One of the most memorable parts of the 1983 film A Christmas Story is the Leg Lamp. The Leg Lamp, or as the old man calls it the “Major Award”, was a large tacky lamp that the father in the film won. Since its initial release, A Christmas Story has grown a cult following and is frequently found in heavy TV rotation during the holidays. And with the film’s popularity, the legend of the Christmas Story Leg Lamp has been passed on through the generations.
Here are some fun trivia items that you probably didn’t know about the Leg Lamp.
1A Christmas Story Was Based on a Series of Short Stories
Before it was a movie, A Christmas Story was a series of short stories by writer and radio personality Jean Shepherd. The stories were a fictional account of his childhood in the 1940s. The short story about the Leg Lamp is titled “My Old Man and the Lascivious Special Award that Heralded the Birth of Pop Art” and was originally published in 1966. The story that inspired A Christmas Story, “Red Ryder Nails the Hammond Kid”, was published in the December 1965 issue of Playboy Magazine.
NERD NOTE: Jean Shepherd had his own radio show at WOR-AM in New York City for 22 years (1955-1977).
2The Lamp was Inspired by a Soda Advertisement
Jean Shepherd first got the idea for the leg lamp after seeing a Nehi Soda advertisement featuring a pair of legs. Nehi’s signature image in their ads during the 30s and 40s was a pair of female legs.
Shepherd gave cloaked credit to Nehi by writing that the Old Man’s crossword contest was sponsored by an “orange pop” beverage company whose name “was a play on words, involving the lady’s knee.”
3A Plus-Sized Model Posed For The Leg Lamp
The Leg Lamp is big. Martin Malivoire, who helped fabricate the lamp for the movie, used a plus-sized woman’s leg to cast the mold.
4Only One Leg Lamp Survived The Filming
Movie props can be big business. Iconic props like the Wilson volleyball from Cast Away, the Maltese Falcon and the Batmobile have fetched small fortunes at auction. But sadly no one will ever own an original Leg Lamp.
Production designer Reuben Freed designed three leg lamps for the film using a mold fabricated by Martin Malivoire. Two Leg Lamps were broken during filming. One survived and sat in the window of Martin Malivoire’s special effects shop in Toronto for several years. Unfortunately, he threw it away right before everyone started going crazy for Leg Lamps.
5The Christmas Story Lamp Shade Is Shaped Like A Bell
After Martin Malivoire created the glass leg, production designer Reuben Freed created the style and design of the Christmas Story movie leg lamp. The lampshade is a classic bell shape based on a lamp from Freed’s mother’s living room.
6The Leg Lamp is a Christmas Icon in Cleveland
Although Jean Shepard is a native of Indiana, A Christmas Story was primarily filmed in Cleveland, Ohio. In the years following the film’s release, the city has embraced being connected with the film.
To help celebrate the 30th anniversary of A Christmas Story in 2013, Terminal Tower in Cleveland’s Public Square was transformed into a giant leg lamp. Keen fans of the film might recognize Terminal Tower as Higbee‘s department store, where Ralphie and his brother have their frightening encounter with Santa.
7Leg Lamp Replicas Are Very Popular Holiday Decorations
It took several decades, but now you too can own the coveted Leg Lamp. And you don’t even have to win a contest like the Old Man to get one.
This half-scale 26″ reproduction of the Leg Lamp from the 1983 movie A Christmas Story isn’t completely accurate, but it’s probably close enough for most fans of A Christmas Story. And honestly, it’s smaller scale will be more apt to blend in with the average living room.
And if you want a full-size Leg Lamp 40″ tall, then you’re in luck. They make those too.
8Enough Leg Lamps Were Sold on Amazon To Top Mt. Everest
According to an Amazon.com press release on 2012 holiday sales, the Leg Lamp was such a popular item that if they stacked them all on top of each other they would be higher than Mount Everest (29,029 ft).
“If you stacked every Christmas Story Leg Lamp purchased by Amazon customers this holiday season, the height would reach the top of Mt. Everest.”
9Leg Lamp Director Cameo
Bob Clark, the director of A Christmas Story, did a cameo with the Leg Lamp. Clark played the role of Swede, the dim-witted neighbor, who marvels at the Leg Lamp from outside the house.
10The Leg Lamp Has Inspired Smaller Replica Lamps
11Mini Leg Lamp: Leg Lamp Replica Necklace
The smallest official version of the leg lamp available for purchase is a light-up necklace. This mini leg lamp necklace is sure to collect tons of compliments at your next holiday party.
12Leg Lamp Cookies
Yes, you can also eat the Christmas Story leg lamp. This cookie cutter creates holiday cookies in the shape of the iconic leg lamp. Make your holiday treats into Major Awards lamp cookies that everyone can enjoy.