. I love hearing about how he listened and really wrote for his audience. Again, thank. Amazing post.

Pamela said...

Allison,
Thank you so much for sharing such a lovely story about how this amazingly brilliant yet modest and understated man touched your life. The agony and trials of my teen-dom were eased by the Brat Pack movies. I could watch them and truly believe that SOMEONE understood my angst. I loved John Hughes by the ending credits of The Breakfast Club because he GOT IT! He looked into the soul of my generation and educated the world. He is forever in my heart and will be forever immortalized by the legacy of his work. A very sad day...

Simon Oram said...

Alison,

Here in the UK last night a tv channel was showing the Kevin Smith flick Dogma, When it got to the bit where Jay explains that they were headed to Shermer Illinois, I thought to myself that I hadn't watched a John Hughes movie in a long time, so I put on Sixteen Candles!

I then proceeded to wake up at 3 in the morning (I never wake up in the night!) turned on the tv to the BBC News channel, to hear the tragic nws that Mr John Hughes had died.

This very emotional and personal experience that you have been kind enough to share with us is stunning and extremely moving.

Just goes to show that nice guys do exist in Hollywood.

Thank you so much for sharing.

Regards

Simon

Matt said...

What a wonderful story! I was saddened by the loss of Mr. Hughes having been such a fan of his work since my childhood all the way to this very day at the age of thirty-something.

Thank you so much for sharing this story. It has made me appreciate the man all the more.

Dandara said...

John Hughes' movies really made me happier in my teen years. Your story made me cry, thank you so much for sharing it.

Work With What You've Got said...

Thank you so much for sharing.

Eagle Dawg said...

Alison, it takes courage to tell this story of your friend the way you have. I am grateful you did even in the midst of pain because it is amazing to know John Hughes really did get us in the 80s, that it wasn't all an act for a script that would sell well. I value your words more than whatever any media outlet says about him because by your writing I know you're speaking from the heart. Thank you so much sharing them.

Bright Idea said...

Thanks for sharing. I hope your English teacher appreciates this!

Mike Wood said...

He was a great director and from what I can tell a great human being - what director takes the time to write like that? :)

Breakfast club, and Ferris were the movies I grew up with and can still watch these days and think about my own teen angst. He captured that so well, in part I am sure, by listening to people such as your self. The people who mattered.

Those letters were really moving and touched me. Thank you very much for sharing them.

BeOhBe said...

It's really great to know that John Hughes was genuine and not some cynical, crass exploiter. His movies had such an impact on our generation and we all loved him for it. Because of his art he will live on forever, because of what you have shared his art will be even more meaningful to so many more fans.

Thank you

Meaghan said...

This just made my day. Thank you very much and I'm sorry for your loss. You were blessed in a way few people are.

die Frau said...

Alison,

This was amazing. I'm sure others put this too, but quite obviously your letters meant as much to him as his did to you. Thank you for sharing this and for making me want to write letters again. You can treasure those the way you can't quite treasure an e-mail.

I hope you're OK. So many of us will miss him, but this must be very hard for you. Sending a smile your way.

Kathryn said...

Love this!
Love that he was so cool to be your pen pal.
"What about Prom, Blaine? What about Prom??"
How I loved Andrew McCarthy in that movie.

Film Festival Bob said...

This is the best kind of viral story, and why I love the internet. How people can bond over someone.

And speaking of bonding, just like practically everyone commenting, this got me all verklempt. When 2 strangers can be bonded...always a great touching story.

And therefore, dare I suggest ironically this could be a good movie? Whether it be a documentary, or even a narrative, in tribute the actors from his films could take part.

"Don't You...Forget About Me...." Indeed.

Rebecca said...

This was really wonderful, thank you so much for sharing!

Wildhair said...

He really was in touch with "us" through you, Alison. This was amazing to read. Thank you for sharing a side of Mr. Hughes that we all felt we knew. The letters most certainly signify that he really did get what "we" were about and what we wanted to say.

this post has me weeping once again.

Megan said...

I was a bit late for the John Hughes generation, but with a much older sister, I ended up loving his films more than most my own age. He conveyed such understanding and light in his movies, it is not surprising that he was such a wonderful man in his personal life as well.

Thank you so much for sharing. It is a gift.

spielster said...

Alison,

Its stories like this that make me sad I never had the pleasure of meeting the man who had such an undeniable impact on the person I am today.

He sounds like a wonderful listener and a great supporter, to things most of us yearn for during our teenage years. Sadly, Hollywood didn't lose him, but generations of people did. I am so happy you decided to share this story with all of us and that you were able to experience Hughes on this level.

Carole said...

Alison ... I am not young but I watched how my girls related to his movies and I was sure to watch them with them ... it was our bridge between generations and the music was just great!
Here is what I think you should do darling girl ... YOU write a movie about your being pen pals and what Hollywood did to John Candy (I knew him slightly when he lived in Toronto) and John's very courageous and well thought out decision to leave the crazies behind.
What a guy. Just look at hollywood today with the crazies in charge ... You go girl! I would do anything to support your doing this ... I mean it.

Kate Black said...

Alison, that was the sweetest memorial for Hughes that I've read yet.


I'm a big fan of his writing, and sorry that I never took it upon myself to let him know. Good for you that you did.

Anonymous said...

This is an amazing story!! I heard about it via Facebook so I'm sure you'll have thousands of readers very soon! Thanks for sharing.

Plastician said...

Amazing. I don't know what else to say that hasn't already been said.

Thank you

Paula said...

Beautiful. We lost a part of our childhood, you lost a friend. I am sorry.

I'm a child of the 80s and John Hughes made my awkwardness seem normal.

We can make a difference, I'm glad you two had a chance to make a difference in each others lives.

Jessica said...

Go Alison - you witty and provocable teenager who didn't the man get her down and instead made him her pen pal...- the friendship forged with John Hughes is sweet and admirable...

Darragh said...

That is simply one of the best stories, the most wonderful accounts and the best blog posts I have ever read. Thank you so much for sharing. It must have been difficult but well done.

Joya said...

Wow. Amazing.... truly inspiring to read. He will be missed in Hollywood. Thank you so much for sharing this.

Whit said...

Alison, thank you for sharing this. What a wonderful tribute to a very special man. RIP John Hughes.

Kasey said...

what a beautiful letter.
I am so glad i stumbled here.
xo

Gorillamydreamz said...

Thanks for this. I have been talking with people about Hughes' skill as a director and how he was able to create humanistic comedy and skillful slapstick through framing the scene editing , music and great trust in is characters and the people who performed them.

Then we talked about how wonderful it was that he was able to turn away form Hollywood and live life on his terms, despite being denied more of his brilliant work.

Now, having read your moving tribute, it all connects for me how such a human, observant and caring man was able to keep his focus on what's good about living, both in his films and in his own life.

You've made John Hughes come alive for me and I hope all those of us who had a mentor or perhaps never found one, can still strive to be one for others.

shannon said...

Dear Alison,
Thank you so much for sharing your personal relationship with John Hughes.

It brings tears to my eyes as a mother and as the teenager still hidden in me. thank you.
Shannon

Scott Brown said...

Wonderful wonderful post. Found it on my twitter feed this morning and put a link to it in my myspace.

As we all grieve his loss, I feel my condolences aren't enough for you.

Bryan said...

Amazing story, thank you for posting.

Kelly said...

I agree - this would make an amazing movie and I would totally watch. Who needs Julie & Julia when we could have Alison & John?

herself said...

I agree that this would make an amazing book. If you're not up to it, well, thanks for an amazing blog post.

If you'd like to make it a book but feel like you need some help here and there, try to find a good developmental editor: someone who loves unsticking you when you are stuck. I did that for a friend of mine, and she did finish her fictional novel.

I don't mean to focus on your form more than your content. Your experiences and writing are heartfelt and amazing. Thanks for building such loving and vivid images in our hearts and minds. You've written an excellent tribute for your friend.

Virginie said...

Dear Alison,
Thank you for sharing this with us all. I envy you. He seemed like a great man.
Sincerely,
Virginie

v. said...

thank you allison...

Ray said...

I’m very happy for you. That you’re able to share your joy, your pain and your story ... I’m confident John is smiling and taking this all in. A heartwarming, touching story that I’ll be reminded of when I watch Ferris’ Day Off for the 100th time.

Anonymous said...

Allison, Thank you so much for sharing your story and also for being persistent in seeking John Hughes as a pen pal! I don't know either of you (obviously), but this has made my day that much more special! Thank you!!!

I LOVED his movies growing up and I still do. They're like a little treasure and capsule in time. While I am sad we weren't able to enjoy more of his creativity when he left Hollywood, it's understandable and adds just that much more significance to his body of work.

God bless you and may John Hughes rest in peace.

Jeff Maher said...

Thank you for posting this, Alison, and for sharing a side of John Hughes that we never got to see. It's great to know that he had his core audience in mind when he was doing his movies.

It makes his passing all the more sad.

wren said...

I was one of the many who got through the angst of high school with the help of Hughes' movies. I still quote them regularly 20+ years later.

Thank you for sharing your experiences with him. It truly shows a side of him we'd have never known.

Jenny said...

well this just brought tears to my eyes. He affected all of us more than anyone will know.

Kimberly said...

Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful letter.

Brandi Ann said...

Alison,

His movies were always my favorites and I still bop in one of his dvd's from time to time just to laugh and remember my youth. Reading your story brought tears to my eyes and made me love him more. Thank you!

Much appreciated,
Brandi

Madeline Aspen said...

Dear Allison,

You have made my day, and I was having a pretty excellent one already. Beautiful story of a beautiful friendship. Wow.

Thank you,
Justine

Kiwimommy said...

What a gift, from him to you - and from you to us. Thank you for sharing on this day.

Starrlight said...

Thank you for sharing this. John meant a lot to a lot of us.

Anonymous said...

Wow. This is the most insightful, relevant appreciation of Hughes that I've read. And I've read plenty about the man, as he was one of my primary influences (speaking as a writer who has been bouncing around the periphery of Hollywood for 15 years).

I hope this blog gets picked up by a major news outlet because (assuming it's real) it is a wonderful story.

Time Machine Rental Guy said...

Thanks for sharing! Love the story!

Anonymous said...

What an awesome experience for you! John Hughes was I think the only person who understood me without even knowing me. His movies defined my youth...what a tribute your blog post is to him!

GREENWICH LETTERPRESS said...

I am so touched by this and it's wonderful to know that John Hughes was not only an original talent, but a truly kind person.

Thank you for sharing.

DavidStoddard said...

This is the power we as writers can have. Mr. Hughes understood and did not want what he had created to be torn apart by anyone. Much less Hollywood.

Your blog post brings an even more human view of him, of his willingness to reach out to his audience. And this was before Twitter and blogs and Facebook and MySpace. This was hand written love back and forth.

Much respect to you and to him. Thank you for sharing.

SpecialGirlAz said...

Cannot even begin to say just how much I enjoy of JH's works.
Sharing your letters and communications was very thoughtful and gives us even more insight to the person he was.
Thank you

Anonymous said...

love doesn't die. people do.


godbless you, my dear.

Anonymous said...

Alison,
Your letter is one of the things that you stumble upon and hits you where it counts. Interesting that you've been able to, on John's behalf, touch peoples lives one more time . Those movies were a huge part of growing up for myself and of course millions of teenagers around the world. We'll all miss the man. You've given us a great goodbye opportunity with your story. Thanks.
S Creamer

Buckin said...

Thank you for sharing with us what a wonderful person he was. This is a tribute that He would be proud of for himself and for you. A true honor for an honorable man.

Chris Giblin said...

You have made me care for a man I never really gave much thought and only ever knew from a distance.

Where I had once thought him to be "one of those Hollywood types", I know him to have been a remarkably warm and loving man.

Thank you. I truly am sorry to see him go.

Samtagious! said...

My entire youth just flashed before my eyes. I had fantasized for all of these years that the man who made these iconic films really did understand me and that he somehow knew my secret heart. I was far too shy to have written but you had the courage and I truly believe that you spoke for millions of us. I thank you for showing me that he was as wonderful as I'd dreamed and then some.

Godspeed Mr Hughes, ans Alison--I know in my gut that wherever John is now--he is still with you, with all of us, and always will be. He is the kind that never ever truly dies.

Coco said...

Thank you Alison - not just for writing this beautiful tribute, but especially for writing your second letter to him. Your acts of bravery and passion have affected us all.

Edith said...

Thank you for sharing this extraordinary story.

"Heavy" B said...

Dear Alison,

This story moved me. Thank you so much for posting it, it makes complete sense that John Hughes was the kind of guy who would strike up a pen pal correspondance with a teenage fan...he will be missed by so many of us! My most heart felt condolences to you.

Sincerely,

Barrett -B-

Schmutzie said...

You are being featured on Five Star Friday!
http://www.fivestarfriday.com/2009/08/five-star-fridays-edition-65.html

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