“You’ll shoot your eye out!” “I Triple-Dog-Dare Ya!” “Fraa-jeel-aay! It must be Italian!” Since A Christmas Story first came out in 1983, the movie has been a family holiday classic. Directed by Bob Clark and based on Jean Shepherd’s book, In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash, the film shows 9-year-old Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsly) enthralled in the Christmas spirit, and how all he wants is a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. As he tries to guarantee that the BB gun will be under the tree come Christmas morning, we are treated to adventures featuring Ralphie, his younger brother Randy (Ian Petrella), and his beleaguered parents (Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon).
There are also clashes with neighborhood bullies Scott’ Scut’ Farkus (Zack Ward) and Grover Dill (Yano Anaya) and an unforgettable scene with Santa (Jeff Gillen). Not to mention, The Old Man and his “major award,” the now-iconic leg lamp. Though the movie was a moderate success – it pulled in $19 million at the box office – it has become a classic. The cast has also gone on to do other things, as well.
Peter Billingsley acted in The Dirk Bike Kids, Russkies, and Arcade. He even returned to Christmas movies with 2003’s Elf, co-producing the film and appearing as Ming Min the elf. Peter also had roles in Iron Man, Four Christmases, and Spider-Man: Far From Home. He also directed a few movies, like Couples Retreat and Term Life. Ian Petrella quit acting at the turn of the century but returned to entertainment when he discovered his love of puppetry and animation. Melinda Dillion — who had acclaim for her roles in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Absence of Malice – had notable roles in Harry and the Hendersons, Magnolia, Reign Over Me, and To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar. Darren McGavin — who appeared in The Man with the Golden Arm and on numerous television shows (Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer) before A Christmas Story – continued to act up until he died in 2006.
Perhaps the biggest glow-up is that of Zack Ward. The yellow-eyed bully of A Christmas Story appeared on television shows like Titus, NCIS, Lost, and Crossing Jordan. He has also appeared in Repo, Transformers, Don’t Blink, and Survive The Game. He’s also available for Cameos if you want to get someone that special something.
It’s incredible how this sleeper hit has become a yearly tradition. One of the ways the film has endured over the decades – and this is probably key to its longevity — is through the 24-hour marathons that have aired on TBS and TNT. The networks began airing the movie around Christmastime in the 1980s, but in 1997, TNT cemented the film’s legacy by kicking off the first 24-hour marathon. “Starting in 2014, we started airing it across both TBS and TNT,” Michael Quigley, then the networks’ executive vice president of network and programming optimization and content strategy, told Variety in 2018. The marathons at the time were reaching “over 40 million viewers,” which Quigley described as “staggering in terms of its performance, and we’re finding that constantly it is among the top-performing movies on our network year after year.”