John MacDonald Badham (born August 25, 1939) is an English-American television and film director, best known for his 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) August 25, 1939 (age 83)
Occupation(s)Film director, film producer, screenwriter and actor
Years active1969–present
Bonnie Hughes
(m. 1967; div. 1979)

Jan Speck
(m. 1983; div. 1990)

Julia Badham
(m. 1992)

Early lifeEdit

Badham was born in Luton, Bedfordshire, England, 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 US 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. 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, an affluent suburb of Birmingham. He attended Indian Springs School, at that time a brand-new, liberal boys' school located a short distance south of Birmingham in Shelby County near the rural post office of Helena. He later went to 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 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]

In 1986, he signed a two-year development deal with production company Universal Pictures, in order to develop various film projects.[5]

Unrealized projectsEdit

Badham has been considered to direct films that ended up being helmed by other directors, such as The Wiz (1978),[6] Brubaker (1980),[7] First Blood (1982),[8] Staying Alive (1983),[9] The Dead Zone (1983),[10] Starman (1984),[11] Project X (1987),[12] Short Circuit 2 (1988),[13] Ghost Dad (1990),[14][15] Patriot Games (1992),[16] The Firm (1993),[17] and Dragonheart (1996).[18]


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, released in 1966; Badham was Castle's casting director, and Mary played one of the leads.[19]

Badham's former wife is retired model Jan Speck of The New Treasure Hunt. She had assorted cameo roles in many of his projects, starting in the 1980s.[20]


Television filmsEdit

Television seriesEdit


  • 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 978-1-615931-38-5.


  1. ^ a b "John Badham, Director (official website): Biography". Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved November 28, 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 October 1, 2015.
  4. ^ Marshall, Colin. "John Landis Deconstructs Trailers of Great 20th Century Films: Citizen Kane, Sunset Boulevard, 2001 & More". Open Culture. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  5. ^ "Badham Inks Two-Year Development Deal with U". Variety. July 2, 1986. p. 17.
  6. ^ Potempa, Philip (September 11, 2008). "Fans ask whatever happened to attention 'The Wiz' deserves?". The Times of Northwest Indiana. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
  7. ^ "Brubaker". Retrieved December 3, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ "First Blood". Retrieved June 11, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ "Staying Alive". Retrieved December 3, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ Lambie, Ryan (February 21, 2015). "Why The Dead Zone Is One of the Best Stephen King Films". Den of Geek. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
  11. ^ "John Carpenter's Starman". Retrieved December 3, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ "Project X". Retrieved December 3, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ "Short Circuit 2". Retrieved December 3, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ Evans, Bradford (October 25, 2012). "The Lost Roles of Steve Martin". Retrieved July 3, 2019.
  15. ^ Klady, Leonard (February 28, 1988). "Cinefile". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
  16. ^ "Patriot Games". Retrieved June 9, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. ^ "The Firm". Retrieved December 3, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ Duncan, Jody (1996). The Making of Dragonheart (Boulevard ed.). New York: Boulevard Books. p. 13. ISBN 1-57297-109-6. OCLC 34806374.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  19. ^ 'Trailers from Hell: John Badham on 'To Kill a Mockingbird'
  20. ^ "Jan Speck". IMDb.

External linksEdit