What You Might Not Know About “A Christmas Story”

1. Jack Nicholson was originally interested in the role of The Old Man, but the film’s budget was too small to afford him.

2. Peter Billingsley, the actor who played Ralphie, was the first child who auditioned for director Bob Clark. Clark figured he couldn’t hire the first child he saw audition, so he auditioned thousands of others before deciding to cast Billingsley as Ralphie anyway.

3. One of the thousands of kids who auditioned was Wil Wheaton, who read for the role of Ralphie the same day as a young Sean Astin, who would go on to star in The Goonies.

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4. Clark and Billingsley remained close after filming, and Billingsley said Clark was “the most significant mentor in [his] life.”

5. A Christmas Story is based on Jean Shepherd’s 1966 book, In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash.

6. The book started as a series of short stories published in Playboy.

MGM

7. Shepherd is the voice of the narrator in the film, and makes a brief cameo in the department store scene as Ralphie and Randy wait to see Santa.

8. Shepherd was originally on the set while filming was going on, but was eventually asked to leave because he was telling the actors how to play their scenes.

MGM

9. Ralphie had other fantasy sequences that were filmed but eventually cut, including a dream with Flash Gordon.

10. In the famous “Oh, fudge!” scene, Billingsley is actually saying “fuck” in every take (and Billingsley said it was definitely not the first time he’d heard that word).

11. The Lifebuoy soap Ralphie holds in his mouth as punishment is actually a wax mold.

12. In the fantasy sequence when Ralphie is shooting bandits out the window of the family house, holding his BB gun and chewing tobacco, he has real chewing tobacco in his mouth. Billingsley said he started getting “really dizzy, sweating, [his] lips started burning.”

13. When A Christmas Story first opened, it only made $19.3 million.

14. Jon Favreau had Billingsley sign a Red Ryder BB gun for him when they worked together on the set of Swingers.

15. Billingsley was a producer on Iron Man in 2008.

16. In 2004, San Deigo entrepreneur Brian Jones bought the house in Cleveland where A Christmas Story was filmed for $150,000 on eBay.

17. Jones then “spent $240,000 to gut the interior and transform the house into a near-exact copy of the movie set.”

18. You can now visit the house in Cleveland for $10 and also check out the accompanying museum and gift shop.

19. You can also bid on eBay to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the house. The package includes over $800 in gifts, including a bunny suit and an iconic leg lamp. All proceeds go to charity.

Flickr: Clark K3nt / Via Flickr: clark_k3nt

20. In the scene when Flick freezes his tongue to the flagpole, there was a suction tube inside the pole that made it look like his tongue was stuck.

21. Mythbusters proved that you can indeed freeze your tongue to a pole. They found that “cold metal can draw heat out of your tongue’s saliva and freeze its water content, basically transforming your spit into a kind of superglue.”

22. There’s a bronze statue of the famous flagpole scene on permanent display at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond, Indiana — Jean Shepherd’s hometown.

23. Scott Schwartz, who played Flick, has appeared in several adult films under the name Scotty Schwartz.

24. There are two sequels to A Christmas Story: Ollie Hopnoodle’s Haven of Bliss (1988), a made-for-TV movie written by Jean Shepherd, and My Summer Story (1994), starring Kieran Culkin as Ralphie.

25. Three iconic leg lamps were made for filming, and all three were broken during production.

26. Billingsley owns the iconic pink bunny suit and BB gun, and the glasses that get broken after he “shoots his eye out” were his own.

27. The boy in the goggles who’s waiting next to Ralphie to see Santa is not an actor. He was a real kid in the department store, and Clark decided to use him in the scene.

MGM

28. A documentary called Road Trip for Ralphie documents two “mega-fans” of the film who travel to the film’s different production locations in both Cleveland and Canada in “an adventure spanning two years.”

29. In the film’s final scene, the actors weren’t told the waiters in the Chinese restaurant were going to sing, so all their reactions are genuine.