For many people, it’s not really Christmas without A Christmas Story. The classic holiday movie was made in 1983 and is still rated one of the most popular Christmas movies ever. But its star, Peter Billingsley, who played adorable Ralphie, managed to go from kid star to adult success without falling victim to the child star curse.

Peter, who is now 42, has a successful career as a Hollywood movie producer. He was the executive producer of the first Iron Man movie and partnered with longtime pal Jon Favreau on his sci fi movie Zathura.

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“It is important to me that I was not raised in Los Angeles,” Peter told the website about his childhood in Phoenix, Ariz. “I had brothers and sisters and did chores and had to pick up the dog crap in the yard and mow the lawn and do all the normal things that kids have to do.” Peter and his parents flew to LA a couple of times a year for auditions or to film.

When A Christmas Story opened, it was a flop. That prevented Peter from becoming a huge star. Although the movie later became the cult classic it is today, its popularity grew more slowly over time, giving Peter a chance to be a regular kid. “It was just a very odd, gradual fame,” he explains, adding that by the time the movie became a holiday tradition he was already in his 20s and not recognizable to fans of the movie.

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Peter eventually realized that while he loved movies, he didn’t want to act anymore. He became close friends with Vince Vaughn and eventually produced some of his movies, including – appropriately – Four Christmases.

And what’s that tucked in a corner of Peter’s Hollywood office? A leg lamp, of course!

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