John Badham

John MacDonald Badham (born August 25, 1939) is an English-born American director of film and television, best known for the films Saturday Night Fever (1977), Dracula (1979), Blue Thunder (1983), WarGames (1983), Short Circuit (1986), and Stakeout (1987).

John Badham
John MacDonald Badham

(1939-08-25) 25 August 1939
Luton, Bedfordshire, England, United Kingdom
OccupationFilm director
Years active1969–present
Bonnie Hughes
(m. 1967; div. 1979)

Jan Speck
(m. 1983; div. 1990)

Julia Badham
(m. 1992)

Early life

John Badham was born in Luton, Bedfordshire, United Kingdom, the son of U.S. Army General Henry Lee Badham, Jr., and English-born actress Mary Iola Badham (née Hewitt).[1] Henry, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, moved his family back to the U.S., when John was two years old. John's parents and paternal grandparents are buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham. Henry was an aviator in both World Wars, and was posthumously inducted into the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame in 2007. After retirement from the U.S. Air Force as a brigadier general, Henry became a businessman and helped develop the Ensley and Bessemer regions near Birmingham, Alabama. This same line of business had brought his own father, John's grandfather, into association with Walker Percy, grandfather of writer Walker Percy.[2]

After World War II, Badham's family settled in Mountain Brook, a suburb of Birmingham. He attended the Indian Springs School in Indian Springs Village and college at Yale University.[1]


Badham worked in television for years, before his breakthrough in 1977 with Saturday Night Fever, a massive worldwide hit starring John Travolta. WarGames (1983), starring Matthew Broderick, is his other signature film, renowned for its take on popular Cold War fears of nuclear terror, and holocaust, as well as being one of the first films to deal with the subculture of amateur hacking.[3]

In addition to his numerous film credits, Badham has also directed and produced for TV, including credits for Rod Serling's Night Gallery, and the A&E television series The Beast. He has also contributed commentary to the web series Trailers from Hell.[4]

Unrealized projects

Badham has been considered to direct films that ended up being helmed by other directors, such as The Wiz (1978),[5] The Dead Zone (1983)[6] and Ghost Dad (1990).[7][8]


Badham's sister, Mary Badham, was nominated for an Oscar for her role as "Scout" Finch in the film To Kill a Mockingbird. They worked together on one project, William Castle's Let's Kill Uncle. Badham was Castle's casting director, and Mary played one of the leads.[9]

Badham's former wife is veteran model Jan Speck of The New Treasure Hunt fame. She has had assorted cameo roles in many of his projects, starting in the 1980s.


Television films

Television series


  • Badham, John (2006). I’ll Be in My Trailer. Michael Wiese Productions. ISBN 1-932907-14-9.
  • Badham, John (2013). John Badham on Directing. Michael Wiese Productions. ISBN 1-615931-38-4.


  1. "John Badham, Director (official website): Biography". Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  2. Badham, Jr., H. L., comp. History of the Bessemer Coal, Iron, and Land Company. Bessemer: N.p., 1948
  3. Barsanti, Chris (2014). The Sci-Fi Movie Guide: The Universe of Film from Alien to Zardoz. Canton MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 422. ISBN 9781578595037. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  4. Marshall, Colin. "John Landis Deconstructs Trailers of Great 20th Century Films: Citizen Kane, Sunset Boulevard, 2001 & More". Open Culture. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  5. Potempa, Philip (11 September 2008). "Fans ask whatever happened to attention 'The Wiz' deserves?". The Times of Northwest Indiana. Retrieved 3 July 2019.
  6. Lambie, Ryan (21 February 2015). "Why The Dead Zone Is One of the Best Stephen King Films". Den of Geek. Retrieved 3 July 2019.
  7. Evans, Bradford (25 October 2012). "The Lost Roles of Steve Martin". Retrieved 3 July 2019.
  8. Klady, Leonard (28 February 1988). "Cinefile". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 3 July 2019.
  9. 'Trailers from Hell: John Badham on 'To Kill a Mockingbird'
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