Director – Bob Clark III
-Biography: August 05, 1941 – April 04, 2007 -New Orleans, LA. Bejamin “Bob” Clark began making independent low-budget features as a writer/director with the transvestite comedy The She Man in 1967, and is fondly remembered for his horror films of the early ’70s, made with writer/actor Alan Ormsby: Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things and Deathdream. Clark also won admiration for his Sherlock Holmes film Murder By Decree, scripted by John Hopkins.
Clark then branched out as a competent helmer of a wide variety of genres, mostly from his own original stories. His films include the atmospheric, imaginative period thriller, “Murder By Decree” (1979), in which Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson solve the mystery of Jack the Ripper, the film version of the sentimental father-son stage drama “Tribute” (1980) and the semi-autobiographical, smarmy but high grossing hit comedies, “Porky’s” (1981) and “Porky’s II–The Next Day” (1983). Clark is perhaps best-known for the now classic holiday-themed “A Christmas Story” (1983).
Bob Clark was killed along with his son, Ariel Hanrath-Clark, in a head-on crash with a vehicle that steered into the wrong lane. The driver fo the other car was found guilty of driving without a license while intoxicated.
Author - Jean Shepherd
A Christmas Story author Jean Shepherd (above left) played a cameo role as the angry gentleman who tells Ralphie “The line ends here! It begins there!”
-Biography: July 26, 1921 – October 16, 1999 – South Chicago, IL. Raised in Hammond Indiana, Jean Shepherd also known simply as Shep went on to work in the steel mills and was a veteran of the Army Signal Corps before entering the arts. In the 1950s, he began a long career as a radio personality telling stories of his youth, commenting on current topics and performing silly songs. While at WOR-AM in New York he also broadcast live night club acts from the Limelight in Greenwich Village. He wrote for Playboy and other magazines. His articles were published in a series of books including “The America of George Ade”, “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash”, “Wanda Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories, and Other Disasters”, “A Fistful of Fig Newtons” and “The Ferrari in the Bedroom”. During the 1970s he did two series of humorous programs as well as several “American Playhouse” episodes for PBS. In 1983 he wrote his first feature film, “A Christmas Story” putting together many tales of his semi-autobiographical character “Ralphie”. A sequel, “My Summer Story” (AKA “It Runs in the Family”) was made in 1994. To find out more about Jean Shepherd visit FlickLives.com
The Star – Peter Billingsley as Ralphie Parker
-Biography: April 16, 1971 – New York, NY. Prior to “A Christmas Story,” Peter Billingsley, who played Ralphie, gained fame as a correspondent for the variety show “Real People.” He also played Messy Marvin in Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup commercials. After a waining child acting career Peter made the move behind the camera and is now a producer often working with his close friends Vince Vaugh and John Favreau. His recent credits as a producer include: Iron Man and The Break Up. He often appears in cameo roles in the movies he produces. He directed his first movie Couples Retreat in 2008.
Peter tells how he met long time friend Vince Vaughn. The two have collaborated on a number of Hollywood projects since meeting on the set of an after school special titled “The Fourth Man”
Peter Billingsley pre-Ralphie as Messy Marvin
The Old Man – Darren McGavin
-Biography: May 7, 1922 – February 25, 2006 – San Joaquin, CA. Darren McGavin who’s birth name was William Lyle Richardson was a remarkably seasoned actor of stage, screen and television, Darren McGavin notched in excess of 200 performances; however, he is most fondly remembered by cult TV fans as heroic newspaper reporter Carl Kolchak in the classic but short-lived horror TV series “Kolchak: The Night Stalker” (1974). In a long and varied career, McGavin has often turned up as authority figures including policemen, military officers, stern-faced business executives or father figures; however, he is equally adept at light-hearted comedic performances. He was the second choice to play The Old Man in “A Christmas Story” behind Jack Nicholson. According to IMDB.com McGavin’s salary for the role was $2,000,000.
The Entire Cast
|Melinda Dillon …
Darren McGavin …
Peter Billingsley …
Ian Petrella …
Scott Schwartz …
R.D. Robb …
Tedde Moore …
Yano Anaya …
Zack Ward …
Jeff Gillen …
Colin Fox …
Paul Hubbard …
Leslie Carlson …
Jim Hunter …
Patty Johnson …
Drew Hocevar …
David Svoboda …
Dwayne McLean …
Helen E. Kaider …
John Wong …
Johan Wong …
Fred Lee …
Dan Ma …
Rocco Bellusci …
Tommy Wallace …
Jean Shepherd …
Bob Clark …
Bill Kravitz …
Jordan-Patrick Marcantonio …
Christine Powrie …
Ming the Merciless
Tree Man (as Les Carlson)
Chop Suey Palace Owner
Boy in School
Narrator, Man in Line for Santa, Voice of Santa
Boy Visiting Santa (uncredited)
Screaming Girl On Slide After Ralphie (uncredited)
Interview with Peter Billingsley
interview by Wayne Chinsang
YOU MIGHT NOT REMEMBER PETER BILLINGSLEY AS THE TWO-YEAR-OLD PROP IN THAT GERITOL COMMERCIAL FROM THE SEVENTIES. BUT YOU PROBABLY DO REMEMBER HIM AS “RALPHIE” FROM A CHRISTMAS STORY. READ ON TO FIND OUT JUST HOW MUCH OUR LITTLE PETER HAS GROWNS UP, AND GROWNS UP, AND GROWNS UP.
Wayne: So, how did you get into acting?
Peter: I guess sort of by luck. I grew up in New York City, and people used to tell my mom that my brother and I were cute, and that we should be in commercials. My mom didn’t know much about it, but she took us to an agent with aspirations of maybe getting a print ad in The Times in our little sailor suits or something. One agent said we were too fat, another agent said we were too ugly. (laughs) She was kind of beaten up from the business after a couple of meetings. But the third agent said, “Yeah, they’ll work.” So I went on an audition for Geritol, and I got it. I was two-and-a-half years old. Betty Buckley played the mom, and there were some other kids, but I was basically a prop. And she said something like, “With kids like these you take Geritol twice a day.” It just snowballed from there.
W: I was going to ask how a kid–
P: Was using Geritol?
W: Yeah. (laughs)
P: Yeah. They were just popping me full of pills. (laughs) I was blessed because I didn’t have the child star syndrome family that you hear a lot about. It was always just something that was to be done for fun. If anything, my family was trying to stop and make sure that I was comfortable doing it. And I was.
W: That was part of my next question. There seems to be so much talk of child actors being thrown into the “harsh world” of Hollywood. Do you think it’s that dramatic?
P: I think it was a different time for me back then. The amount of available money wasn’t as great. Now, kids are making adult salaries. Before, there were kid salaries and adult salaries. So I think it’s encouraging parents more and more to see there’s some financial benefit that they can make off of their kids. But also, the regulations have improved. But I was really lucky. I don’t have an E! True Hollywood Story. (laughs) Some woman from E! came up to me in a bar one time and said, “Oh, we should do one.” And I said, “I don’t think it will get good ratings.” There’s nothing to talk about. You know: “Peter grew up in a loving family in Phoenix.”
W: (laughs) “He did not smoke crack or star in porn.”
P: (laughs) “He tried a cigarette once. We’ll be right back.” There’s really nothing there.
W: You hear a lot, especially earlier on and with child actors, about how people sign their royalty rights away because it wasn’t something anybody considered. Were you fortunate enough to not sign away your royalties?
P: Yeah. As far as I understand it, it was all done through the Union through SAG, so it was whatever the contracts were at the time. The unfortunate thing is that with movies like A Christmas Story, made in ‘83, cable was something that only a couple of lucky people had. No one really knew what it was. So, they had to find a royalty based for cable back then, and it’s really worth nothing, and of course TNT plays it a lot. But, it’s certainly not about that. I’m just thrilled to have been a part of a movie that goes on and on. I mean, Jesus, it plays 24 straight hours. That’s pretty awesome.
W: I was wondering about that. There’s so many things that people associate with the holidays. They watch certain things, or they do certain things. And A Christmas Story is a big part of many other people’s holidays. What is something that is a big part of your holiday?
P: Trying to avoid watching A Christmas Story. (laughs) Sometimes I go back and my parents will still put it on. My family is all spread out so, like a lot of families, we just try our best to get together at Christmas time. Every other holiday and birthdays fall by the wayside, but Christmas is one time we all try to meet up. We’re just spread out everywhere. I’m on the West Coast, I have family in Philly, Florida and New York. And I’ve got a brother in Turkey.
W: Yeah. I read an interview E! did with you, and you were in Turkey while you were doing the interview.
W: I’m pretty sure. I remember thinking it was bizarre you were in Turkey. Maybe they made it up.
P: Well, I was in Romania once, and I saw a TV movie that I had done; it was one of the last things I had done acting. I was about 21 at the time. But it was dubbed in Turkish, and I had the voice of a 55-year-old guy. (laughs) I had a really deep voice.
W: One of the most timeless qualities about A Christmas Story is that Jean Shepherd’s writing is so universal. I know you said you try and avoid watching it, but how does the film hold up for you?
P: I say that I avoid it really only as a joke. I’m at the point where I can appreciate it now. It’s just that, when you’re so close to something, and you’ve got so many memories associated with it, it’s hard to be objective when watching it. But I’m actually at a point when I can watch it, and it does hold up. He (Shepherd) just seemed to have a knack, and everyone,.. (pauses) I think the movie speaks for itself. So it’s a bit difficult to articulate why the movie works. Jean just really had a way of capturing the world through a child’s eyes, and creating a family life that everyone can relate to. He was a great guy.
W: There has always been a lot of comparisons between A Christmas Story and The Wonder Years.
P: Yeah. The similarities are pretty obvious, I guess. Hats off to ‘em. They were smart enough to be inspired by the film and to make a really successful TV show about it. It was neat to watch.
W: The interview that I read on E!–
P: I don’t know what this interview on E! is.
W: I can send you the link.
P: They cannot be trusted. (laughs)
W: (laughs) But the funny part about the interview is that it is with “The Christmas Story Kid”, not Peter Billingsley. Does it ever get frustrating being “The Christmas Story Kid”?
P: (laughs) Yeah. But thank God it’s not like, “Oh. You’re Mikey from Life.” At least it’s a great film. It’s kind of something I want to be known for. Being associated with it is a really positive thing.
W: It’s cool to hear that you enjoy being a part of it, because so often you hear people that are like, “That was forever ago, and I don’t want to have anything to do with it now.”
P: I think your life takes you where you lead it. And, in time, people will get to know you. And I prefer to move more organically toward the things I’m doing next. As I became a teenager, I wasn’t going to rip off my glasses, spike my hair, and say, “Oh. I’m a young adult.” I was still blind; I still wore my hair down. It was just a lot easier to be myself through the phases of life than to try and do something fake. My family life was a blessing. With the kids I was working with at the time, really the big difference was the family. We were raised in Phoenix, I had a lot of brothers and sisters, and acting was something that was a privilege and a joy to be a part of. And if it wasn’t fun, then it was just going to stop.
W: That’s a great way to look at it. I just interviewed James Gunn, and we talked about how so many people just bitch about working in Hollywood. And he said they should just get a different job.
P: It’s a pretty awesome business to be involved in when you break it down. I mean, what we’re actually doing for a living is pretty incredible.
W: The freedom has to be amazing.
P: It’s great. But you’re also in that a little bit, aren’t you? I imagine you can budget your schedule, and you get to call up cool people and ask them funky questions.
W: (laughs) Yeah.
P: Try and rattle their cages a little bit. (laughs)
W: A bit. (laughs) So, has there been any talk of a sequel?
P: There was one.
W: You mean the one where no one from the original returns?
P: Yeah. With Mary Steenburgen and Kieran Culkin. Did you see it?
W: No. But I’m talking a sequel with the original cast, where the kids are all grown up.
P: Well, A Christmas Story is a short story in Jean’s anthology. There was some talk about it. But Jean’s gone now, and I don’t know,.. you know, the idea certainly entered my head. But I don’t know how you approach it without him. Without the voice and without his vision behind it, it would be hard.
W: Good point. So, my father loves the movie. He got me hooked on it as a kid, and he wants me to ask you who got to keep the leg lamp?