John Hughes never stopped writing, his sons tell Vanity Fair
John Hughes, the uncontested bard of the '80s and the withdrawn J.D. Salinger for decades beyond that, would have turned 60 years old a week from today. Instead, he died from a heart attack on a New York City sidewalk on Aug. 6, 2009, a date that perhaps some of us will remember more than our own birthdays or anniversaries.
How Hughes filled his life between his last directing job (1991's Curly Sue) and his all-too-sudden departure from us is the subject of a comprehensive article by David Kamp in the new edition of Vanity Fair.
It's a fantastic piece, thanks in no small part to the participation of Hughes' two sons -- John Hughes III, a musician and record producer in Chicago, and James Hughes, a writer and managing editor of an cultural magazine called Stop Smiling who is relocating from New York to Chicago. (It was James and his new baby who Hughes was visiting in New York in August.)
I don't want to steal the thunder from Kamp's piece, which I consider mandatory reading for everyone on this blog. But here are a couple revelations from the article:
- Hughes never stopped writing. In fact, he wrote constantly in pocket-sized notebooks that he kept with him at all times. So far, the sons have discovered more than 300 such notebooks in his father's effects.
- Also left behind: journals, binders with works in progress and gigabytes of computer files. Stuff his sons are pretty sure Hughes never meant for Hollywood to see.
- Hughes' grandchildren had become his primary occupation. According to one son, Hughes saw himself as “the curious, engaged grandpa in the seersucker.” To that end, he left a stack of letters for each of his four grandchildren, to be opened and read when they reached specific ages.
- The last full day of Hughes' life -- Aug. 5, 2009 -- was a happy one, as Kamp details it, with the proud grandfather arriving in New York just in time for dinner and in "the best possible mood,” James said. He left that night with plans to meet again the next day. It didn't happen.