Archive for July 15th, 2015

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By Patricia Perry

Without Jean Shepherd, there would be no Christmas Story—and the movie resonates so strongly because he had a unique talent for making his audience feel like his stories were their own.” –  Chris Heller writing In The Atlantic, 12/24/2013.

With that observation, Heller sums up the lasting appeal of A Christmas Story in a neat little nutshell.  Sheppard was the screenwriter and, just as memorably, the voice-over narrator of this 1983 holiday favorite which was loosely based on his own Depression-era Indiana childhood. But his radio shows, stories, and their PBS American Playhouse adaptations had already earned him a devoted cult following in the years before A Christmas Story found its widespread audience.

Certainly, the Perry family always felt as if Shepherd and his stories belonged especially to us.

My brother and I spent our childhood absorbing my father’s enthusiasms for a select group of cultural icons  in whose work we were so thoroughly immersed that they felt almost like members of our family.   It was a distinguished fraternity, including the likes of Peter Sellers, John Cleese, Stan Kenton, Louis Armstrong, and – in a very special place of honor – Jean Shepherd. Dad’s affinity for his stories was largely rooted in their common life experience; he and Shepherd were born just a few years and few miles apart in the northwest corner of the Hoosier state and, in way or another, had covered a lot of the very same ground.  But it was also rooted in Dad’s unfailing instinct for finding and appreciating good comedy. Sheppard’s style and voice – folksy, funny, given to wild exaggeration and barely suppressing a giddy enjoyment of his own storytelling talents – was infectious comedy gold. (more…)

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