John Hughes

John Hughes, the director of classic 1980s comedies such as The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Sixteen Candles, has died. He was 59.

The director suffered a heart attack Thursday while taking a morning walk in New York City, where he was visiting family, a spokeswoman for Hughes told TVGuide.com.

Check out our favorite John Hughes' movies

Born on Feb. 18, 1950, in Michigan, Hughes began his career as an advertising copywriter in Chicago. He got his start in Hollywood with the screenplay for the 1983 Chevy Chase comedy National Lampoon's Vacation. He followed with Mr. Mom, which starred Michael Keaton.

Hughes made his directorial debut in 1984 with Sixteen Candles, which starred Molly Ringwald as Samantha Baker, a young woman whose 16th birthday goes horribly wrong.

"I was stunned and incredibly sad to hear about the death of John Hughes," Ringwald said in a statement. "He was and will always be such an important part of my life. He will be missed — by me and by everyone that he has touched. My heart and all my thoughts are with his family now."

He re-teamed with Ringwald the following year for The Breakfast Club, which focused on five high school stereotypes who bond one day during detention, and again in Pretty in Pink, which he wrote and produced.

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Jon Cryer, who played Duckie in Pink, called Hughes' death "a horrible tragedy." "He was an amazing man to work for and with," Cryer said in a statement. "He respected young actors in a way that made you realize you had to step up your game because you were playing in the big leagues now. That's why he got such great performances out of his actors. My heart goes out to his wife Nancy and their children."

Hughes continued his streak of high school-based films with Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which starred Matthew Broderick, who said he was "shocked and saddened" by the news of his death. "He was a wonderful, very talented guy and my heart goes out to his family," Broderick said in a statement.

His other directing achievements in the '80s included Weird Science, Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Uncle Buck. Steve Martin, who starred in Planes, said in a statement that Hughes' gift was in screenwriting, noting that he "created deep and complex characters, rich in humanity and humor." 

Watch clips of his most famous movies in our Online Video Guide

Though he stepped away from directing in the early '90s, Hughes wrote such films as Beethoven, 101 Dalmatians, Flubber and Home Alone, which made a star out of Macaulay Culkin. "I was a fan of both his work and a fan of him as a person," Culkin said in a statement. "The world has lost not only a quintessential filmmaker whose influence will be felt for generations, but a great and decent man."

He spent his time out of the spotlight with his family and maintained a farm in northern Illinois. He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Nancy, two sons and four grandchildren.