By the time he melted hearts at age 11 A Christmas storyPeter Billingsley had quite a bit of acting experience and even had two Young Artist Award nominations for his work in the 1981 comedy Paternity and for his co-hosting role on the NBC series Real people.
His starring role as Ralphie Parker earned him another Young Artist nomination, but that’s certainly not the highest accolade he’s up for (he eventually won a Young Artist Award with his fourth nomination, for his starring role in 1985’s The kid of the dirt bike). Following the 1983 season classic, Billingsley made several guest appearances on television shows such as Who is the boss, The Wonder Years and Punky Brewster. He earned a Daytime Emmy nomination for a single episode of the CBS Schoolbreak Special in 1995.
With a few other cameo exceptions (yes, that’s him in 2003’s Eleven), Billingsley began to focus on behind-the-camera work in adulthood, becoming “mainly driven by filmmaking”, as he told PEOPLE in October 2022. In 2005, he earned a Primetime Emmy nomination for his production work on Dinner for five starring his friend Vince Vaughn. The two recently teamed up to produce Christmas with the Campbellsin theaters and on AMC+ from December 2.
As for his return to Ralphie with A Christmas Story Christmas, Billingsley was excited to combine the filmmaking skills he has acquired over the years. “It was a great opportunity to channel my writing, producing and acting all back into one,” Billingsley said in his recent conversation with PEOPLE.
Before becoming the matriarch of the Parker family, Melinda Dillon was an established actress on Broadway and in Hollywood. She was nominated for two Academy Awards, for her performances in Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind in 1977 and in 1981 Absence of malice. She also won a Golden Globe in 1976 for her role in the biopic Woody Guthrie Bound for gloryand was eligible for a Tony Award with her Broadway debut in the original 1963 production Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Dillon retired from acting in 2007 (Ms. Parker is played by Julie Hagerty in A Christmas story‘s 2022 sequel), but not before taking on a few more major roles. After warning Ralphie Parker that he would “pop his eyes out” with his Red Ryder BB pistol, the actress moved on to star John Lithgow. Harry and the Hendersons and appeared in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnoliawhich earned her and her castmates a Golden Globe nomination for Outstanding Performance.
Darren McGavin’s portrayal of Ralphie’s grumpy but loving father, known simply as “The Old Man” in the movie, has moved generations of fans. The actor, who passed away in 2006, was already a showbiz veteran in 1983 when he brought The Old Man to life on screen. He performed in original Broadway productions such as My three angels and Rainmaker and starred in mid-century feature films such as Daylight saving time with Katharine Hepburn.
McGavin was on small screens all his career – before that A Christmas storyhe played the lead role in the TV movie The nocturnal stalker and the ABC series spin-off. After taking on The Old Man, he continued to play a parent in various shows and movies. McGavin played Adam Sandler’s father Bill Madison in 1995, and he received a Primetime Emmy nomination for his portrayal of the lead actor’s father in Murphy Brown.
A Christmas Story Christmas begins with The Old Man’s unexpected death, and according to McGavin’s on-screen former son, the sequel is “in many ways a love letter to the Old Man character and to Darren himself.” Speaking to PEOPLE, Billingsley continued, “Darren was the best. He was such a gifted actor and such a wonderful person and such a mentor to me on the first movie, and it was like I [another] dad.”
The voice each presents A Christmas story Vignette is more than just a narrator – it’s Jean Shepherd, a broadcast personality, humorist, and the closest thing to a real Ralphie Parker. The hit holiday film is based on Shepherd’s semi-autobiographical collection of short stories In God we trust, everyone else pays in cashpublished in 1966.
Known as the first “radio writerShepherd was well established by some as a writer and on-air host prior to the filming of his celebratory flashbacks, but he retained his talent for comedy and storytelling until his death in 1999. In fact, Shepherd continued to bring to life the stories that inspired A Christmas story with another big screen adaptation, the 1994 film A summer story.
Past A Christmas storyThrough his impact, Shepherd has left a wide legacy in the comedy world: Jerry Seinfeld has shared how the late author influenced his own humor, even paying tribute to him through the name of his third child in 2005.
The actor behind Ralphie’s little brother, Ian Petrella, was just 8 years old when he played little Randy Parker. After A Christmas storyPetrella continued his acting career with appearances in, among others Different strokes, Who is the boss? and Beverly Hills, 90210.
During the years he broke away from acting and he found a new calling while traveling in Europe. He stayed in the Czech Republic to study the art of marionette puppetry. When he returned to the United States, he dove back into show business and began making animated shorts before signing on for the holiday favorite’s HBO sequel, A Christmas Story Christmas.
A Christmas Story’s memorable bully Scut Farkus was played by Zack Ward, who has appeared on many popular TV shows, including NCIS, Lost and American horror storyand several big movies like Almost Famous and Transformers. He also starred as Dave Scouvel, the titular character’s half-brother Titus.
In 2018, Ward gave PEOPLE the scoop on how he ended up as Scut Farkus in 1983, a role he reprized for the 2022 sequel. After several auditions, Ward originally landed the role of the antagonizer’s sidekick, which was played by Yano Anaya.
“I only had two lines and I appeared on set next to Yano Anaya and met [director] Bob Clark for the first time,” Ward told PEOPLE in honor of A Christmas story‘s 35th birthday. “He saw that I was a foot taller than Yano and said, ‘You understand his text, he understands yours.’ So Scut Farkus became the bully and I became Christmas’ beloved bastard.”
Scott Schwartz was just a year away from his first major comedic role in The toysstarring Richard Pryor and Jackie Gleason before becoming Flick, one of Ralphie’s closest and most daring friends in A Christmas story. Just two years after Schwartz memorably froze his tongue to a stick in the name of movie magic, he starred alongside Liza Minnelli, Corey Haim, and Jeffrey DeMunn in the 1985 made-for-TV movie. A time to live.
By the late ’80s, Schwartz and his father had started a memorabilia store aptly named Sports and Movies Stuff. The former child star has continued his sports collection business. He has written for sports publications and even started his own line of celebrity trading cards. However, Schwartz did not retire from acting completely and took the opportunity to re-record Flick in A Christmas Story Christmas.
R D Robb
RD Robb was new to show business in 1983, playing Schwartz, a friend of A Christmas story‘s kid protagonist. In the ’90s, Robb landed a few small TV and movie roles – playing Roy Matilda and appeared in ER‘s second season for a single episode.
Robb eventually ventured behind the camera, and in 1995 even directed Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire in an indie drama called Don’s Plum (those two stars prevented from being displayed in the United States or Canada).
Robb’s most recent acting gig before reviving Schwartz for the holiday season sequel was a three-episode series The Goldbergs.
Just after A Christmas story, Yano Anaya appeared in Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher” music video as a young Michael Anthony Jr. In the late ’80s, he appeared in a number of other films before eventually becoming an expert on fitness and body transformation. Along with his return to acting for A Christmas Story Christmas in 2022, the man behind bully Grover Dill recently shown interest when buying the iconic home from the movie.
Tedde Moore, who played Ralphie Parker’s teacher Miss Shields, was the only one A Christmas story cast member to reprise her role for the 1994 sequel A summer story. She appeared in movies and TV shows as an actress and voiceover artist. In 2011, Moore rekindled her Christmas spirit by playing Mrs. Claus in the TV movie Mistletoe over Manhattan.