Some sad news this morning: Bob Clark, director of the beloved holiday classic A Christmas Story, died yesterday in Los Angeles. He was 65. Clark, along with his 22-year-old son Ariel, was killed in a car crash caused by an apparent drunk driver.
Clark’s career began in the horror genre, directing such films as 1972’s Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things (AKA Revenge of the Living Dead) and 1974’s Black Christmas. In 1975, he produced the movie Moonrunners, which inspired The Dukes of Hazzard television series.
He wrote and directed the 1982 comedy Porky’s, based upon his high school experiences growing up in the 1950s.
It was the 1940s childhood experiences of author Jean Shepherd that inspired Clark’s most enduring legacy, 1983’s A Christmas Story. Clark co-wrote the screenplay with Shepherd, based upon portions of Shepherd’s novel In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash.
The film starred Peter Billingsley as Ralphie, who was intent on getting a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas while his mother and other adults warned that he would shoot his eye out. Released in November 1983, the movie was not an instant hit and was actually gone from most theaters by the time Christmas rolled around a few weeks later.
Airings on the Ted Turner cable channels TNT and TBS brought more attention to the movie, including 24-hour marathons each Christmas. It is now often cited as one of the most popular Christmas movies.
Clark had a number of projects in development at the time of his death, including a remake of Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things. A remake of Porky’s, to be produced by Howard Stern, was also in the works.
Ariel Clark was studying music composition at Santa Monica College, with aspirations of composing music for movies and video games.
Bob and Ariel Clark are survived by Michael, the adult son of Bob and brother to Ariel.
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I vividly remember the first time I watched A Christmas Story. It was 1991 and TNT aired it as sort of a “Christmas in July.” I was on summer break from high school, so it was about half my lifetime ago.
My mom and I were flipping through the channels that day and just stumbled across it. We decided to try it out for a few minutes. Needless to say, we never changed the channel.
While watching this movie, I also tried Rocky Road ice cream for the first time. To this day, whenever I eat Rocky Road, I think of watching A Christmas Story with my mom; and whenever I watch A Christmas Story, I think of eating Rocky Road ice cream.
As someone who loves nostalgia, even from previous generations, I instantly fell in love with A Christmas Story. It was a fantastic movie that has now become a standard part of the Christmas season for our family. My brother, who informed me of the Bob Clark news last night, even gave me a 1/2 scale replica of the “Major Award” a Christmas or two ago, complete with a custom-made shipping crate to match the one in the movie.
Over the years, Clark has made millions of people laugh. His was a life that brought much happiness to others. Though he is gone, his work will still bring happiness to millions more. He will be missed.
Our condolences go out to their family and friends.
Primary Information Sources
LA Times: ‘A Christmas Story’ director dies in crash
Internet Movie Database