Here’s what the original cast members did between the 1983 holiday hit and A Christmas Story Christmas, which will air on HBO in 2022.
Peter Billingsley had already done a lot of acting by the time he was 11 and starred in A Christmas Story. He was nominated for two Young Artist Awards for his roles in the 1981 comedy Paternity and as a co-host on the NBC show Real People.
He got another Young Artist nomination for playing Ralphie Parker, but that’s not the highest award he’s been up for. He finally won a Young Artist Award for playing the lead role in The Dirt Bike Kid in 1985, which was his fourth nomination. Billingsley made several guest appearances on TV shows like Who’s the Boss, The Wonder Years, and Punky Brewster after the 1983 holiday classic. In 1995, he was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for a single episode of the CBS Schoolbreak Special.
With the exception of a few cameos (yes, that’s him in 2003’s “Elf”), Billingsley has spent most of his adult life working behind the camera, and he told PEOPLE in October 2022 that he has “mostly been driven by making movies.” In 2005, he was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for the show Dinner for Five, which starred his friend Vince Vaughn. Christmas with the Campbells, which comes out in theaters and on AMC+ on Dec. 2, was made with their help.
Billingsley was excited to use the filmmaking skills he’s gained over the years to bring Ralphie back in A Christmas Story Christmas. Billingsley recently talked to PEOPLE and said, “It was nice to be able to combine my writing, producing, and acting into one.”
Melinda Dillon was a well-known actress on Broadway and in Hollywood before becoming the Parker family’s head. She was nominated for two Academy Awards for her roles in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and Absence of Malice (1981), both directed by Steven Spielberg. She was also nominated for a Golden Globe in 1976 for her role in the Woody Guthrie biopic Bound for Glory. In 1963, when she made her Broadway debut in the first version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, she was also up for a Tony Award.
Dillon stopped acting in 2007, but not before taking on a few more major roles. Julie Hagerty will play Mrs. Parker in the 2022 sequel to A Christmas Story. After telling Ralphie Parker he’d “shoot his eye out” with his Red Ryder BB gun, the actress went on to star with John Lithgow in Harry and the Hendersons and in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, which earned her and her castmates a Golden Globe nomination for outstanding performance.
Ralphie’s grumpy but loving father, who was played by Darren McGavin and was called “The Old Man” in the movie, has moved fans for decades. The actor, who died in 2006, had been in show business for a long time by the time he played The Old Man on screen in 1983. He was in original Broadway shows like “My Three Angels” and “Rainmaker,” and he was in movies like “Summertime” with Katharine Hepburn in the 1950s.
Before he starred in A Christmas Story, McGavin was the main character in the TV movie The Night Stalker and the ABC show that was based on it. After he played The Old Man, he kept playing parents in other movies and TV shows. McGavin played Adam Sandler’s dad in the 1995 movie Billy Madison. He was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for his role as the main character’s father in the TV show Murphy Brown.
A Tale of Christmas The Old Man dies unexpectedly at the start of Christmas, and McGavin’s former on-screen son says that the sequel is “in many ways a love letter to the character of the Old Man and to Darren himself.” Billingsley kept talking to people and said, “The best person was Darren. He was such a great actor and person, and he taught me a lot while we were making the first movie. It was like having another dad.”
The voice that introduces each vignette in A Christmas Story isn’t just a narrator. It’s Jean Shepherd, a broadcaster, comedian, and the person who is most like Ralphie Parker in real life. Shepherd’s semi-autobiographical collection of short stories, In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, which came out in 1966, was the basis for the hit holiday movie.
Some people call Shepherd the first “radio novelist.” He was already well-known as a writer and radio host before his holiday flashbacks were made into a movie, but he never stopped being funny and telling stories until he died in 1999. In fact, Shepherd kept bringing the stories that inspired A Christmas Story to life in another movie, A Summer Story, which came out in 1994.
Shepherd left a large legacy in the comedy world. Jerry Seinfeld has talked about how the late author influenced his own sense of humor, and in 2005, he named his third child after him as a tribute.
Ian Petrella, who played Ralphie’s little brother Randy Parker, was only 8 years old when he did this. Petrella kept working as an actor after A Christmas Story. He was in shows like Diff’rent Strokes, Who’s the Boss?, and Beverly Hills, 90210.
During the 2000s, he stopped acting and found a new calling while traveling around Europe. He stayed in the Czech Republic so that he could learn how to make marionette puppets. When he returned to the U.S., he went back into show business. He started making animated shorts before he joined A Christmas Story Christmas, the HBO sequel to the holiday favorite.
Zack Ward played the bully Scut Farkus in A Christmas Story. He has been on many popular TV shows, such as NCIS, Lost, and American Horror Story, and in several big movies, such as Almost Famous and Transformers. On the show Titus, he also played the half-brother of the main character, Titus, Dave Scouvel.
In 2018, Ward told PEOPLE how he became Scut Farkus in 1983, a role he later played again in the 2022 sequel. Yano Anaya got the part of the bad guy’s sidekick after several auditions. Ward got the part of the bad guy’s sidekick.
Ward told PEOPLE on the 35th anniversary of A Christmas Story, “I only had like two lines, and I showed up on set right next to Yano Anaya and met [director] Bob Clark for the first time.” “He saw that I was a foot taller than Yano and told me, “You get his lines, and he gets yours.” So Scut Farkus became the bully, and I became the most beloved Christmas jackass.
Before he played Flick, one of Ralphie’s best and most daring friends in A Christmas Story, Scott Schwartz had just finished his first big comedy role in The Toy with Richard Pryor and Jackie Gleason. Schwartz was in the made-for-TV movie A Time to Live with Liza Minnelli, Corey Haim, and Jeffrey DeMunn just two years after he famously froze his tongue to a pole for a movie trick.
By the end of the 1980s, Schwartz and his father had opened a store called Sports and Movies Stuff, which was a good name for it. The former child star has kept going with his business of selling sports memorabilia. He has written for sports magazines and even made his own line of trading cards of famous people. Schwartz didn’t stop acting for good, though. He took the chance to play Flick again in A Christmas Story Christmas.
In 1983, when he played the main character’s friend Schwartz in A Christmas Story, R.D. Robb was new to the show business. Robb got a few small TV and movie roles in the 1990s. He played Roy in Matilda and was in ER’s second season for one episode.
Robb eventually went behind the camera, and in 1995, he directed Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire in an independent drama called Don’s Plum (which the two stars prevented from being shown in the United States or Canada).
Before coming back as Schwartz for the holiday season sequel, Robb had a three-episode run on The Goldbergs.
Yano Anaya played a young Michael Anthony Jr. in Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher” music video. This was right after he was in “A Christmas Story.” He was in a few more movies in the late 1980s before becoming a fitness and body transformation expert. Along with his plans to act again in A Christmas Story Christmas in 2022, the man who played the bully Grover Dill recently said that he would like to buy the house from the movie.
Ralphie Parker’s teacher, Miss Shields, was played by Tedde Moore in both A Christmas Story and its sequel, A Summer Story, which came out in 1994. She has been in movies and TV shows as an actress and voiceover artist. Moore’s Christmas spirit came out again in 2011 when she played Mrs. Claus in the TV movie Mistletoe Over Manhattan.