Archive for the 'News Stories' Category

A Christmas Story House on MSNBC

December 19th, 2010 by Ralphie

A Christmas Story House was featured on MSNBC Your Business on 12/19/2010   Click the image below to watch.

MSNBC Your Business A Christmas Story House

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What’s Christmas without a visit to Ralphie’s house in Cleveland

December 11th, 2010 by Ralphie

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By ALGIS J. LAUKAITIS / Lincoln Journal Star

CLEVELAND — Christmas memories are as unique as snowflakes.

But there is one Yuletide memory that millions of Americans share: watching “A Christmas Story” during the holiday season.

Ring a bell? Just think of Ralphie (You’ll shoot your eye out!) Parker and his relentless quest for a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun from Santa Claus.

Depending on where you live, the film is hard to miss. Some TV stations show the film continuously for 24 hours. Its popularity is right up there with “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

If you’re crazy about the movie, you’ll want to visit Cleveland and see the house where the film was made in 1983. Yes, it’s there, fully restored to its movie splendor and open for tours year-round.

Since its opening in 2006, more than 156,000 people have stopped by to see the house with its “Major Award” shining in the living room window, according to a tour guide.

The Old Man, played by Darren McGavin, won the award, a garish lamp in the shape of a woman’s leg. Mrs. Parker was not amused and “accidentally” broke it.

A replica is in the house now, and if that one gets knocked over, there are plenty more leg lamps across the street in the gift shop. They range from a full-size model for $199 down to a night-light model for $14.99. (For $239 they will ship it in a wooden crate.) You also can find the shapely legs on Christmas ornaments, key chains and tacky ties.

Like the pink rabbit pajamas from Aunt Clara that Ralphie wore on Christmas morning? You can buy a pair in the adult size for $99.99. They come in women’s and children sizes, too.

But the real draws are the house and the museum, featuring original props and costumes and memorabilia from the film and hundreds of rare behind-the-scenes photos. You’ll find the red snowsuit, worn by Ralphie’s little brother, Randy, and also his silver zeppelin. There’s also the ratty coat that McGavin wore while he changed the flat tire. The family car is parked in a garage next to the gift shop.

Remember the scene in the bathroom, where Ralphie had to put a bar of Lifebuoy soap in his mouth for using a cuss word? You can do the same. Lifebuoy soap bars are available from the gift shop.

Kids also can crawl under the sink, just as Randy did when he was scared that “The Old Man” was going to kill Ralphie for getting into a fight with the neighborhood bully, Skut Farcus.

But the big draw is the living room, where a Red Ryder BB gun sits in its box in the corner behind the desk — just like in the movie. And McGavin’s blue bowling ball rests under a Christmas tree. Visitors like to pose with both the gun and bowling ball — along with the leg lamp.

After touring the rest of the house, which includes Ralphie and Randy’s bedroom (check out the original wallpaper) and the old-fashioned kitchen complete with a plastic turkey, visitors can go into the backyard to see the garden shed that the bad guys crawled over.

Depending on the time of year, you might find a BB gun range in the backyard, where you can practice with a Red Ryder. But be careful so you don’t shoot your eye out!

But if you’re looking for the Bumpus hounds next door, they’ve been replaced by pit bulls.

“A Christmas Story” has become so popular that annual conventions are staged in Cleveland. This year’s convention was held Nov. 26-27 and featured appearances by seven original cast members — Randy, Flick, Scut Farkus and toady Grover Dill, Miss Shields the teacher and the two evil elves from Higbee’s department store.

The great thing about visiting the house and museum is that you might get to ask questions and learn interesting facts about the movie.

Like how they made Flick’s tongue stick to the flagpole. They used an air compressor and hose that created the needed suction through a small opening in the flagpole.

Or how “His End Up” got labeled on the wooden shipping crate containing “The Major Award.” It seems the union carpenters made the box too big and it wouldn’t fit through the door, so they had to saw off 2 inches. And that’s how the letter “T” disappeared.

And the reason they chose Cleveland? Many of the scenes were shot in Toronto, Ontario, but director Bob Clark was looking for a friendly department store to shoot the Santa Claus scenes.

They found Higbee’s in Cleveland and a house in a blue-collar neighborhood near downtown. The rest is ‘Christmas Story” history.

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Billingsley Joins Production Team for A CHRISTMAS STORY

December 3rd, 2010 by Ralphie

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Peter Billingsley, the actor who starred as the nine-year-old bespectacled hero “Ralphie” in the 1983 irreverent holiday film classic A Christmas Story, has signed on as a producer of the new musical adaptation of the perennial favorite, currently in previews at Seattle’s5th Avenue Theatre. Billingsley, who has since gone on to a successful career in Hollywood as an actor, producer and director, will be in Seattle to give production notes and to meet the 11-year-old actor Clarke Hallum, who plays Ralphie in A Christmas Story: The Musical.

“A Christmas Story has always meant a lot to me personally and to audiences worldwide,” said Peter Billingsley. I’m excited to bring this film to the stage because the story and the characters lend themselves so well to the exciting ingredients that become available in the world of musicals. Just think about the idea of a Leg Lamp Kickline! I am honored to be part of this brand new musical and look forward to bringing it to audiences everywhere.”

Peter Billingsley has been a member of the Hollywood community since the age of three, appearing in television commercials in the 1970s before jettisoning to fame with the holiday classic A Christmas Story in 1983, where he portrayed the unforgettable Red Ryder BB gun-seeking Ralphie Parker. Since then Billingsley has taken his talent behind the camera, bringing his comedic genius and impeccable timing to both film and television. As a producer, he has earned an Emmy nomination for the critically acclaimed Independent Film Channel TV show “Dinner for Five,” and has also worked as Executive Producer on the hit films The Break Up and Four Christmases with his longtime friend and collaborator Vince Vaughn, as well as working as producer on the 2008 blockbuster Iron Man. As a director, his most recent film was Couples Retreat, starring Vaughn and Jon Favreau, along with Malin Ackerman and Kristin Bell. Currently he’s developing the big screen adaptation of Melissa Marr’s fantasy novel “Wicked Lovely,” which Billingsley will produce along with Valeri Vaughn.

Peter joins commercial producers Gerald Goehring (Frankenstein: The Musical) and Michael Mitri (Frankenstein: The Musical), who have guided the production forward since its World Premiere at Kansas City Rep last season. Broadway producer Roy Miller (The Pee-Wee Herman Show, West Side Story revival) recently came onboard to help lead the production forward along with Pat Addiss (Promises, Promises; Spring Awakening), Louise H. Beard, Mariano Tolentino, Timothy Laczynski, Bartner/Jenkins Entertainment, Angela Milonas, and Bradford W. Smith. The producers are in the process of formulating post-Seattle plans for A Christmas Story: The Musical!

More about A Christmas Story:  The Musical!
Based on the stories of radio humorist Jean Shepherd and adapted from the hilarious 1983 family holiday film, A Christmas Story: The Musical! follows young Ralphie Parker, as he schemes his way towards the holiday gift of his dreams — a Red Ryder 200 Shot Carbine Action Air Rifle.  With its sparkling original score by Broadway’s hottest young composer/lyricist team Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, its wicked wit, and its heart of pure gold, A Christmas Story: The Musical! plays through December 30, 2010, and is a yuletide delight for the whole family.

Tickets for A Christmas Story: The Musical! are available by calling 206-625-1900 or toll-free at 888-5TH-4TIX (584-4849). Tickets can also be purchased online at and in person at the box office located at 1308 5th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101. Box office hours are Monday-Friday, 9:30 AM-5:30 PM.

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Peter Billingsley to Executive Produce ‘A Christmas Story’ Musical

December 3rd, 2010 by Ralphie

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Peter Billingsley — star of 1983’s A Christmas Story — has signed on to executive produce the musical adaptation of the film.

A Christmas Story has always meant a lot to me personally,” says Billingsley, who played 9-year-old Ralphie Parker. “I’m excited to bring this film to the stage because the story and the characters lend themselves so well to the world of musicals.”

With previews beginning Wednesday at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre (and running Dec. 9-30), A Christmas Story: The Musical! will remain loyal to the film adaptation of Jean Shepherd’s short stories and includes an original score from Broadway composing duo Benj Paske andJustin Paul.

After gaining household recognition as the Red Ryder BB Gun-seeking hero, Billingsley went to work behind the camera to produce such films as 2006’s The Break Up and 2008’s Four Christmases. He most recently made his feature-length directorial debut on 2009’s Couples Retreat.

“I am honored to be a part of this project and look forward to bringing the play to more stages,” says Billingsley. “Just think about the idea of a leg-lamp kickline.”

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‘A Christmas Story’ actors, including Ian ‘Randy’ Petrella, to be part of Cleveland convention

November 19th, 2010 by Ralphie

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by Julie Washington, The Plain Dealer

Many Hollywood actors keep their fans at arm’s length. Not Ian Petrella, who played little brother Randy Parker in the classic movie “A Christmas Story.” Petrella, 36, has been living in A Christmas Story House in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood since June, and plans to stay through the holidays, shaking hands, sharing stories and admiring the leg lamp in the front window.

He and other actors from the movie will be special guests at the “A Christmas Story”Convention held at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel and A Christmas Story House and Museum Friday through Sunday, Nov. 28.
“Helping to keep this movie alive is why I came back,” Petrella said.

Many Hollywood actors keep their fans at arm’s length. Not Ian Petrella, who played little brother Randy Parker in the classic movie “A Christmas Story.” Petrella, 36, has been living in A Christmas Story House in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood since June, and plans to stay through the holidays, shaking hands, sharing stories and admiring the leg lamp in the front window.

He and other actors from the movie will be special guests at the “A Christmas Story”Convention held at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel and A Christmas Story House and Museum Friday through Sunday, Nov. 28.
“Helping to keep this movie alive is why I came back,” Petrella said.

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A Chippendale Christmas Story

December 22nd, 2009 by Ralphie

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A special guest has moved into the house on West 11th Street that was made famous by the movie “A Christmas Story.”

“You can’t explain it. It’s a surreal moment right now,” said Billy Jeffrey.

Billy is a self-proclaimed obsessed fan of the 1983 movie who spent $4,200 in an online auction for a few nights in the Cleveland landmark.

“I get now to re-live ‘A Christmas Story’ for the next 48 hours and I’m pretty excited about that,” said Jeffrey.

This is the first time in Cleveland for the Chippendales dancer who usually spends his time on stage as a member of the all-male revue in Las Vegas.

“Everybody knows ‘A Christmas Story’ house. Everybody knows Chippendales. Put ‘em together, and here we are!”

The money from Billy’s experience helps educate northeast Ohioans through the Cleveland Scholarship Program.

“That it goes to the charity and it stays right here in Cleveland, it’s great,” said Jeffrey. “To be able to give back to a city that I’ve never been to, but I’ve been here now a couple days and I’m falling in love with, is a good feeling.”

This is the second time this fundraiser has been held at the “A Christmas Story” house. You can find out more about the house which is open year-round, by going to

The official Web site for Billy Jeffrey is

Fox 8 News Cleveland

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Reality TV star Billy Jeffrey spends $4,000 for holiday stay in Christmas Story House

December 22nd, 2009 by Ralphie

By Julie Washington, The Plain Dealer
December 22, 2009, 2:09PM

Billy Jeffrey Chippendale A Christmas Story House

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Billy Jeffrey paid more than $4,000 in an eBay auction to dress up in a bunny suit at The Christmas Story House.

But he also gained something priceless — a Christmas experience with his sister and brother-in-law, whom he wouldn’t have seen if not for his winning bid.

Jeffrey — a Lewiston, Idaho, businessman, reality television star and Chippendales performer — spent two nights this week living like Ralphie in the Tremont house used for exterior shots in the 1983 movie “A Christmas Story.”

Jeffrey, his sister Rachel Pierce and brother-in-law Sennett Pierce shot BB guns in the back yard, set a leg lamp in the window and crawled under the sink just like the kids in the movie.

Jeffrey even washed his mouth with Lifebuoy soap, the same way that little Ralphie is punished for cursing in the movie. How did it taste? Absolutely awful, Jeffrey reported.

The Christmas cult classic film stars Peter Billingsley as Ralphie Parker, a young boy determined to get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas.

Jeffrey, who declined to give his age, bid $4,200 in an online charity auction to benefit the Cleveland Scholarship Programs, which promotes educational awareness.

About 50 bidders entered the auction, said A Christmas Story House executive director Steve Siedlecki. The House, 3159 West 11th St., is open Wednesday and Christmas Eve but closed Christmas Day.

Jeffrey entered a similar Christmas Story House auction last year but was so busy working at a vitamin store he runs that the auction ended before he could increase his bid. “I was pretty bummed,” he said.

When this year’s auction was announced, he noticed that the Cleveland visit was scheduled to take place before Christmas. He knew that the Pierces, who work at a St. Louis hospital, could not take time off on Christmas. But Rachel Pierce, who loves “A Christmas Story,” too, said she and her husband could meet him in Cleveland if he won.

When the auction ticked down to close about 10 days ago, Jeffrey was touring Germany with the Chippendales exotic dance troupe. He clutched his BlackBerry and let out a whoop when he saw the words, “auction ended — you won!”

“All the guys were pumped. They all wanted to go,” he said. “I told them I needed to pick family.”

Jeffrey and the Pierces flew in Sunday night and took advantage of their free night at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel. Their other prizes include a Chinese turkey dinner, a guest appearance on WGAR FM/99.5′s Lanigan and Malone morning show and tickets to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

Jeffrey has been a “Christmas Story” fan since the first time he saw the movie as a boy in Idaho. He was a cast member on Fox’s “The Sexiest Bachelor in America” and the ABC reality TV series “True Beauty.”

Jeffrey and his family spent Monday night watching a DVD of “A Christmas Story,” then slept in the Christmas Story House. Wednesday called for Jeffrey posing for pictures on the staircase in that bunny suit.

The best part of the whole experience? Getting to spend it with family, he said.

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Dancer pays $4K to stay in ‘Christmas Story’ house

December 22nd, 2009 by Ralphie

CLEVELAND — A reality TV star gets to spend a couple of nights living like Ralphie in the house used for the movie “A Christmas Story.”

The experience is a “major award” for Billy Jeffrey, who says he’s obsessed with the 1983 film. He bid $4,200 in an online charity auction and was scheduled to make his sleepovers Monday and Tuesday nights.

The house in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood is now a tourist attraction.

The Christmas cult classic film stars Peter Billingsley as Ralphie Parker, a young boy determined to get a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas.

High bidder Jeffrey was a cast member on the ABC reality TV series “True Beauty” last winter and has toured as a Chippendales exotic dancer. He said Monday it was his first visit to Cleveland.

On the Net:

The Associated Press.

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Take a role in the Christmas Story House

December 6th, 2009 by Ralphie

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CLEVELAND — Even when it’s closed, they come, lured by “the soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window.”

Up the front steps they bound, cameras in hand, giggling. Then they stop on the porch, transfixed, before the familiar-looking window.

There it is!

Their holy grail.

The Major Award!


If your reaction is, “Huh?” then you must be one of the three people in the world who have never seen “A Christmas Story.” The 1983 movie has become a cult classic to the point that the TBS cable channel every Christmas broadcasts it continuously for 24 hours.

Of course, if you’ve seen the movie as many times as I and millions of others have, you know that the film’s main character is Ralphie, the 9-year-old who spends the movie plotting how to get an “official Red Ryder, Carbine Action, Two-Hundred Shot Range Model Air Rifle” for Christmas. And you know that Ralphie, his mom and dad, and brother Randy live in Hammond, Ind. And that Ralphie’s dad won the Leg Lamp, a large, gaudy, mesh-stockinged gam topped with a tassled shade, in a newspaper contest.

So, why are all these people going gaga over this house built in 1895 in Cleveland?

Because it’s the Christmas Story House, the house the movie’s creators chose when they were scouting for the 1940s feel they wanted, according to Steve Siedlecki, executive director for the house and accompanying museum.

Truth be told, though, most of the movie was shot on a soundstage in California that was built to mimic much of this house’s interior. Exterior shots of the house and back yard, location of the famous Black Bart shootout, were done here, though fake snow had to be brought in because of a scarcity of the natural stuff the year of filming. And scenes such as the tongue-frozen-to-the-pole and tire-changing were filmed in Canada.

But walk into this house, sit down on the couch, and you’ll feel as if you’re in the movie. Tucked away in a corner is the shipping box, labeled Fragile — “That must be Italian,” said Ralphie’s dad — that held the Leg Lamp.

Check out the upstairs bathroom and, of course, you’ll find a bar of Lifebuoy soap, just like Ralphie had to chomp on after uttering the dreaded f-word.

Californian Brian Jones bought the house, which had been “modernized” and was a rental duplex, in December 2005 after it was listed on eBay, and by the time he was done putting it back into a state that moviegoers would recognize, he had more than $400,000 into the project, according to Siedlecki. It opened Thanksgiving weekend 2006, and in August of this year it surpassed the 100,000 mark for attendance (which doesn’t take into account the hundreds of people who stop by during off-hours to peek through the front windows.

When the house first opened, it had plenty of “Don’t Touch” signs, Siedlecki said. But those signs have come down. “We encourage people to do what they want to re-enact the movie,” Siedlecki noted.

So, if you want to hide under the sink like Randy and have your photo taken, do it.

Just don’t be like Ralphie’s mom and break the Leg Lamp.

If you go Getting thereA Christmas Story House & Museum is at 3159 W. 11th St. in Cleveland, about 345 miles from Chicago via Interstate Highway 90. Get directions on the Web site (below), and don’t think you’re lost when you find yourself driving through a nondescript neighborhood.

VisitingThe house is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Until Dec. 31, it’s also open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays and until 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. It’s closed Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Tours run every half-hour, with the last tour at 4:30, and if you miss the guided tour, you can do a self-guided tour. Tickets must be purchased prior to the last tour at the gift shop. 216-298-4919;

In the vicinity On your way to or from A Christmas Story House, make a stop at the West Side Market, at West 25th and Lorain streets. The market has been operating since 1840 and is filled with tons of produce, spices and more sausages and other meat than you ever knew existed. Open 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. 216-664-3387;

And, don’t miss the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum downtown, whose big exhibit until spring is “From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen.” The hall is open 363 days a year from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and until 9 p.m. Wednesdays. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas. 216-781-7625;

– Phil Marty, Special to Tribune Newspapers

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Quick-trip getaway was ‘Positively Cleveland!’

May 20th, 2009 by Ralphie

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by Jeff Barr | Kalamazoo Gazette

The Cleveland Zoo’s snow leopard has his eye on you.

CLEVELAND – Seems like I’ve been running a little bit of everywhere in the last little while, taking weekend journeys just far enough from Kalamazoo to call them getaways.

The lodge at Boyne Mountain, the Renaissance Center in Detroit and last weekend, it was the Hyatt and a surprise in Cleveland.

The surprise? The city long ago mistakenly derided as “The Mistake on the Lake,” is no mistake at all. It’s less than 5 hours from Kalamazoo, and the only mistake would be to forego the opportunity to get in the car and hit a truly happenin’ town.

It’s a positively great place to go. I packed three days with memorable activities that (how do I say this?) were positively …. positively …

Positively Cleveland!

Here are just three of countless reasons to take a quick trip to Cleveland:

Animal attraction: Rhinos and leopards. Giraffes and armadillos. Sharks and kangaroos. I went absolutely ape for the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

This is a zoo worth at least one full day on your calendar. It’s so much more than a place to see animals, although that is worth the price of admission.

Wildlife culture and conservation concentration area also big parts of the Cleveland Zoo. It has more than a few endangered species, including a condor, the largest flying bird in the world. There are less than 500 condors left and one of the magnificent birds resides in Cleveland.

A day at the zoo not only is sensory overload of beautiful sights and wild sounds, but it’s also a whale of a learning experience. No, there are no whales at the zoo. At least not yet.

Visit to check out the latest news.

“I can’t put my arms down!”: Those of you who count yourselves among the cult followers of the 1983 classic, “A Christmas Story,” might be surprised to know you can take a trip back in time with Ralphie and Randy at the house where scenes of the movie were shot.

Ralphie’s and Randy’s house lives on.

The home, in an old neighborhood a few miles from Downtown Cleveland, is both iconic and ironic. Surely, it’s a great time to be in the 1940s kitchen, living room, staircase and front porch of the Parker family. The irony of the home is that a place where the great fear was that “Daddy’s gonna kill Ralphie,” actually brings to life a movie that’s become a holiday ritual for millions.

The place is authentic as it can be. From the old-fashioned radio in the living room, to the family Christmas tree, to the bar of Lifebuoy soap Ralphie was forced to put in his mouth for foul language. You want authenticity? The soap is imprinted with teeth marks.

And, of course, there’s the legendary Red Ryder Leg Lamp, which, by the way, is available at

No loss of the Boss: I just happened to be in town when a Bruce Springsteen exhibit was on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Downtown Cleveland. Lovers of the Boss have the fourth and fifth floors of the museum all to themselves.

Bruce Springsteen on display.

The Springsteen memorabilia included early publicity posters, hand-written songs, gold records, an Oscar, a sparkling Harley-Davidson and his vintage Corvette convertible. All of this is taken in while watching Springsteen performances on a mini-theater screen.

Even those who don’t care for Springsteen (are there any of you out there?) have plenty to view and hear on the first three floors at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The rockin’ museum’s top two floors are devoted to the New Jersey rocker throughout the spring, but the first three are rock and roll heaven year round.

Mementos, memorabilia and music from the Beatles, Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones and a full chorus of other stars make the place a rumbling hall of greatness.

For more information, visit

Jeff Barr’s column is published in Sunday’s Kalamazoo Gazette, and a second column is posted online during the week. Reach him at 388-8581 or

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