John MacDonald Badham (born August 25, 1939) is an English-born American film director, best known for the films Saturday Night Fever (1977), Blue Thunder (1983), WarGames (1983), Short Circuit (1986), Stakeout (1987), Bird on a Wire (1990) and others.
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. Badham's father, Henry Lee Badham, Jr. was a native of Birmingham, Alabama, USA the son of Henry Lee Badham, Sr. and Lottie Badham, née Austin. John Badham's parents and paternal grandparents are buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham. Henry Lee Badham, Jr. 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 Lee Badham, Jr. became a businessman, and was involved with the development of the Ensley and Bessemer regions near Birmingham, Alabama. This same line of business had brought his father, Henry Lee Badham, Sr., into association with Walker Percy, grandfather of writer Walker Percy.
John Badham spent his first years in England. His family moved to the United States following World War II and settled in Mountain Brook, a suburb of Henry Lee Badham, Jr.'s native Birmingham, where John Badham was raised. He attended the Indian Springs School in Indian Springs Village and college at Yale University.
Badham worked in television for years before his breakthrough in 1977 with Saturday Night Fever. Starring John Travolta, the film is recognized as the most representational of the 1970s disco era. The iconic & symbolic Saturday Night Fever image is from the choreographically revamped (Stayin`Alive) plus re-certified for re-release as Saturday Night Fever 1978[cert.R] shows a frame of Karen Lynn Gorney clapping rhythmically(following their dance duet) and John Travolta dancing spectacularly (during the 3rd chorus) while looking at the camera to be completely mesmerizing, as directed by John Badham. The advanced choreography made John a global icon & accentuated his white suit. 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 of amateur hacking.
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.
Badham is 13 years older than his sister, Mary Badham, who was nominated for an Oscar for her role as Jean Louise “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. Though she's younger, all of Mary's acting credits preceded her brother's film/television credits by several years.
Badham's former wife is veteran model Jan Speck, 15 years his junior, of The New Treasure Hunt fame. She has had assorted cameo roles in many of his projects, starting in the 1980s.