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Las Vegas, NV (Dec 20) November 1983 we met Ralphie Parker in “A Christmas Story,” and the movie became a holiday classic. A nine-year-old Ralphie who wanted a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas, and throughout the movie, made every effort to see that Santa brought it to him only to be told repeatedly “it will shoot your eye out,” tells the story.
Ralphie, played by Peter Billingsley, was Jean Shepherd’s alter ego, and a short story written by Shepherd. Peter Billingsley grew up to be a successful behind the scenes co-executive director, or co-producer for such films as Zathura, Iron Man, and Four Christmases with his good friends, Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn. He also came from behind the camera to play cameos in The Break-up movie, and the movie Elf.
Darren McGavin played Ralphie’s father, referred often in the film as “the old Man”. McGavin continued finding success playing Adam Sandler’s father in the movie “Billy Madison”, and Murphy Brown’s father in the TV sitcom “Murphy Brown”, winning an Emmy for that role. Few ever knew McGavin grew up in several orphanages after being abandoned by his parents at age eleven. Darren McGavin passed away in 2006 at the age of 83.
Ralphie’s mother was played by Melinda Dillon who began her career as a comedy actress in Chicago’s “Second City” after working on Broadway starring in the original Broadway production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”. Dillon also starred in Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” After “A Christmas Story” there was the TV sitcom “Harry and the Hendersons,” and her last role television’s “Heartland” in 2007. Melinda Dillon is currently working on a documentary about director Paul Sills, Second City’s director, due for release in 2011.
Scott Schwartz’s character “Flick” who gets his tongue stuck to a frozen pole, had a few successes after “A Christmas Story”, with such movies as “The Toy” and “A Time to Live”, but after little success in a few low budget horror films, left the movie industry and turned to trading card collections. Sports Card Monthly featured him on one of their covers.
Zack Ward played bully Scut Farkus, and had young boys everywhere fearing playmates with red hair and yellow eyes. Zack continued his career with roles in many science fiction films “Dollhouse and Charmed,” and bigger films, “Almost Famous” and “Transformers.” The Canadian born actor did not let the infamous bully Scut with yellow teeth and red hair keep him from getting good acting roles.
Jean Shepherd was the writer and narrator of “A Christmas Story” and played the angry man waiting in line to visit the department store Santa. After “A Christmas Story” Shepherd wrote other stories for film, “Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss” and “My Summer Story” released later for DVD and renamed “It Runs in the Family”. Sadly, Jean Shepherd passed away at the age of 78 in 1999.