Welcome to the first Tuesday Timeline for the month of August 2013. And, let me tell you that for whatever reason, I'm really optimistic as we enter the second month of summer fun. For whatever reason, no matter what happens, I get the impression that the eighth month of the year is going to be one in which a lot of positive changes will happen. Mind you, I could be wrong and the feeling that I have might just be gas...but hey...you gotta keep positive, right? You kind of have to in order to stay sane in this wacky, crazy world of ours.
So for today's Tuesday Timeline, we're going to be hosting a celebration of sorts. Because even though August 6 was the day in which a life ended, the legacy this person left behind is still being celebrated today. And, I'll give you a little bit of a hint before we launch into the Tuesday Timeline. This person is linked to last week's Monday Matinee. I'll let you put your thinking caps on as we proceed with the events of August 6 throughout history.
1538 – Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada founds the city of Bogota, Colombia
1661 – The Treaty of the Hague is signed by Portugal and the Dutch Republic
1787 – Sixty proof sheets of the Constitution of the United States are delivered to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1819 – Norwich University is founded in Vermont, making it the first American private military school established
1845 – Bolivia gains independence from Spain
1890 – Convicted murderer William Kemmeler becomes the first prisoner to die by way of electric chair
1908 – Actor Will Lee, best known as Sesame Street's Mr. Hooper, is born in Brooklyn, New York
1911 - Actress Lucille Ball is born in Jamestown, New York
1911 - Actress Lucille Ball is born in Jamestown, New York
1917 – Actor Robert Mitchum is born in Bridgeport, Connecticut
1926 – Gertrude Ederle becomes the first woman to swim across the English Channel
1928 – Pop artist Andy Warhol is born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
1945 – Hiroshima, Japan is completely destroyed after atomic bomb “Little Boy” is dropped and detonated by American troops, killing seventy thousand people instantly
1962 – Jamaica becomes independent from the United Kingdom
1964 – The world's oldest tree, Prometheus, is chopped down
1988 – The New York Police Department is reformed following the Tompkins Square Riot in New York City
1991 – Former ABC anchorman Harry Reasoner dies of a blood clot in the brain at the age of 68
1996 – NASA announces that the ALH 84001 meteorite contains evidence of primitive life forms
2004 - “Super Freak” singer Rick James passes away at the age of 56
2012 – NASA's Curiosity rover lands on the surface of Mars
Quite a lot of history on August 6, both good and bad, don't you think?
August 6 also has a plethora of celebrity birthdays. And blowing out their candles today are Piers Anthony, Barbara Windsor, Louise Sorel, Catherine Hicks, Daryl Somers, Vinnie Vincent, Stepfanie Kramer, Randy DeBarge, Michelle Yeoh, M. Night Shymalan, Geri “Ginger Spice” Halliwell, Vera Farmiga, Karenna Gore Schiff, Ever Carradine, Soleil Moon Frye, Melissa George, Jennifer Lyons, Marisa Miller, Travie McCoy (Gym Class Heroes), Adrianne Curry, and Jordis Unga.
So, what date in history are we going back in time to?
Actually, not very far at all. The date today is August 6, 2009.
Four years ago, the world lost a man who had a really huge influence in the world of motion pictures, particularly during the period between 1982 and 2008. And in order to understand how well loved and celebrated this man was in the world of Hollywood, we have to begin with the last day of his life.
Thursday, August 6, 2009 began like any other summer morning in New York City. I can imagine that the sights and sounds of Manhattan in the summertime are a once-in-a-lifetime experience (well, unless you were born and raised in New York City, that is). And on that day, our blog subject was taking in the view as he walked down the streets while in town visiting some loved ones.
By the end of the day, he was gone. Dead of a heart attack at the age of 59 after sustaining a massive heart attack right in the middle of West 55th Street in the heart of Manhattan.
It was such a sad ending for writer/director John Hughes – a man whose name has been forever linked with some of the biggest teen movies ever. A man who has so much talent, and yet his life was snatched away from him way too early. A man who helped put stars such as Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald, Jon Cryer, Emilio Estevez, Macaulay Culkin, Jennifer Connelly, Andrew McCarthy, Judd Nelson, Matthew Broderick, and Anthony Michael Hall in the spotlight as ten of the biggest rising stars of the 1980s and beyond.
Today we are going to look back on the life and times of John Hughes, some of his most memorable films that his name has been associated with (some of which have been former blog entries, might I add), and the legacy that he left behind.
John Hughes was born in Lansing, Michigan on February 18, 1950, spending the first twelve years of his life growing up in nearby Grosse Pointe, Michigan before his family moved to Chicago, Illinois. Hughes initially had a hard time befriending people, as he never grew up in neighbourhoods where there were many kids his age (a common problem for this blogger as well), and he was initially the quiet kid in high school. But what was interesting about his high school life was that his time as a student at Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook, Illinois would serve as the inspiration behind many of his future projects.
After graduating from high school in 1968, Hughes attended The University of Arizona, but ultimately dropped out, instead focusing on a career in comedy. But unlike other people, he didn't actually tell the jokes himself. Instead, he sold his jokes to other performers like Rodney Dangerfield and Joan Rivers. That experience helped him secure his first adult job as an advertising copywriter in 1970. And during his experience at two different agencies during the early 1970s, he came up with the idea behind this memorable advertising campaign.
(Side note: Were credit cards really that generically boring in the 1970s? That card looked kind of like the Canadian Social Insurance cards! And no, I am not posting mine up for all to see.)
Anyway, John Hughes began building a name for himself in the world of advertising, and one of his biggest clients was Virginia Slims cigarettes. As a result of this, it wasn't uncommon for Hughes to fly out to New York City to the Philip Morris headquarters – the same place where National Lampoon magazine was located. Hughes often spent a lot of time at the magazine's offices, and he even submitted a short story to the magazine entitled “Vacation '58”, about his experiences on the various family vacations he went on.
Little did he know that short story would turn into the screenplay for “National Lampoon's Vacation” - the subject that I talked about in last week's Monday Matinee.
But that was John Hughes for you. And after the success of “National Lampoon's Vacation”, he started to realize that he could have a long, fulfilling career in the movie industry as a screenplay writer. And if one could choose a year in which John Hughes really began to make his mark, it would be 1983. In addition to “National Lampoon's Vacation”, he also had writing credits with “National Lampoon's Class Reunion”, “Mr. Mom”, and “Nate and Hayes”. And that success prompted Moll to wonder if he could have the same success as a director.
That question was answered with the coming-of-age comedy, “Sixteen Candles”, which was released in 1984 and starred Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, and Michael Schoeffling. It was a movie about a girl who was struggling to make it through her sixteenth birthday, the fact that her family has seemingly forgotten all about it because of the impending wedding of her sister, and the fact that she is struggling with teenage angst, teenage love, and other teenage problems that people between the ages of thirteen and nineteen could relate to.
What was interesting about “Sixteen Candles” was the realism and the heart that Hughes injected into each and every scene. It wasn't covered up with liberal doses of sweetness and light, nor was it incessantly gory like teenage horror movies. It was a nice, realistic view of what life was like as a teenager growing up in the 1980s, and I think that's why a lot of people seemed to love everything he did.
(Of course, I'm only speculating. I was a 1990s teen myself.)
Of course, this was hardly the first teenage coming-of-age film that Hughes would ever do. In 1985, Hughes won international praise when he cast Ringwald and Hall alongside Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, and Judd Nelson in “The Breakfast Club” - a film which grouped five students of different high school social classes and put them together in a Saturday detention in the school library. He also had success later in the year with the film “Weird Science”, which had Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith creating the ultimate science project in the sexy, and gorgeous Kelly LeBrock. A year later, he did it again when he cast Ringwald in a third movie, “Pretty in Pink”, which had her character struggling to choose between the hunky Blane (Andrew McCarthy) and the dorky Duckie (Jon Cryer).
(In case you're keeping track, that's three John Hughes movies a piece for both Anthony Michael Hall and Molly Ringwald.)
Of course those two actors weren't the only ones who benefited from Hughes' “magic touch”. Would anyone know who Matthew Broderick was today had Hughes not directed him in “Ferris Bueller's Day Off?”
Would Macaulay Culkin had become one of the biggest child stars of the 1990s had Hughes not written “Uncle Buck” and “Home Alone”?
Would Kevin Bacon not have continued his ever growing network via his “six degrees of separation” game had he not made an appearance in Hughes' “She's Having A Baby”?
There was just something about Hughes that made box office gold. I don't even think I can name off a John Hughes movie that I didn't particularly enjoy. Mind you, he did have a few clunkers in his time. I don't think too many people will forgive him for 2001's “Just Visiting” or 2002's “Maid in Manhattan”. But in his prime, Hughes proved that he could write for both teenagers and adults alike.
However, in his later years, Hughes shifted away from directing. His last known feature film where he served as director was 1991's “Curly Sue” (which is a movie that I absolutely need to do as a future Monday Matinee). And although he did do some work during the 1990s and early 2000s, he more or less retired from the public eye in 1994 – right around the time that one of his favourite actors that he liked to use in his films passed away at the young age of 43.
John Candy made the most appearances out of all of Hughes' films, with eight in total. Among them were “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”, “The Great Outdoors”, “Uncle Buck”, “Home Alone”, and “Only The Lonely”. But when John Candy died in March 1994 of a severe heart attack, many sources close to Hughes remarked on how Candy's death affected him greatly. Some people even suggest that had Candy not died in 1994, Hughes would have continued to direct films.
Therefore it almost seems kind of ironic that just fifteen years after John Candy's death that John Hughes would end up dying of a heart attack himself.
Within days of Hughes' passing, the tributes began to flow in. The NBC comedy “Community” (which starred Chevy Chase of the Vacation series) – did a tribute to him on the September 17, 2009 episode which featured a ton of references to Hughes films, including the iconic end song from “The Breakfast Club” found below.
In 2012, the animated film “ParaNorman” was dedicated in his memory, and some of the characters were even designed like the main characters found in “The Breakfast Club”.
But perhaps the most fitting tribute was aired at the 82nd Academy Awards ceremony, which aired on March 7, 2010. Molly Ringwald, Matthew Broderick, Jon Cryer, Anthony Michael Hall, Ally Sheedy, Macaulay Culkin, and Judd Nelson all came out on stage to pay tribute to their friend. And by clicking below, you can watch the whole thing all over again.
A perfect way to end this week's Tuesday Timeline.