Original actors from A Christmas Story, the iconic 1983 American Christmas comedy, will be at Tiano's Cucina Italiana at OneDaytona Dec. 4-5.
The event will include the chance to mingle with Flick (Scott Schwartz), Scut Farkus (Zack Ward) and Grover Dill (Yano Anaya).
Included with a ticket is dinner, seeing the movie, a DJ and raffles, including, of course, a chance to win a Red Ryder BB gun just like one used in the movie. Best of all, the event will bring Christmas gifts to 26 less fortunate Volusia County children. The event is being coordinated by Bo Godawa (a local DJ/ Promoter/Event Coordinator) and Vittorio and Cathy Tiano.
The movie is ranked as one of the best Christmas films of all times and is included in the U.S. National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” The movie, directed by Bob Clark and written by Jean Shepherd, can be seen each holiday season on television.
Who can forget such memorable lines as “All right, who’s next,” “How would you like a snowball sandwich,” “Say uncle,” “I triple-dog-dare ya" or "You'll shoot your eye out."
The actors have all gone on to have successful careers, which, besides acting, include business ventures across a variety of spectrums.
Scott Schwartz, who lives in California, is working on a book and trying to launch a TV pilot while also doing appearances such as this. He described how he got the part of Flick.
“Bob Clark, the director, had seen another film I did called The Toy with Richard Pryor and Jackie Gleason,” Mr. Schwartz said. “I had just gotten back from shooting another film (Kidco). I went in to meet him, we talked for a few minutes and then he said ‘I’m hungry. You want to go out for a hotdog?' So, we go out, we have a hot dog, and he said I have to tell you it’s great to meet you, thanks for coming.”
He left without reading anything and found out 10 minutes later through his agent he had gotten the part.
“Bob wanted natural kids,” Mr. Schwartz said. “He didn’t want show biz wound up machines. He wanted just regular kids and I guess I fit that mold.”
He added getting the role “is that thing that takes you from being an actor in a job to (being) part of Americana. It will stand the test of time beyond me.”
As to his infamous scene where his tongue got frozen to the pole in the movie, the secret can now be revealed.
“It was a plastic pole and it had a suction tube,” he said. “They put a hole in the plastic and they put a tube up there with a little vacuum. It was just a suction tube.”
The scene looked like his tongue was stuck, but never really was.
As to the film’s ongoing popularity, he said, “It’s a relationship movie between the kid and his father. He wants respect. The payoff is the BB gun. The way it was made, it’s like a multi-generational film. It’s very well made.”
Yano Anaya, who lives in Atlanta, is running three businesses right now, including A Christmas Story Family Facebook Group where fans can have access to the cast. Part of that business model is hooking up with promoters (such as Bo Godawa) and getting the cast together to visit different towns.
He started taking acting lessons when he was four years old. After an initial “cattle call” of hundreds of kids and several auditions, he got the part.
As to playing a bully in the movie, he described how when it was filmed, gang violence and drugs were rampant where he lived in southern California and “going to school was an every day battle.” He stated he thinks his experience of living in LA during that time gave him a really good sense of how to play that role effectively. Other credits involve filming a movie video for the song “Hot for Teacher” with Van Halen.
As to the movie’s appeal, he said, “There are just so many real-life experiences you can relate to. (And) almost every scene is just hilarious, funny.”
He added, “Every event we go to we want everybody to sign up for the Facebook group so that we can stay connected year-round. When Bo brought up the fact that we are going to be doing something for some homeless kids for Christmas, how can anybody in their right mind say no to that? “
The movie’s other “bully,” Scut Farkus was portrayed by Zack Ward. Originally from Canada, Mr. Ward’s mother (Pam Hyatt) was an actress. He lives in California and has continued to act since “A Christmas Story.” His television and movie credits are numerous, including “Survive the Game,” released this year starring Chad Michael Murray and Bruce Willis. In the movie he said he plays “a fun sociopath.” He also has directed some feature films and delved into multiple aspects of the movie industry.
“I played a lot of bad guys in my career,” Mr. Ward said. “I’ve been doing this now for 42 years. I think I just have a very punch-able face. It’s fun to play the bad guy, especially when you know the bad guy is going to get his comeuppance. The more dislike-able you make him, the happier the audience becomes when he finally gets beat. I’ve never been a bully at heart myself.”
He added, “I think the reason the movie has such longevity, and I hope it continues, is because it constantly reinvigorates its own audience. It relates to you on every level. The whole thing is about (Ralphie/Peter Billingsley’s) journey to become no longer a coward, but become the man that he wants to be. And it’s not an easy journey. People see themselves in that film (through different characters). As they grow up the film keeps on connecting to them again.”
As to coming to Daytona Beach, he said, “I’m honored to be able to be part of something that can do good for others. I was a small piece of a beautiful machine and to be able to carry that blessing forward to help out other people in any way, shape or form is a fantastic opportunity.”
There is an effort to make “A Christmas Story Family Day” an annual holiday in Ohio and New York. Mr. Godawa is hoping it can be a holiday in Florida as well.
Tiano’s owners are thrilled to host the charitable event.
“I love the idea,” Cathy Tiano said. “Last year was so crazy in the restaurant business. I think people are ready to get out. I just want to do something fun; bring back the Christmas spirit. I’m really excited.”
Vittorio Tiano, who was born in Napoli, Italy, simply said, “I do it for love and to help people. When I see people smiling and happy, I am always excited.”
Dinner both days will be from 5 to 6:30 p.m. or 7:30 to 9 p.m.. For tickets, call Tiano’s at (386) 492-9240.
Sponsors include Catarina Vitulli (Sisley Paris Brand Ambassador), Andews Photography, Deneen Godawa (Coldwell Banker Realtor), The Rock of Daytona, OneDaytona, and the UPS Stores in New Smyrna Beach and Port Orange.
School guidance counselors will select the recipients of the gifts.
For the Christmas Story Facebook page, visit facebook.com/achristmasstoryfamily/. You also can follow Mr. Ward on Instagram on Twitter @TotalZackWard.