- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 5, 2007

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Film director Bob Clark, best known for the beloved holiday classic “A Christmas Story,” was killed with his son yesterday in a head-on crash with a vehicle that a drunken driver steered into the wrong lane, police and the filmmaker’s assistant said.

Mr. Clark, 67, and son Ariel Hanrath-Clark, 22, were killed in the accident in Pacific Palisades, said Lyne Leavy, Mr. Clark’s personal assistant.

The two men were in an Infiniti that collided head-on with a GMC Yukon about 2:30 a.m. local time, said Lt. Paul Vernon, a police spokesman. The driver of the other car was under the influence of alcohol and was driving without a license, Lt. Vernon said.

The driver, Hector Velazquez-Nava, 24, of Los Angeles, remained hospitalized and will be investigated on charges of gross vehicular manslaughter after being treated, Lt. Vernon said. A female passenger in his car also was taken to the hospital with minor injuries and released, police said.

In Mr. Clark’s most famous film, all 9-year-old Ralphie Parker, played by Peter Billingsley, wants for Christmas is an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle. His mother, his teacher and Santa Claus all warn: “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid.”

A school bully named Scut Farkus, a leg lamp, a freezing flagpole mishap and some four-letter defiance helped the movie become a seasonal fixture along with “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street.”

Scott Schwartz, who played Flick in “A Christmas Story” and kept in touch with Mr. Clark, called him one of the “nicest, sweetest guys that you’d ever want to come in contact with.”

“It’s a tragic day for all of us who knew and loved Bob Clark,” Mr. Schwartz said.

The director of the Christmas Story House in Cleveland, which was used for several exterior shots in the film, said Mr. Clark had been planning to visit in August.

“We were all very excited about meeting him,” said executive director Steve Siedlecki. “It’s very sad to think that that will never happen.”

Mr. Clark specialized in horror movies and thrillers early in his career, directing such 1970s flicks as “Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things,” and “Black Christmas,” which was remade last year. His breakout success came with 1981’s sex farce “Porky’s,” a coming-of-age romp that he followed two years later with “Porky’s II: The Next Day.”

In 1983, “A Christmas Story” was only a modest theatrical success, but critics loved it. It quickly became a cult classic and now a Christmas-season staple.


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