"A Christmas Story" (1983) seemed to come out of nowhere to become an instant holiday classic. Its story of the nerdy kid with the (gently) overbearing dad and doting mother set in postwar middle America rang a bell with an entire generation of baby boomers. Its starred Darren McGavin, Melinda Dillon (of Close Encounters of the Third Kind) and a nerdy blonde kid named Peter Billingsly as "Ralphie". He was perfect for the role showing remarkable range while retaining a sense of childish wonder at the events going on around him. Though he had been acting in commercials for years he was basically an unknown. After A Christmas Story went on to gather such a huge following it only seemed natural that Ralphie would be someone with a bright future in Hollywood. Instead though he seemed to kind of fade away. While he still showed up in the occasional TV show episode he never really had that big adult hit that would have cemented his place in Hollywood. Or so it seemed.

So what became of Ralphie?

Well when his acting career didn't take off Billingsley moved behind the camera (once he grew up of course). He's become a successful TV producer receiving an Emmy nomination for the 2001 IFC channel film "Dinner for Five" and he even served as a executive producer of "Iron Man" which was directed by his friend Jon Favreau. Most recently he directed the hit comedy movie "Couples Retreat".

Peter Billingsley as "Ralphie" (left) in "A Christmas Story" and in a recent photo