It’s just an unassuming two-story yellow house with green trim that sits in the back of a neighborhood in Cleveland — unless you’ve seen the 1983 film "A Christmas Story." For the many who have, the house is an iconic piece of movie history.
"A Christmas Story" focuses on 9-year-old Ralphie’s desperate plea to get a Daisy Red Ryder 200-shot Carbine Action BB Gun for Christmas. But everyone he tells this to — his parents, teachers and even a foot-in-the-face Santa and his elves — responds, "You’ll shoot your eye out."
30 ways ‘A Christmas Story’ became our Christmas story
The latter-day success of “A Christmas Story” is tied to its nostalgia for mid-20th-century Americana. To commemorate the film’s 30th anniversary, we scoured today’s nostalgia tool-of-choice, Instagram, to highlight how fans continue to interact with the classic each holiday season. Click here for the story.
‘A Christmas Story’ on TV
It’s the annual 24-hour, 12-airing marathon of the utterly charming, 1983 movie.
Watch » 6 p.m. Tuesday-6 p.m. Wednesday, TBS
The movie starred Peter Billingsley as Ralphie Parker, Darren McGavin as his dad (known as "The Old Man"), Melinda Dillon as his mother and Ian Petrella as his pig-of-an-eater brother, Randy.
Hardly a success at the box office, the nostalgic comedy eventually caught hold of America’s fancy and has been a Christmastime television staple ever since. Scenes from the movie have become classics in many a household, including triple-dog dares, helping The Old Man change a tire and a Christmas dinner of a smiling goose.
The Parker House » For fans of the movie, not to mention the Bumpus hounds, the house is a magnet.
Dubbed the A Christmas Story House, it has been fully restored on the outside to look just as it did when the crews filmed the classic movie 30 years ago. Inside, it’s a bit of a different story. While many of the rooms look just like the rooms in the movie, the interiors were not shot in the house, but on a soundstage.
Only a little more than two weeks of the nine-week shooting schedule was spent in Cleveland. The rest was done on the soundstage in Toronto and also at the Victoria School in St. Catharines, Ontario.
Exteriors shots of the house and the surrounding area are enough to make the neighborhood on the city’s west side a bucket-list item to hordes of fans who have visited the house since it opened as a tourist attraction in 2006.
The attraction nearly didn’t happen, though; a tour guide in the house said that when Brian Jones swooped in and bought the house, it was less than 24 hours from destruction. She may have embellished the tale a bit to make it more exciting, but the story is one to note.
According to Jones’ official recounting of how he came to own the house, his wife saw it for sale on eBay, and he bought it.
Of course, there is a bit more to it than that.
Jones had wanted to join the Navy and become a pilot. Unfortunately, his eyesight wasn’t good enough and his aviation dream was scrubbed.
His parents, wanting to cheer him up, decided to make him a gift.
A couple of weeks later he received a large wooden crate marked "Fragile." Inside was the same "Major Award" that The Old Man from the film received. Jones now had his very own handmade leg lamp, complete with fishnet stocking and a black-fringed lampshade.
The film was a family favorite and Jones’ parents had such a good recollection of the lamp that they re-created one. While it was a difficult and time-consuming task, it also was one the Joneses thoroughly enjoyed. After sending it to their son, they told him of the significant interest the lamp received and that many people requested one for themselves.
And therein was Jones’ "Eureka!" moment. Thinking there was money to be made, and needing a new job after leaving the Navy, he decided to go into the business of making leg lamps for anyone who wanted one. At the very least, it sure beat moving from San Diego to the East Coast for a corporate job.
On April 9, 2003, RedRiderLegLamps.com — a largely online venture that sells replica leg lamps — was launched.
Then, in 2005, came the email from his wife alerting him to the house from the movie being for sale on eBay and suggesting he buy it. Apparently she sent the email as a joke, but for Jones it was no laughing matter. Especially for someone running a leg-lamp business, buying the house was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Rather than take a chance at auction, Jones offered the owner $150,000 for the house if the auction were canceled immediately. Within 24 hours, he was in Cleveland signing the papers to buy the house.
Open house » After buying the house, Jones had to spend tens of thousands of dollars and countless hours fixing it up to return it to the exact look it had on the screen. That required quite a bit of remodeling on the inside, since most of the interiors were shot elsewhere.
By Thanksgiving 2006, the house was ready to open to the public for tours and a bit of nostalgia. Eventually, Jones purchased two more pieces of property in the neighborhood; one became a museum dedicated to the movie while the other is a large gift shop, which opened this year. Both are across the street from the movie house.Next Page >
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