Cleveland author offers a new perspective on 'A Christmas Story' filming in Cleveland

Posted at 7:45 AM, Dec 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-13 11:08:36-05

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A big anniversary is quickly approaching for ‘A Christmas Story.’

Next month, will mark 40-years since Ralphie, the Old Man, and the leg lamp pulled into town to start production of the holiday favorite with a strong Cleveland connection.

News 5 caught up with a Northeast Ohio woman who had a front-row seat during filming, and the story she's sharing is keeping her brother's love of the film alive.

2022 brought us the sequel to ‘A Christmas Story,’ ‘The Christmas Story Christmas,’ and now the release of a new book with a behind-the-scenes look.

"We took pictures, we watched the action," said Sue Stewart.

Stewart recalls watching the popular Black Bart scene behind the now-famous house on West 11th Street.

"With the cables and the rigs and they had to keep them out of the line of sight of the camera, said Stewart. "We're standing in the Bumpus' backyard and we're like awestruck."

Alongside Stewart during production in the Tremont neighborhood where she grew up was her brother Jim, who was a chaperone for Peter Billingsley and Ian Petrella.

"We have a picture of him making them hot chocolate and stuff, but no one knows why Jim was a chaperone. Had to do with a little white cat. Have you ever heard the story of the little white cat,” asked Stewart.

If you haven’t, Sue said you can find those details in her book just released called ‘My Christmas Story Story.’


"It's a culmination of all the photos and stories that I shared with my brother Jim. They've been sitting around 40-years, and I really felt like they should be shared because they are good,” said Stewart.

One of the many pictures in the book shows the Old Man, played by Darren McGavin using the pay phone inside the Rowley Inn, across the street from the Christmas Story House.

"He'd say hey, honey I'm done filming for the day, I'm going to have a cold one with my buddy, Jim," said Stewart.

Every time McGavin stepped in the phone booth, Sue said the door stayed open.

"He let everybody hear it, it didn't matter to him, he just had a good time, and he was one of us,” said Stewart.

In addition to chaperoning the pair of child actors, Sue's brother helped the production crew with the camera and lights and made a brief cameo in the scene where the infamous leg lamp is delivered.

"Have you ever heard of an urn in the shape of the crate? It's in there [the book]. It was a real thing, only one of a kind," said Stewart.

That urn was for Jim, one of ‘A Christmas Story's’ biggest fans who passed away six years ago.

"Toward the end of his life, he knew he couldn't get this book done. I promised him that I would," said Stewart.

Along with preserving Jim's legacy, ‘My Christmas Story Story’ offers a new peek into the production of a Christmas classic.

"It's a good little book and it tells you things you never heard of," said Stewart.