Sincerely, John Hughes

Ken AshfordIn PassingLeave a Comment

Photo3 What started as a fan letter to John Hughes turned into a two-year penpal relationship for Alison Byrne (now Alison Fields).  They corresponded often from 1985-1987.  At one point, Hughes wrote:

"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."

In 1997, as an adult, Allison was working in North Carolina on a diversity education project, and had sent a short training film she had made to John Hughes, with whom she had no contact for ten years.  She didn't know what response, if any, he would have.

But she was surprised.  He called her, and they talked for an hour.

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.

Read Alison's blog post for a rather touching rememberance.