Just like eggnog, candy canes and mistletoe, 1983’s A Christmas Story has become a cherished holiday tradition. And unlike fruitcakes, we never tire of seeing it pop up around this time of year. That’s because A Christmas Story cast members have become like real-life relatives to fans of the quirky, irreverent comedy.
“They really feel like it’s their family. And they all have a tradition around it, how they watch it together, or they wait to watch it with their parents,” Peter Billingsley, who played Ralphie, has said of the film’s timeless appeal.
And everyone’s love for the movie’s unforgettable lines and jokes — “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!”, Ralphie’s bunny suit, Flick’s tongue getting frozen to a pole after a triple-dog-dare, “Frajeeelay…it must be Italian!”— just keeps growing.
“It never ceases to amaze me. Every time I think, well, gosh…this is going to start waning, it seems to pass to the next generation and the excitement grows every Christmas,” Billingsley told News 5 Cleveland in October, ahead of the A Christmas Story cast reuniting in Ohio for the film’s 40th anniversary. Cleveland is home to the A Christmas Story House and Museum, which served as the exterior for the Parker family’s abode.
In 2022, Billingsley and most of the A Christmas Story cast also got back together for a sequel, Max’s A Christmas Story Christmas. “One day you’re playing kick the can with kids named Flick and Schwartz, and the next thing you know you’re a certified adult,” Ralphie says in the trailer for the film, in which he returns home after his father passes and strives to make the holiday a fun one for his own two kids.
“It feels like it’s hitting the right chord of comedy and emotion for [fans],” the actor said of the film. “I think they’re just excited to revisit these characters, see where they are and spend some more time with them.”
We couldn’t agree more, Ralphie! So grab your Red Ryder BB gun (if you were lucky enough to get one) and read on to find out what the A Christmas Story cast is up to now.
Peter Billingsley as Ralphie Parker
Peter Billingsley had been doing commercials since the age of 3 (remember Hershey Syrup’s Messy Marvin spots?) leading up to his role at 12 as adorable Ralphie Parker. After A Christmas Story, he went on to land small parts on shows such as Punky Brewster (1985-86), Highway to Heaven (1985) and The Wonder Years (1993). In 1994, he earned an Emmy nomination for The Writing on the Wall, a CBS Schoolbreak Special about antisemitism.
As Billingsley got older, he turned to work behind the camera, winning an Emmy nomination as the co-executive producer on the IFC talk show Dinner for Five (2001), hosted by Jon Favreau. Billingsley had a bit part in Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn’s The Break-Up (2006), a film on which he also served as executive producer. He did similar double duty on Iron Man in 2008, executive producing while appearing as William Ginta Riva, a role he’d play again in Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019).
Of course, holiday movies will always be ho-ho-home for Billingsley, now 52 with two kids of his own: He popped up in Elf (2003) in an uncredited role, and he served as a producer for Four Christmases (2008), which starred Reese Witherspoon and his longtime pal and collaborator Vaughn.
He started co-hosting A Cinematic Christmas Journey, a podcast created by Vaughn that launched in 2022, and he even returned as Ralphie for the sequel A Christmas Story Christmas (2022). “The truth is that Ralphie really never left me,” he told Entertainment Weekly of stepping back into the role, and he was excited to work again with almost all of the 1983 film’s cast. “We had such a good experience on the original that everyone kept in touch,” he shared.
Melinda Dillon as Mother Parker
Before she was Mother Parker, Melinda Dillon had earned two supporting actress Oscar nominations (for 1977’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind and 1981’s Absence of Malice). She’d also gotten a 1963 Tony nomination for playing Honey in the original Broadway production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
After starring in A Christmas Story as Ralphie’s mom, Dillon continued to appear in major films such as 1987’s Harry and the Hendersons, 1991’s The Prince of Tides (with Barbra Streisand) and 1999’s Magnolia. She also had a small recurring role on Treat Williams’ Heartland TV series in 2007.
The actress had retired years before 2022’s A Christmas Story Christmas was made, so her role was picked up by Julie Hagerty. When Dillon passed away in January 2023 at the age of 83, Billingsley paid tribute to her on Instagram. “She was kind, supportive, cool, thoughtful, giving and committed,” he wrote. “I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to call her my on-screen mother.”
Darren McGavin as The Old Man Parker
Ralphie’s dad was played by Darren McGavin, a TV actor best known for starring as the lead in Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer in the late ’50s, as well as the title character in 1974’s Kolchak: The Night Stalker series, a short-lived cult hit.
He also appeared in films such as Airport ’77 (1977) and Disney’s Hot Lead and Cold Feet (1978). After his appearance as the head of the Parker household, McGavin starred as bookmaker Gus Sands in 1984’s The Natural (starring Robert Redford) and co-starred on the big screen with Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1986’s Raw Deal. In 1990, he earned an Emmy nomination for his recurring guest role as the father of Candice Bergen’s title character on CBS’s Murphy Brown.
The following year, he won a CableACE Award for his role in Arthur Miller’s Clara on A&E. After joining Adam Sandler in 1995’s Billy Madison and popping up on The X-Files a couple times in the late ’90s, McGavin’s career started to wind down.
The actor passed away in 2006 at the age of 83.
Ian Petrella as Randy Parker
Ian Petrella was just 8 when he played Ralphie’s whiny little brother Randy, aka Mommy’s little piggie. Small roles followed throughout the ’80s on sitcoms such as Diff’rent Strokes, Who’s the Boss? and My Sister Sam.
By his later teen years, he was studying improvisation with The Groundlings troupe in LA, which led to a successful venture into the puppeteering world. He later worked on Brats of the Lost Nebula, a late ’90s WB series that used characters from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.
In 2010, he served as a tour guide at Cleveland’s A Christmas Story house tourist attraction, before making an even bigger return home for 2022’s A Christmas Story Christmas sequel. These days, Petrella, who turns 49 in December, is still exploring his passion for both puppets and animation.
Zack Ward as Scott “Scut” Farkus
Zack Ward will forever be remembered as the holiday classic’s heavy, Scott “Scut” Farkus, the bully who loved to make Ralphie squirm in A Christmas Story cast. After that role, Ward enjoyed small parts on TV throughout the next couple of decades, including on Party of Five, Walker, Texas Ranger, Nash Bridges and NYPD Blue.
In 2000, he appeared on the big screen in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous, and that same year he returned to the world of Anne of Green Gables for a new miniseries, having done a few episodes of an earlier Anne of Green Gables project in 1985.
Ward, 53, also returned for A Christmas Story Christmas in 2022. “It’s a once in a lifetime, twice, experience,” he told Fox 5 Atlanta, adding that he was raising funds for the Alzheimer’s Association at the movie’s tourist attraction home in Cleveland in honor of his dad, who was diagnosed with the disease. Fans can still book Ward for a personalized movie-themed greeting these days on Cameo.
Scott Schwartz as Flick
After appearing as Richard Pryor‘s pint-sized sidekick in 1982’s The Toy, starring Jackie Gleason, Schwartz went on to star as Flick, the unfortunate soul who got his tongue stuck on a pole, in A Christmas Story. Scattered TV and movie roles followed, as well as a string of nonsexual roles in the adult film industry later in life.
By 2000, the actor refocused on more mainstream works and causes, such as a leadership role at A Minor Consideration, “a non-profit support and assistance foundation to aid former child stars” that was founded by The Donna Reed Show’s Paul Petersen. Now a major player in the trading card business, Schwartz, now 55, also appeared in A Christmas Story Christmas.
Yano Anaya as Grover Dill
As Grover Dill, one of the tiny terrors in Farkus’ band of bullies in A Christmas Story cast, Yano Anaya went from constantly putting people in hot water in the film to being in Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher” video the following year, portraying the younger version of the band’s bassist, Michael Anthony Jr. Other films followed, such as 1985’s Better Off Dead and 1988’s The Blue Iguana.
Anaya, who is now 51, also became an exercise science educator, but he did return for 2022’s A Christmas Story Christmas. The former “little toady,” as he calls himself, recently helped promote Cleveland’s 40th anniversary celebration of the film in November 2023, winkingly telling fans to buy tickets “or you will get a snowball sandwich!”
Tedde Moore as Miss Shields
The original film was “full of warmth and happiness” Tedde Moore, who played the teacher Miss Shields in the 1983 film, said at a 2009 festival for the movie in Cleveland. The actor, now 78, had enjoyed some small TV success before her now iconic role in the holiday classic, which she reprised in 1994’s My Summer Story, one of its lesser known sequels.
She’s also appeared in such projects as Friday the 13th: The Series (1989), Avonlea (1995) and RoboCop: Prime Detectives (2001). In 2003, Moore began providing voices for animated series such as Rolie Polie Olie and Little Einsteins, and in 2011 she portrayed Mrs. Shaw in The Kennedys miniseries, as well as Mrs. Claus in the Hallmark TV movie Mistletoe Over Manhattan.
R.D. Robb as Schwartz
As triple-dog-daring Schwartz, R.D. Robb is credited with introducing us all to that pop culture phrase. (Sorry, Flick!) Among the actor’s most notable roles post- being in the Christmas Story cast are 1995’s The Brady Bunch Movie and 1996’s Matilda, plusTV work on Touched by an Angel in 2001 and The Goldbergs in 2017, the latter of which made a nod to his role in the 1983 holiday classic.
Though he wrote and directed the 2001 indie film Don’s Plumb, which was filmed in 1995 and starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire, legal issues prevented it from ever being released in the U.S. Robb, now 51, was one of the many actors who reunited for 2022’s A Christmas Story Christmas.
Jean Shepherd as Narrator
Jean Shepherd’s voice will forever be remembered as the narrator of the 1983 classic, which was based on the humorist and TV and radio personality’s autobiographical stories. Shepherd co-wrote the script as well, plus he makes a brief cameo as a man in line waiting to see Santa.
Prior to the film, he enjoyed successful broadcasting and magazine writing careers, penning works for such titles as Playboy, and contributing to PBS’s American Playhouse series. In 1994, he also co-wrote A Christmas Story’s 1994’s sequel, My Summer Story.
Though Shepherd died in 1999 at the age of 78, he was posthumously inducted into the national Radio Hall of Fame in 2005 and is still credited as a co-writer on 2022’s A Christmas Story Christmas.
Reconnect with even more 1980s movie stars below!