The annual tradition of 24 hours of “A Christmas Story” — the iconic 1982 movie about Ralphie and his Chicago family — begins Christmas Eve at 8 p.m. on WTBS. It has a spot in our family tradition because my oldest son Howie was nicknamed Ralphie by my wonderful neighbors — the Wood family.
Howie, born in 1986, loved the movie. He’s on the road today — coming home from Virginia, so he is on my mind. When he had to get glasses in 1989 as a tot, red was the only selection he would consider for eyewear “because they looked like Ralphie’s.” Howie had some severe eye-crossing that was later corrected by surgery, but he managed those glasses and sports glasses like a trooper. This picture of him with my daughter, Kelly, still hangs on our refrigerator. My youngest son, Ryan, is not in this picture because he wasn’t born yet.
CBS Sunday Morning had a great piece on “A Christmas Story” this morning. Here’s the link. The tale written by Jean Shepherd, is a part of Americana. Terrific 41-year-old Peter Billingsley — who played Ralphie — has produced it as a Broadway musical. Here are some fun facts about the movie:
- It never hit the bigtime until it hit cable.
- It was added to the Library of Congress this year.
- The original home in Cleveland sold on eBay in 2004 for $150,000 to Brian Jones who restored it to as a museum complete with props from the film. Read more here. He even gets into the cupboard under the sink.
- Jean Shepherd voiced and wrote two sequels, says Mentalfloss.com: a 1988 TV movie, “Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss” with a 14-year-old Ralphie, played by Jerry O’Connell and My Summer Story, or “It Runs in the Family,” a 1994 flick starring Kieran Culkin, brother of Macaulay, as Ralphie.
- More from Mentalfloss.com: Jack Nicholson was supposedly interested in playing Ralphie’s dad. The late Darren McGavin got the nod. I cannot imagine Nicholson in the role.
- You can buy the leg lamp in dozens of different sizes. Homeowners on West Gore Road and Clinton Street in Millcreek have one prominently displayed in their window.
- Jean Shepherd’s crazy stories first appeared in Playboy magazine.
The WTBS tradition of 24 hours of “A Christmas Story” dates back to 1997. I wrap presents to it every year. Here’s to all the Raphies out there.