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John Hughes: Influential Director — and Pen Pal

Director John Hughes, who passed away Thursday at age 59, made a big impact on those of us who grew up watching his films and crushing on his characters. But he made an even bigger impact on Alison Byrne Fields: he was her pen pal.

As she recounts on her blog, We'll Know When We Get There, Fields and Hughes sent letters back and forth between 1985 and 1987, after Alison poured her heart out to Hughes praising The Breakfast Club. Initially, she got a form letter back and wrote Hughes again, chiding him. Find out what happened next.

Crazily, the director wrote again, apologizing for the form letter and saying her note meant a lot to him. Alison boldly asked if he would be her pen pal, and he said yes! Here's more:


"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."

The two wrote back and forth for two years about everything from filmmaking to high school to boys to Judd Nelson. Though their correspondence eventually ended, the pair reconnected by phone many years later. You should really read her post to get the whole story; if it's true, and it seems like it is, it's a crazy and adorable tale.

Did you ever have a pen pal when you were a kid? Did you ever write letters to famous people?

Join The Conversation
Triste3030 Triste3030 7 years
I've been writing to my 4th grade teacher since 1996. She'll have her classes write to me as well and they're so cute! They've followed me through high school, college, and now adulthood. Which reminds me I need to write her a letter ;)
Zivanod Zivanod 7 years
That's neat. Reminds me of something that happened to a fellow student in high school. We had to do a bid year-end project (like a term paper) for our final year of music. It could be anything, like composing a song, studying a famous musician, etc. Oh, I composed a song ... it was crap! One of the boys in my class actually sent a letter off to John Williams asking his a bunch of questions in regards to composing Star Wars, Indiana Jones and about being the conductor of the Boston Pops, etc. Surprisingly, John Williams wrote back, answering all of his questions. He then had his dad and him talk on a tape recorder as if the boy (Jason I think was his name) were the journalist and his dad as John Williams. Needless to say, the music teacher was really impressed ad he did really well. Anyway, thought that was also a cool celebrity interaction.
le-romantique le-romantique 7 years
Beautiful story.
prettypopj prettypopj 7 years
this is such a touching story-nice to know some people in holloywood still had their feet on the ground-he made feelgood movies like nobody eles and started off the 'Brat Pack'.gone to soon but his work will live on-the star the burns the brightest burns for half as long.
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