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.

1,414 comments:

1 – 200 of 1414   Newer›   Newest»
Katrin Verclas said...

Dearest Alison, I do not know who John Hughes was. I did not grow up here. But I was a teenager once and your letter to him made me cry. For the teenager I was and for the teenager my daughter is, and for the strength I needed and she needs to make it through that. And I wish I had a John Hughes and I wish that she will. And I love you for the spunk and will you have - maybe, a little bit, because of John Hughes.

kristen said...

I'm sad for you today, but glad you shared this at last. What a great man. Though his movies were a tremendous gift to the world, I think he made the right decision to enjoy life and take a step back. There's some comfort in knowing he was where he wanted to be, focused on the right things, and setting a good example for others, especially for those he loved.

Bob M. said...

Holy shit.

This is maybe the greatest thing I've ever read.

Richard said...

Amazing. Thanks for writing this and sharing this and thanks to your adolescent self for sustaining her end of such an amazing correspondence. It's fantastic to have been let into her/your/his world like this.

Melissa said...

I just cried at the beauty of your piece and your relationship. what a tribute to a man who will be terribly missed.

Susan Isaacs said...

Oh my goodness. Thank you Alison. I worked with John Hughes in "Planes Trains & Automobiles." I played John Candy's wife. I started off as just a photo. But I sent fake letters to Del c/o the production. They loved it, so they had me on the set and we filmed some scenes. In the end the scenes were cut. But John seemed to appreciate my creativity.

Your post is just such a tribute. What a mensch. What a loss. For all of us. Thanks for sharing this story

Kelly said...

I love your story. It's so hopeful. That we really can matter to someone. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing that.

City Girl said...

Oh Alison, what a loss for you. I'm so sorry. How fortunate you were to have a mentor and someone to validate your life. It's so poignant to know that you were to see teenage life played out on the screen and know you may have had some influence.

It's obvious what a kind heart John Hughes had. It comes across so well in his films and now to be let in on such a unique personal glimpse is fortunate for me.

Yes, you should write more. You have a talent for it. John was right.

MaryEllen Anderson
citygirlgvl

Joe said...

Wow! What an amazing story. It answers a lot of questions that I have had about John Hughes and why he hadn't been heard from much in the past few years.

It's nice to know that behind those films that meant so much to us was an actual human being who wasn't afraid to be one. It says a lot that he not only wrote to you, but that he left Hollywood in order to remain human.

And I agree with the previous comment(s). Keep writing!

Audrey said...

How fortunate to get to know someone "on the other side", especially as a teenager. Who didn't idolize those 80's teen movies? And you got to have that personal time with him for two years. Amazing! How exciting that must have been to open that mailbox with a letter from JohN Hughes! What a remarkable man to humble himself to take the time to write to an "ordinary" teenager. Not only a great story you have shared, but you also show that persistency pays off. Thank you for sharing a side of him that none of us got to see.

anonie.moose said...

I can't think of a better tribute to John Hughes than your post. Thank you so much for sharing!!!

Lisa said...

I grew up with all of his movies.
This is a truly beautiful story you tell.

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

That IS so freakin awesome you and John Hughes were pen pals for a while :-)

I am so sad by the news of his death...RIP

HJArmstrong said...

Allison,

I'm so sorry for the loss of your mentor and friend. This was amazing to read and, I believe, the best possible tribute to give to, not John Hughes the director, producer and writer, but John Hughes the kind, understanding and encouraging man.

I echo the sentiment above that you are a fantastic writer!

Lou said...

Wow, what a fantastic story, you always wonder what people are like in real life. I'm glad he was a nice person.

My thoughts are with you, just remember he's going to live on for ever as some of his films are iconic.

Lou said...

Wow, what a fantastic story, you always wonder what people are like in real life. I'm glad he was a nice person.

My thoughts are with you, just remember he's going to live on for ever as some of his films are iconic.

Joseph Simmons said...

Thanks for the post. It was beautiful.

RIP, John Hughes.

Brittney said...

I heard the news of John Hughes death and was not moved. I was never touched by one of his movies in a profound way, and to me it was just another celebrity death.

You have just changed all that for me. I now have a connection to this man, and it is through you. I am so sorry for your loss, but this is an amazing story, and I thank you for sharing it with us.

vikkikaran said...

Thank you, so much, for sharing this. It brought tears to my eyes, just like a good John Hughes film.

oshareneko said...

Wonderful post. Thank you so much for sharing this.

Sarah T. said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I have been grieving ever since I found out. I cannot believe you got to share so much with the man who made some of my absolute favorite movies. John will definitely be missed, more than he would ever know.

Brandon Jerwa said...

I really want to thank you for sharing this wonderfully touching story. As a professional writer who counts John Hughes as one of his major influences, I can honestly say that the news of his passing was a surprisingly emotional event for me. He will be missed by so many...

...but I hope remembered as fondly as this by so many more.

Thank you.

B

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing. -gabrielle thomas

Danny said...

Thank you, Allison.

You're going to get a lot a comments here before the weekend is over, so this won't matter much in the grand scheme but...

Nice.

Humanizing.

Smart.

Sad.

Funny.

Thank you for writing this up. Thank you from everyone who ever connected -- on whatever level -- to a John Hughes movie or to Mr. Hughes himself.

And thank you from fandom, no matter its stripes. This is an exemplary story in being a fan and an absolute must read. This is freebase fandom and I can't imagine it any other way.

Thank you.

GirlBug said...

Thank you Alison. His films were very special to me and I'm so glad you shared this with us.

Jonn said...

Thank you for sharing your own personal relationship with a man whose movies helped me define myself when I was a teenager. He introduced me to Ferris Bueller who taught me to enjoy life and to Duckie who I was more like than I cared to realize until I was in my twenties. Thank you, Alison for showing us a little bit of the man who gave me a hero and ultimately helped me know myself through his art.

Donna said...

I got to here by accident and ended up re-read your story 3 times. thank you for sharing this remarkable story.

BWJones said...

Wow.... Thanks. No seriously, thanks. His movies were absolutely inspiring at the time and somehow always stuck with me.

tabitha said...

Thank you for letting us share in your cherished memories of John Hughes. I certainly felt a loss in his demise, but wasn't emotionally touched in any way until I read your post. It made me cry and smile all at once. Thank you.

Matthew said...

Putting on my lifetime to-do list: befriend an excellent eulogizer.

Thank you for sharing this.

stuart said...

Reading this has made my afternoon.

Thanks so much for sharing this.

Little Kiwi said...

Thank you for sharing that!
I, admittedly, teared up today.
Thank You, John Hughes, for never forgetting what it felt like to be a teenager.

Lysa Provencio said...

Thank you.

Sky Bluesky said...

Thank you for sharing this amazing story. We all had a piece of him through his movies, and it's so gratifying to see that the man was as sincere and kind and heartfelt as we all wished he was.

My condolences for your loss - for our loss. But we are all better off for the glimpse you've given us of the real John Hughes.

You should definitely write more. I'll come back to read it, I promise.

Peter Helff said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I didn't know the man, but I lived his message.

Molly Block (@mollyblock) said...

Thank you, Alison, for sharing -- so beautifully -- your inspiring and poignant story.

Bee said...

That was one of the most beautiful posts I've ever read.

Michael Berry said...

Thank you for sharing this in your time of grief. It's quite marvelous. You have my condolences.

I sometimes wondered why Hughes left Hollywood. It sounds like he may have done so for exactly the right reasons.

Joanna said...

Hi Alison, I came across your post about the amazing John Hughes via Stumble, and couldn't be happier that I did...
Wow.
What an amazing life experience to have had and to be able to write so brilliantly about. You inspired a great individual who was inspiring you.... Amazing, huh?
Thanks for sharing this, truly.

califmom said...

Thank you for sharing such a beautiful part of a man who was influential in so many of our lives.

Vision said...

Wow..I'm so glad i stumble upon this little gem. Thank you for making my day a little brighter. Much Love.

isy said...

thank you for sharing this. it made me cry.

Carol Varney said...

Alison! Oh my! This is crazy! I got to your post via another site, read the entire post, was very moved by it (what with it CONFIRMING everything I thought about John Hughes and all) then there, at the end, was your name! And I thought "It is Alison Byrne Fields! I know her! I never knew she had this relationship with John Hughes!". Thank you for sharing this. It's just awesome.

Cheryl said...

Found your post through a tumblr posting and it was truly a great read. I think people forget how words can really connect people. It seems so disposable nowadays with tweets and texting.

You reminded us that they still mean something. You both did.

Thank you for sharing.

@lacouvee said...

Allison - virtual hugs to you at this time of personal sorrow.

Found your blog link on Twitter. I'm not well acquainted with John Hughes films but his humanity shines through your post.

What a gift you shared.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Just wonderful, Alison, wonderful.

Peggy G. Zherdev said...

Alison,

Thank you for sharing. What a truly unique and wonderful experience and I do hope you continue to write!

Rest in peace John...every time I watch one of your movies, I will think of you.

~Peggy

Joanne said...

As someone who grew up watching John Hughes' movies and relating (especially to Alison in The Breakfast Club) this is the most wonderful tribute to a man who truly was taken too soon. Thank you for sharing it.

Jennifer J. said...

As someone who also cried and cried (and is crying now) thank you for thinking of all of us and of John Hughes at a time when you could have only been thinking of your loss. Thank you for being selfless and thoughtful and kind...for sharing this intimate relationship with us. I'm truly touched.

Thank you.

Yvonne Adele said...

Wow, Alison.. thank you so much for sharing!

Your story reminds me of a wonderful Australian movie I recently saw on an international flight, made by the genius Adam Elliot called Mary and Max. It has the same sentiment as your relationship with John.

I know you will love it.
http://www.sbs.com.au/films/movie/3080/Mary-and-Max

(ps. i am not connected with the movie.. you just made me think of it)

Cinerina said...

That is so beautiful. You are so lucky to have not only gotten to share your life with someone who then was able to share it right back at you, but also who wasn't a typical Hollywood wanker. We were lucky to grow up under his tutlage, so to speak, and you even more so.
Thank you for sharing this lovely story and I am very sorry for all our loss, but your personal one especially.

far out brussel sprout said...

thank you for sharing this amazing story. what a priceless relationship.

sarahfisch said...

Perfection. Bless you, Alison.

Ben said...

Thank you, that was beautiful.

Janefilms said...

ah beautiful. I'm not even sure how I got here but am glad I got a chance to read this wonderful tribute.

his films were amazing, and interestingly - have totally held up after all of these years. I recently caught some of pretty in pink and just found it enchanting.

god bless his family, they lost him way too young.

Cait said...

Thank you so much for this. His work has meant so much to me personally and professionally, and it's really comforting to hear that he was as wonderful a person as he was a filmmaker. All the best to you.

deltamagnet said...

Thanks for sharing your memories! At the time of "Breakfast Club" there was no culture that dealt with teen emotion intelligently. Packages and phone calls and word-of-mouth endorsements were the ways young people shared information. It is so different now! I'm glad John Hughes was a bridge for me from that time to this.

Miss Mayberry said...

What a treasure. I'm sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing. This was beautiful.

DFS said...

Wow, what a great story. I'm sorry you lost your friend today, and thank you for sharing it.

Richard Sambrook said...

great, heartwarming, post....thanks...

Katcal said...

Thank you for sharing such an amazing and heart-warming story. It's always good to remember that the names we see in articles are actually real people who had real lives and people who cared about them for what they were and not the length of their IMDB page. All the best.

BrendoMan said...

Thank you so much for posting this. You've seriously answered some questions I've asked myself about John for over half my life. He will be missed.

Scottie said...

Great Blog Alison.
Thanks for Sharing!!!

Ros said...

This is a beautiful story and so very moving. What a lovely, lovely man. x

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing your penpal experience with John Hughes. What a wonderful human he was! All his movies reflected his humanity. One of my favs. was PRETTY IN PINK! And, DO keep writing!

Ann4mation said...

Alison, thanks for a great memoir of your friendship with John Hughes. I had no idea he had died until I followed this link from a friend's fb, and learned about his death from your post -- your writing made me cry, both from sadness for your loss and for everyone's, but also from the sweetness of your memories and my own of what the films meant to me, growing up.

Thanks again, and keep writing it all down -- you've got a way with words and you've made your memories meaningful to a whole world full of friends connected by someone who made our lives richer.

-GN

DaveMedlo said...

I read this not knowing he had died - and damn near bawled my eyes out at the end. Thank you for an amazing article.

Charlie said...

Such a great eulogy...

I have to think that Mr. Hughes is somewhere looking down, proud as hell. His movies influenced an entire generation, defined countless teens, and made many, many people happy.

But clearly his work INSPIRED you.

What more fitting of a legacy could their be? You were both very lucky to have connected. I'm jealous of hell... of you for having been involved with such talent, and of him, for actually having made a difference.

Beautiful post.

s. said...

Thank you for this blog post, Alison.

Kristen Hodges said...

I've been inspired by your story today to start a website featuring letters kids get from famous people because there's a certain charm in someone taking the time. I referred to your story quite a bit (with links back to your site of course) so I thought I should let you know. Hope that's ok with you! :-)

Kristen Hodges said...

oh and i forgot to say - the URL is http://lettersfromfamouspeople.com/ if you want to check it out...

John Flood said...

I too thank you for this post. I've seen a couple of his films and liked them. But also didn't think too much about him when I heard of his death, except we are the same age. So for me it was a young death.

I found your post moving, touching and humanizing in that you made the stereotypical Hollywood, cynical, hardbitten mover and shaker come alive with feelings of hope and doubt. RIP John Hughes.

Chris Wild said...

Thanks for sharing Alison...

Anisha said...

That is really special.

Richard said...

Amazing blog post. Thanks.

Philip said...

What a lovely story.
John Hughes was a massive influence on our generation, even all the way over here in England. It was from him that I learned that wherever we live, underneath the superficial layers, we're all the same.
Today I feel sad for you and I feel sad for me too - a part of my childhood has gone.
So today, I shall do my best to reply to every question with a line from a John Hughes film.

And over the weekend, I shall do what my friends and I used to do whenever we were bored, or rained in or whatever. I'll make a big pot of tea, loads of hot buttered toast and sit down in front of Ferris, Weird Science, Breakfast Club, SKoW, 16 Candles, PiP and Planes and laugh my arse off. And then maybe wipe away the tears too.
Thanks for sharing your story Alison.

Rebeccah said...

Wow Alison!

I cannot tell you how much this story has lifted me up and restored my faith that people can be every bit as good as you hope they might be. I needed to hear about this. John Hughes created so much joy and fun and truth...it's so good to know it's because he listened - to real kids and to himself.

Claire said...

What an awesome post. What an awesome man.

Cxx

Simon said...

Hi Alison,

Your blog has me in tears.

I am one of the many that has found so much magic in John's work, especially Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I am a relatively successful music producer here in the UK, and the soul of his films is something I have always tried to inject into my own work; optimism, sadness, beauty, hope, and even comedy.

Thank you for sharing your unique perspective on a man who shaped the 80's. It is quite clear from his films that he was a fantastic human being, and I am delighted and grateful that you clarified and confirmed this.

Rest in Peace John, and thank you Alison.

Simon Mills

lilcals said...

What a great story. I wrote to a friend who moved away for about 5 years and it made us even closer than we were when she was here. Writing letters is really therapeutic, like writing a diary (I could tell her secrets I wouldn't tell people at school). They're also SO exciting to receive. I miss letters!

Anonymous said...

Alison, thank you for sharing your story, and so eloquently too! You have given a great tribute to John Hughes and you have inspired me - to write, and to watch his films again. I remember seeing Breakfast Club seven times in the theatre when it came out, and singing along with Ferris. (Thanks for bringing back such great memories!)


He really captured something magical and real in his films, and you really captured something magical and real about life and human beings in your story of your pen-pal relationship with him.

Much appreciation to you and looking forward to reading more of your writing! :-)

- Melissa

Rog said...

Fantastic story, very moving.

Would it be crass to suggest it would make a beautiful book one day?

Anonymous said...

I thought it'd make a wonderful story too. Lovely post.

Dark Rose said...

Hi Alison

I really loved your post. I myself I'm crying because his movies meant a lot to me too; it's like a part of me, of my childhood and teeange that's gone forever. You were blessed to have met him as you did, and I can echo the other comments, and tell you that you should take his words, and write. Write. The talent, you have it. Just get it out.

Nice post, again. RIP, John.

Magnus said...

Hi Alison,
thank you for sharing your story and that of John. Stories like these must be told, and you did so with the living care it deserves.

Thank you. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

wow,
that was very touching and a fine tribute to John Hughes.
I loved his films and was very sad to see he had died.
Thankyou for sharing this insight into this kind and generous man.

Angela Montague said...

Thank you for sharing these wonderful letters. I always loved his films, and now have even more respect for him.

gregory said...

Made a sad day a little brighter.
Cheers.
G

Anonymous said...

It is as though John followed his own motto - "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

When John looked around I'm glad he found you, Alison. Thank you for grieving this way. Those of us who never met John felt connected him through the stories he told on screen but this post just made everyone that much closer.

Thank you.

Mike said...

Beautiful, Alison.

May we all find inside of us our own John Hughes and freely share it with the world.

That would definitely take things up a notch. :-)

Thank you for sharing this!

Anna Nio said...

That was simply beautiful, thank you for sharing. I never knew him personally, but have loved his high school-movies for a long time, and will continue to do so forever.

Peter Hodgson said...

Wow, thanks for sharing that with us. I too have been lucky to meet and converse with some of the people who helped me get through my teenage years but nothing as profound as this. Thanks!

Jayne said...

What a wonderful tribute. I just came here via an online article in The Guardian that mentioned you (http://tiny.cc/1ekO1) and have just finished reading your words with tears in my eyes. As, in a way, your correspondance with John Hughes speaks for all of us, and it is so nice that he took the time to listen, and reply. I am sure he took great pleasure from being your pen pal as you had being his, and thank you so much for sharing this story.

snoozetska said...

Crying, too. Thank-you, Alison, for letting us in on this sweet, personal exchange.

John Hughes films touched me deeply, too. I'm glad he had you as a friend.

Lee

Paul said...

Very moving, and a remarkable story.

VamPus said...

This beautiful post is now being tweetet around the world - loving it from Norway - thank you!

Ms Naughty said...

Another thumbs up for sharing this - what a moving and inspiring story. It makes me think of all those times I'd wanted to communicate with a famous person; I feel almost envious that you got to do it. But not only that, John Hughes replied with kindness, empathy and humanity. Beautiful.

nikki.syvret said...

Thank you, Alison; for cleaning out my tear ducts, and for making a hero of mine even more human.

Ingrid said...

What a beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing.

natalie said...

A wonderful read, it really made me well up. It's such a loss, it really is. How lovely that you can have these special memories of such a great man.

Amanda said...

Such a lovely story. :-)

Anonymous said...

What a fantastic tribute Alison. I live and grew up in England, and John Hughes films were just as relevant to my friends and I. Everyone I know who grew up in the 80's is devastated at Johns' sad passing, and I know that everything he did will leave a lasting impression on us all.

Joe said...

This was really great.
Thanks for more insight on this brilliant man.
I always pictured him to be exactly like how you portrayed him above..

Thanks

Afton said...

Lovely. Sweet. Important. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Keep writing, though, I'm sure he'd have loved that.

Liza. said...

Wow. This is simply beautiful; I've shared it with as many people as I could today. It's inspiring, it's beautiful, it's sad, it's sweet... and it's so very real.

I like everyone else in this generation, were touched by his movies. But not until reading this had I ever really been in inspired by the MAN behind the writer.

Thank you so very much for sharing this beautiful, cherished friendship with all of us.

marty21 said...

that was lovely.

agentninety9 said...

Wow. That was beautifully written. I was sad to hear of John Hughes passing because his films are a big part of the nostalgic days of my youth. He's iconic to me. But he's a friend of yours, and I'm sorry that you've lost him. Thank you for your post, it was lovely.

Amelia Vee said...

I'm sitting in my office trying to hide from my colleagues the fact that I'm welling up. That was very moving. There are a couple of us in my office who are planning on a ceremonial punching of the air as we walk out today. I'm sending the link to this round to them and no doubt they're going to be welling up too.
What a man.

Anonymous said...

What an amazing man... thank you for sharing your very special experience. It explains why John faded away. He put his family first and I am glad he had the time with them.
I can't imagine growing up without the brain, the athlete, the basket case, the princess and the criminal! The man was a genius!

Chuck said...

Thanks for sharing this amazing story. Like so many others, John Hughes movies helped me to understand myself as a teenager and young adult. It's nice to know that John Hughes was such a decent man.

This is a beautiful eulogy to him.

Emma said...

That was so amazing to read, thank you.

Kono said...

John Hughes was a prince among men. That story was effing beautiful. If you care to read more about how Mr. Hughes influenced us kids now adults you can read my post at Asshatlounge.blogspot.com and click the link for Toxic Monday where my friend in London wrote another tribute. A sad day for a lot of us.

Grog said...

Lovely post.

Andrew said...

We should all be so lucky to get a eulogy like this when we pass on to the next life.

fortunesfool73 said...

Thank you. One of the nicest things i've read in ages.

Michele Clarke said...

Sorry for your loss. Thank you for a beautiful post.

Joy said...

Thank you for sharing your memories. I love his films. They resonated with my very soul in high school. They warm my heart today. Sharing your personal relationship with him makes it clear why his films are so special and touched all of us 80s teens regardless of race, social-economic status, urban/ suburban, etc. He obviously loved you and through that I can see his love and compassion for youth and what we were experiencing. Thank you again for sharing your pieces of this wonderful man.

Paticus said...

What a fantastic,heart felt post. Thank you for sharing this.

Craig Burnett said...

This is one of the most moving things I've read in my 48 years...inspiring, sweet, and amazing...a true insight into the wonderful man John was.

I was especially struck by the line, "Think about the future once a day and keep doing what you're doing." Brilliant in its simplicity.

Allison, we've never met and we never will...but you've touched me and countless others today. You've inspired me to try to be to someone, what John was to you.

You are a very special lady.

Rebecca said...

Wow, I'm feeling such a mix of emotions after reading that. Beautiful post.

Someone Said said...

Beautiful, thank you.

derek said...

This was quite possibly the greatest story about John Hughes I have ever read. Thanks for sharing!

Lisa McGrath said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. He was such an icon to all of us. Your tribute and story are beautifully said. RIP John Hughes.

Anonymous said...

Alison
I think you've just made him proud again. :)

Damian said...

this is one of the most amazing things i've ever read.

i re-posted it on my Facebook page. i hope you don't mind.

Circus Kelli said...

That is really so very cool. Not just that you were 'courageous' enough to take the chance and write to him, but that he wrote back... and that he 'listened'.

I'm sorry for the loss of your friend.

Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

jekandhyd said...

There are a lot of tributes to John Hughes in the papers at the moment, but none could ever say as much about the man as yours does. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. This is a truly wonderful post

Mark said...

Thanks for expressing how our generation is feeling today, wonderful,wonderful piece of writing.

heather said...

Alison,

A wonderful tribute to a man that I feel every teenager growing up in the 80's (and later if they are watching) felt like they knew and understood because he did "get" us.

Wonderfully written!

magical_m said...

What an amazing, inspiring, touching post.

Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club were seminal movies of my teen years - as an outsider who never quite seemed to fit in, they made me feel that no matter what, it was ok to be different, to be me. John Hughes was a gifted, talented man who told our stories and showed what it was like to be a teenager in the 80s. His passing is such a loss for so many of us, and your story shows far more about the man than any newspaper article ever could.

Thank you so much for sharing it with us all.

sadock said...

Wow, I didn't think it was possible for me to have even MORE respect for John Hughes than I already did. Thank you for sharing, Alison. Nothing like a purging morning cry first thing in the morning. One of our great creators has been lost, and we are the poorer for it.

Gail said...

Wow, what an amazing, touching and inspiring story: the best eulogy John Hughes could have hoped for. Thank you!

Alyson said...

You've made him so real. Now it's not just that the director of some of the seminal movies of my lifetime has died, now he's real to me. Now he's a friend.

*teardrops*

Michael said...

I never knew John Hughes, but he spoke to me in many ways.
I envy that you knew him and I'm sorry that you've lost him.
Reading about your friendship was touching and moving.
Thank you.

dcgrrl said...

What a beautiful story. I sure hope the art of letter-writing doesn't get lost all together.
You are so lucky, and you have such chutzpah. You will go far. Thanks for sharing this!

James said...

Take consolation in the fact that you have shared something utterly unique with an utterly unique individual and can take with you through the rest of your life an experience that will never be repeated or tarnished.

Many thanks for writing this post. I can appreciate that given the circumstances it wasn't at all easy, and for finding the strength to do so so wonderfully, makes you an all-the-more remarkable person.

Ms Baroque said...

So many comments! Thanks for this inspirational piece. I've linked it, & I think both you and he sound pretty great.

Anonymous said...

Simply beautiful.

The Gift Therapist: Jennifer Melnick Carota said...

What a beautiful tribute...thank you much for sharing your very personal gift with us.

M. Mashraqi said...

Wow, thank you for sharing such a touching story.

daysgoby said...

Thank you. THANK YOU.

Valerie said...

A friend forwarded your blog to me and I sat at my desk at work and cried. Losing such a kind man with such talent is worth crying about. John Hughes had the ability to express the insecure, awkward teenager that is within all of us because he was empathetic, which is probably what drove him out of Hollywood. I really appreciate you sharing your memories of him with us, and you are not alone in your grief.

a. said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. I can't imagine growing up in the 80s and early 90s without John Hughes. He had an impact on more people than he will ever know.

Sarah M said...

All I can say is thank you for sharing xxx

Ty said...

That was tremendous; really, really touching and very well written. Thank you.

Coleen said...

It was the summer of 1987, and the only thing I wanted to be when I grew up was Molly Ringwald because Alex Cunningham said that I looked like her when my hair was just so. I still do want to be her sometimes. Rest in Peace, Mr. Hughes. And thank you so much for sharing your story, Alison.

Scott said...

Alison,
what a great piece of writing! I think that John Hughes is up there, looking down on you, and smiling greatly.

Rob B. said...

That's awesome - and refreshing. So many Hollywood types seem to forget that they are where they are because of their fans. I was in high school in the 80's and enjoyed most of John Hughes' films, sorry to hear he passed. It's a real loss when people like that pass on ... or as in Hughes' case leave Hollywood film making because of the negative impact that culture has on the people associated with it. RIP John Hughes.

Cat said...

That's amazing. You're so lucky for having that piece of him. He sounded a wonderful man. I love his films and was so astonished when he died yesterday. He was much too young. I'm not superstitious but I love the idea of he and John Candy being reunited.

Dani said...

Thank you for sharing this wonderfully written glimpse into the man who touched so many in so many different ways. Your heartfelt words underscore the impact his death has had on so many, much as his life and his work did.

CatrinkaS said...

Alison,

Thank you so much for this. It made me cry. I know what a mentor can do, what the attention from someone 'famous' who takes the time, and who values you for you, means - especially when you are very young and all possibility. And the loss - so public, with so many claiming a piece of it - is so much more yours.

Thank you, again, for sharing.

Fredrik said...

That was so beautifully written. It made me cry as well. It's weird but until he died I didn't realized how much he meant to me. But now I've spent the entire day thinking about him, reading up about him online, and writing about him. Thanks for sharing!

Tommy Salami said...

Thank you for sharing your letters with John. He took a lot of crap in his later years and it's obvious that he was being squeezed John Candy was. I'm glad he got out when he did. He died too soon, and I hope he got to spend the time with his sons that he wanted.

Amy said...

Wow. Thank you.

Meister said...

He is what I thought he was.

Thanks for letting me into there. You didn't have to.

Janet said...

This is an awesome, awesome story. Thank you for sharing your letters. From what I read, he was a decent man who cared about quality work. What you wrote only confirms that for me.

NomadRip said...

That was beautiful. I am glad you got to experience that and that you shared it now.

He helped shape my life as well. He was able to voice what we likely all felt growing up.

Karen said...

What a wonderful post about a brilliant man. How blessed you were to know him personally. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

Allison Root said...

This was a lovely and positive way to portray your friend. I own a few of his movies, that I love dearly, but many people my age find it more cool to find Hughes' films overrated and rip on them.
His films have become a staple of american popular culture for a very apparent reason.

Thank you for sharing your personal experience with John Huges. Most people would take his death as an opportunity to brag about corresponding with him, but you are genuine.

Brad said...

This was very touching and it moved me to tears. Thank you so much for such a loving tribute to a man that, as cliche as it sounds, truly did help define and give voice to an entire generation.

Bradley said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. I always hoped that this was the kind of man John Hughes was. He gave so many of us a voice...

Kristy said...

Written from the heart - a wonderful tribute. Thanks for sharing!

MissXu said...

what an awesome blog post. He somehow really managed to perfectly capture my childhood in suburbia. Thanks for sharing.

Beaweezil said...

Wow, thank you for taking the time for sharing this and I'm sorry for your loss of a friend.

Take care.

B

K-Town Girl said...

I'm guessing we're about the same age from your description. I loved John Hughes movies and always felt I had a bit of Molly Ringwald inside me! Thanks for sharing your story, and how blessed were both of you to be sharing during that critical time in your lives. It really brought tears to my eyes. We forget that "Hollywood" people are really just people after all, and this was beautiful.

Chris said...

There's so much nostalgia out here right now, not so much for John or the films, I don't think, as for the way the films made us feel when we were of that age, and a little vulnerable, and so happy to know that an adult (an adult!-- and one so gifted-- smart, funny, with such great taste in music :)) understood how we felt. Most of us, of course, were too cool to say thank you to him. I'm glad you did. I hope he knew you were speaking for millions. Based on what he said to you, I believe he did know. And that makes me feel better.

Anonymous said...

I fell upon this blog entry and was very moved my what you wrote. I think John would have been proud of you again.

Help Me, Harlan said...

Thank you for sharing this.

Tanarus said...

Thank you

I too found my way here via the Guardian, and I'll admit I clicked the link with a degree of trepidation as I normally find such memorial postings unbearably mawkish.

Yours moved me more than I, not having one tenth of your talent, can find words to express.

What a profoundly decent chap; I can't remember the last time I read of anything that so restored my faith in humanity.

Thanks Alison

And Thanks John

Jennifer said...

What a beautiful post. You made me cry. I cried for the long gone days of penpals (mine were the children's authors Vera and Bill Cleaver), for the wistfulness of teenagehood, and for a kind, talented man gone too soon.

Gail said...

I linked to you from my blog:

RIP John Hughes
http://www.worleygig.com/2009/08/rip-john-hughes/

best, Gail xo

gleek said...

thank you for sharing this! john was always portrayed as being such a nice guy and it's good to see that it's all true. he was a visionary and will be missed.

Tom said...

That's incredible, that's utterly incredible.

Just. Wow.

Thank you for that. Thanks.

Nick said...

This is absolutely incredible, what a sweet and truly wonderful man he was. I was greatly saddened last night when I heard about it, his work was incredible and Ferris Beuller's Day Off is still one of my favorite movies and one of the ones that made me fall in love with films as a kid.

It's amazing to here that he really did have the kindness and intelligence he showed in his work.

As others have said, thanks for sharing your story and our condolences on losing your friend.

Bunny Hightower said...

I once met a boy who knew as many lines from the Breakfast Club as I did. Last night this boy, now my husband, told me John Hughes passed away on the streets where I live. I was surprised by my tears and my feeling of loss. Just two weeks ago we were wondering what Mr. Hughes was up to. Like so many, his movies made me feel less alone. Thank you for sharing your story. I am so happy to know John Hughes was as pure and idealistic as his movies.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this story, I hope everyone see's it and realises that a single person can make a difference.

Darryl

sof49er said...

This blog post made my day. some day, publish those in a little book. So many of us 30 something's would find it so endearing.

thank you for sharing. I will miss his genius.

mimi said...

Fantastic story. I saw this because Paul Tompkins (PFTompkins) on twitter put a link to it.

Thanks!

Tony McFadden said...

Alison, this was beautiful. John Hughes will be missed, and your writing this will explain to many people why.

Anonymous said...

that is truly beautiful.

thanks.

Stonewall said...

Wow. I didn't think I'd almost cry at my desk on a Friday morning when I woke up today. It's fantastic to know John Hughes was as good a guy as I always hoped and imagined he was.

Simon said...

Thank you for that.

Tammy said...

Alison - what a wonderful tribute to John Hughes. It's obvious John's work inspired so many people and it's so comforting to find out just how real and good he was. Kudos to John for putting his family first and not letting Hollywood use him up. And congrats to you for sharing your story. Thank you so much!

Gina said...

Allison, thank you so much for shring this. I was in high school myself when all those iconic John Hughes movies came out, and I always felt that he really GOT what it was like for us at that age, in that time. It's so nice to see on top of all that, that he was also a kind and giving man.

Thanks again for sharing this.

Girlie-Queue said...

Damn Woman... you apparently were who I've always wanted to be. In as much as you not only wrote your first letter, but stuck to your guns when you didn't receive the answer you wanted. And what an amazing experience you received for your efforts. THanks so much for sharing this.

Damon said...

Thanks for sharing that great story. He was a true artist and will be sorely missed.

Anonymous said...

WoW! I just heard the news this morning and came across your article while searching for some more info on his passing. What a tender testament to a kind man. He would be proud of you still today. I am sending you and the Hughes family prayers of recovery and wishes of fond remembrance of the love he shared for his craft and his friends and family.

Peace,
TA

Karen said...

I just re-read your post, and when I got to the part about his calling you at the office, all I could think was ... "Ferris Bueller's on line 2." LOL!

I love this story, for so many reasons. My husband and I were pen pals after we first met in 1989--we didn't marry until 2004. I have been a John Hughes fan for decades as well. To say he will be missed is such a huge understatement. I posted a link to your post on my blog--hope you don't mind. Thanks again for sharing your heart.

Amy said...

Hi Alison- GREAT story. Thank you so much for sharing. Ride the viral wave, this blog post is going to get you wherever you want to go. How lucky you were to have John Hughes as a mentor! Thanks again.

Steve said...

I never comment on blogs any more, but this was too warm, moving and powerful to not just say thank you, Alison. I suspect we're close to the same age, and your blog post resonated with me in a way I find hard to explain. Much like John's best movies always did. Gawker is right - this is the best thing on the Web regarding this man and the very real warmth and humanity that gave life to his very best work.

Mr. T said...

What a great story. Thank you. Mr. Hughes had such an incredible impact on teens growing up in the 80s. It's good to know that he understood the impact he had. He will be missed.

Katie said...

Thank you so much for sharing.

Ed said...

What a great story. I came here via Metafilter and I am very glad I did. thanks for sharing.

beesquare1 said...

Alison,

What a wonderful tribute to your latter day pen pal – far more poignant than any canned obit could ever be. I loved his movies. They captured a sense of authenticity rarely seen on film, and after reading your blog, it’s easy to see why – his work was truly from the heart (but somehow, I guess we knew that). He spoke to a generation – (mine, in the 80’s) and continues to – my own daughters now love his movies too. He will be missed.

Noelle.

Greg said...

thanks for sharing, John Hughes understood us

Anonymous said...

Dear Alison,

I was in tears today when I heard about John's passing and I was in tears just now reading your post.

Such a wonderful story and I am so glad I got to read about it.

I met John once and told him about being told I was a terrible writer. I couldn't put two words together without someone telling me I was terrible at written English. But I had lots of great ideas.

I asked John what he did to push his way through the mess of writing something and he simply said to me "It doesn't matter if people don't like your work, so long as you are happy with it".

That meant so much to me, especially coming from him. He too had great ideas and was not only able to put them down on paper, but follow through and do something useful with them. He told me the hardest part about his job was being truthful to the characters but when he was it was so rewarding as it also meant he was being truthful to himself and that was very important to him.

It seems to me that the friendship you shared with John meant so to him as well as to you. It can be seen from your post the goodness found in his character and the strength he got from the friendship he had with you.

A wonderful man, a wonderful member of the film community - someone we can do with a lot more of.

I envy you your closeness to him and the friendship you had. I only spent 3 hours with him many years ago and feel like I have lost a good friend. I think you have. I know you have.

I feel for you and I am thinking about you tonight as well as John and his family and friends.

Peace be with you.

Derek Screen

Chris Heidel said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing this. I cried when Michael Landon, John Denver, and Jim Henson died. Now John Hughes. His movies portrayed a generation.

Flash said...

This was quite a heartfelt and moving piece. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with all of us.

Ami said...

Thank you for sharing this. I needed to be reminded today of the power of words.

best,
Ami

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