It has been 35 years since the release of A Christmas Story, director Bob Clark’s 1983 holiday film that followed the story of Ralphie Parker, played by Peter Billingsley. Fans of this holiday classic will no doubt have fond memories of leg lamps, pink bunny suits, turkey-eating hounds, and a coveted Red Ryder carbine action BB gun.
The movie, based on radio storyteller Jean Shepherd’s 1966 story collection, In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash, wasn’t an instant hit when it was released on November 18, 1983, but it has become a small screen classic thanks to annual 24-hour TV marathons on TV.
While the movie is on heavy rotation on TV, many fans want to know what happened to the supersized cast of the festive flick.
Peter Billingsley (Ralphie)
Peter Billingsley was just 12 years old when he debuted the role of Ralphie in A Christmas Story. The actor had already been known as “Messy Marvin” in the Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup commercials of the 1970s, but his role as Ralphie solidified him as a pop culture icon.
Billingsley continued to act and went on to become an accomplished producer and director. In 2003, Billingsley popped up as an elf in the Will Ferrell comedy, Elf, and has gone on to produce several projects with pals Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Couples Retreat), while also serving as executive director of A Christmas Story: The Musical. Last year, Billingsley told Playbill that while A Christmas Story was “a big disappointment at the box office… in many ways, it was the little engine that could.”
“It took about 12 years to get made. Bob Clark and Jean Shepherd fought so hard to get it set up, and MGM sort of reluctantly agreed to the financing. So, it was really…devotion to the work and not to the hype…Also, as a kid, it was great because we shot it right after Christmas and the producers had convinced downtown Cleveland to keep all the Christmas decorations up. So it was like Christmas every day when you went to work, and it’s my favorite holiday, so that was a lot of fun.”
— blogTO (@blogTO) November 10, 2018
Darren McGavin (The Old Man)
The former Kolchak: The Night Stalker star was not the original choice to play Ralphie’s dad, Mr. Parker — Jack Nicholson was originally considered for the role of the Old Man — but it became his most memorable role. The Emmy-nominated McGavin worked steadily as an actor in movies and TV until his death in 2006 at the age of 83.
Melinda Dillon (Ralphie’s Mom)
The Oscar-nominated actress (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Absence of Malice) is now 79 years old. After A Christmas Story, she continued to act for more than 20 years. IMDB lists Dillon’s last role in 2007 on a three-episode arc on the TV series Heartland.
Ian Petrella (Randy Parker)
Ralphie’s little brother found his way out of his giant snowsuit and continued to act and perform for several years, ultimately becoming the youngest member of the iconic L.A. comedy troupe the Groundlings when he was just 17. Petrella also studied puppetry and animation and has worked as a cartoonist.
Scott Schwartz (Flick)
The kid who was “triple dog dared” into licking a frozen flagpole went on manage a sports and movie memorabilia collectibles store before he dipped into the adult film industry in the 1990s, according to A Christmas Story House. In 2006, Schwartz returned to the collectibles business and started a line of celebrity-based trading cards. He still acts on occasion.
R.D. Robb (Schwartz)
Ralphie’s foul-mouthed pal also continued to work as an actor, appearing in The Brady Bunch Movie as Marcia Brady’s date Charlie Anderson in 1995. That same year he faced controversy over a film short he directed, Don’s Plum, when he was sued by stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire. More recently, Schwartz played a headshot photographer in a 2017 episode of the ABC sitcom The Goldbergs.
Tedde Moore (Miss Shields)
The apple of Ralphie’s eye continues to act to this day. The 73-year-old actress most recently appeared in the 2017 holiday movie Magical Christmas Ornaments.
Zack Ward (Scut Farkus)
The actor, best known as the bully with the yellow eyes who got into a fistfight with Ralphie, has logged a steady acting resume in the years since A Christmas Story, including roles in Deadwood, American Horror Story, and Transformers. Today, Ward is CEO of The Global Sports Financial Exchange, which allows fans to buy and trade shares of their favorite sports teams, according to Page Six.
Yano Anaya (Grover Dill)
Scut Farkus’s “crummy little toadie” didn’t do much acting after A Christmas Story, but he did play the young version of Van Halen bass player Michael Anthony in the band’s iconic “Hot For Teacher” video. Today, Anaya works as a personal trainer.
Jean Shepherd (Narrator/Adult Ralphie)
Sadly, author and radio host Jean Shepherd, who not only narrated A Christmas Story, but also had a cameo — he played the angry man who directed Ralphie to the end of the Santa Claus line in the department store scene — died in 1999 at the age of 78.
You can see the original trailer to A Christmas Story below.