A Christmas Story Star Peter Billingsley Says ‘Prop Man’ Gave Him Real Chewing Tobacco

Peter Billingsley, who starred in A Christmas Story at age 12, is sharing some behind-the-scenes memories from the set of the beloved holiday movie.

Billingsley, 49, joined the That Scene With Dan Patrick podcast to discuss the movie, and shared that in one of the movie’s recognizable scenes, he was given real chewing tobacco.

For the scene in question, Billingsley, who played Ralphie, daydreams about saving his family with a BB gun and is dressed up as a sheriff.

“Well, they totally screwed up, Dan,” Billingsley said. “The scene says he’s dressed as a sheriff. So you put the costume on. And a line in the script says he’s chewing tobacco. So, sure enough, the prop man, who’s responsible for that — anything the actor touches is the prop man’s department — he comes up to me and he’s got this pouch and it says Red Man on it, and he flips it open — I swear to God, I don’t know the difference — I said, ‘What do I do with this?’ He says, ‘Here, jam it down in here.’ He says, ‘Don’t swallow, just spit.’ “


“So, I do it, we get ready to go, and about 15 minutes in, the world starts tilting,” he tells Patrick. “I start sweating. My stomach starts hurting, and I start throwing up.”

According to Billingsley, director Bob Clark then said, ” ‘Cut cut. What the hell is going on?’ “

Billingsley added, “And the prop man says, ‘Oh, I gave him Red Man, you know.’ Bob says, ‘What are you doing? He’s 12 years old!’

Billingsley continued, “So we shut down, I go and lay on the couch in the living room of the set for about 40 minutes until I can get this s— out of my system.”

“Then they did what they should have done,” the actor explained, saying that “someone had the good idea, they took a bunch of raisins, squished them together and then stuck that in my mouth, and I had brown spit.”

“Can you imagine?” he said. “It was a very different time then. He just gave me straight-up, whole-cut leaf Red Man.”

The actor was allowed to keep the BB gun from that scene, and says now that he’s impressed by the movie’s popularity.

“To have something that stuck then, and then every decade continues to, there’s obviously a deeper core that it’s hitting,” he added in the podcast.

MGM did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment. When reached for comment about Billingsley’s account, prop master J. Tracy Budd told PEOPLE, “Management (Bob Clarke) insisted after telling him that he would be very sick….. which he was,” before adding that he was “retired now and remember the filming fondly.”

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