The REAL story of A Christmas Story’s leg lamp which became famous when a crew member found it

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A 40-foot tall inflatable leg lamp has been erected in the small Oklahoma city of Chickasha as a tribute to the man who built the very first one, which is thought to be behind the inspiration behind amusing iconic prop used in the classic seasonal film A Christmas Story.

The film, set in the 1940s and narrated by an adult Ralphie Parker, sees him reminiscing on a Christmas where he was nine years old. 

It also features a lamp in the shape of a leg delivered to a family in a large box reading ‘fragile’, to which the father famously says ‘fra-gee-leh, must be Italian!’ The father had won the lamp as an award.

A 40-foot tall inflatable leg has been erected in the small Oklahoma city of Chickasha as a tribute to a local man who built the very first one which inspired the famous film prop

A 40-foot tall inflatable leg has been erected in the small Oklahoma city of Chickasha as a tribute to a local man who built the very first one which inspired the famous film prop

Chickasha, Oklahoma created a 40ft inflatable version as part of the city's Festival of Lights in an attempt to draw visitors to the small town

Chickasha, Oklahoma created a 40ft inflatable version as part of the city’s Festival of Lights in an attempt to draw visitors to the small town

A leg lamp features prominently throughout the film and proves to be the bane of the young star, Ralphie's mother's existence who loathes the object with a passion

A leg lamp features prominently throughout the film and proves to be the bane of the young star, Ralphie’s mother’s existence who loathes the object with a passion

Ralphie Parker

The holiday classic follows youngster Ralphie Parker, who spends most of his time dodging a bully ahead of Christmas

The holiday classic follows youngster Ralphie Parker, who spends most of his time dodging a bully ahead of Christmas

While the father loves his new lamp, his wife isn’t so sure and frequently tries to turn it off when he isn’t looking. 

But Chickasha is going to keep their lamp shining bright all Christmas long as they pay tribute to the man who not only lived in the town but who also who built the very first one.

Oklahoma University School of Visual Arts professor, Noland James who died earlier this year, would keep the lamp in his university office where he taught for 30 years and would frequently tell people how he invented the leg lamp. 

When James passed away in July, his obituary confirmed his standing as the inventor of the famous Christmas film icon.  

Visual Arts Prof Noland James from Oklahoma University created a leg lamp, thought to be the inspiration for the leg lamp which features in the movie A Christmas Story

Visual Arts Prof Noland James from Oklahoma University created a leg lamp, thought to be the inspiration for the leg lamp which features in the movie A Christmas Story

The leg lamp stood in Professor Noland James' office for much of his career and caught the imagination of a production designer who ultimately went to work as part of the film crew

The leg lamp stood in Professor Noland James’ office for much of his career and caught the imagination of a production designer who ultimately went to work as part of the film crew

The father, left, in A Christmas Story, quickly becomes obsessed with a prize leg lamp he won

The father, left, in A Christmas Story, quickly becomes obsessed with a prize leg lamp he won

For the past 23 years, a 24-hour marathon showing of A Christmas Story has aired on either TNT or TBS on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day each year. The leg features in this poster

For the past 23 years, a 24-hour marathon showing of A Christmas Story has aired on either TNT or TBS on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day each year. The leg features in this poster

Holiday hopes: The film featured 9-year-old Ralphie, who dreamed of getting an air rifle as a Christmas gift, despite warnings that he might shoot his eye out

Holiday hopes: The film featured 9-year-old Ralphie, who dreamed of getting an air rifle as a Christmas gift, despite warnings that he might shoot his eye out

Early in his career, James used an old mannequin that had been lying around the Art School to create the project.

From the from the bottom half of the model he made a leg lamp and from the torso, a waste basket. 

They were on view in his fourth-floor office until he retired in 2001. 

By coincidence, a man who was looking for work at the school became fascinated by the lamp and stopped by James’ officer several times to look at it and inquire as to how it was made.

A few years later, the same man found a job on the production team for A Christmas Story.

Economic Development Council Treasurer Tim Elliott, pictured, joked that the city should create an inflatable leg to lure visitors to the town, but the board took him seriously

Economic Development Council Treasurer Tim Elliott, pictured, joked that the city should create an inflatable leg to lure visitors to the town, but the board took him seriously

The giant leg lamp can be seen perched atop the wooden box it was delivered in (as per the movie), paying tribute to a local resident professor who is thought to have created the first one

The giant leg lamp can be seen perched atop the wooden box it was delivered in (as per the movie), paying tribute to a local resident professor who is thought to have created the first one

For this Christmas the city has created a 40-foot inflatable version but the Economic Development Council says it plans to build a larger, permanent structure

For this Christmas the city has created a 40-foot inflatable version but the Economic Development Council says it plans to build a larger, permanent structure

The inflatable leg is not able to be erected during periods of strong winds

The inflatable leg is not able to be erected during periods of strong winds

In the 1983 movie, the crew created a lamp from a hosiery leg, but James always believed that it was his lamp that was in effect the prototype for the one which featured a starring role. 

When those on Chickasha’s Council thought about various ways they might be able to draw visitors to the small city of 16,000 as part of the city’s Festival of Lights, honoring James with his unusual light seemed like a natural fit.    

‘I continued to think about what we could do to get people to come to Chickasha,’ Economic Development Council Treasurer Tim Elliott told WFXR. ‘And make us a destination spot.

‘I set my two-foot leg lamp up on the table, and said, “How about a 150-foot leg lamp at the end of Main Street?” They all kind of laughed and thought it was funny, but it was an idea.’ 

For this Christmas the city has created a 40-foot inflatable version but the Economic Development Council says it plans to build an even larger, permanent structure. 

Even the box from the film upon which 'Fragile' was written has been reproduced

Even the box from the film upon which ‘Fragile’ was written has been reproduced

Workers can be seen putting the final finishing touches to the masterpiece

Workers can be seen putting the final finishing touches to the masterpiece 

The giant leg can be seen all the way down main street in the town

The giant leg can be seen all the way down main street in the town 

The film itself follows young Ralphie Parker on his quest to receive a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle for Christmas.

Multiple Christmas-themed events occur whilst Ralphie embarks on his quest one of which happens when Ralphie’s father wins a ‘major award’ in a contest. 

The award turns out to be the leg lamp, which Mr Parker proudly puts on display and quickly becomes the bane of his wife’s existence. 

For the past 23 years, a 24-hour marathon showing of A Christmas Story has aired on either TNT or TBS on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day each year. 

When the leg finally arrives at Ralphie Parker's house, his family are bemused by its arrival

When the leg finally arrives at Ralphie Parker’s house, his family are bemused by its arrival

Ralphie's mom, Mrs Parker, flashes a smile while standing next to the illuminated leg

Ralphie’s mom, Mrs Parker, flashes a smile while standing next to the illuminated leg

The wooden crate in which the leg lamp was shipped has also been built on a gigantic scale

The wooden crate in which the leg lamp was shipped has also been built on a gigantic scale 

Movie classic: 1983 film A Christmas Story celebrates its 37th anniversary this year. It starred Melinda Dillon, far left, Darren McGavin, Ian Petrella and Peter Billingsley, far right

Movie classic: 1983 film A Christmas Story celebrates its 37th anniversary this year. It starred Melinda Dillon, far left, Darren McGavin, Ian Petrella and Peter Billingsley, far right

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