CHICKASHA, Okay. – Inspired by a local legend, a 50-meter recreation of the iconic “A Christmas Story” leg lamp – complete with a black high heel, fringed lampshade and a box marked “fragile” – has become a permanent statue.
The permanent sculpture is made entirely of fiberglass and is located in the new park in downtown Chickasha. It measures 40 feet tall, sits atop a 10-foot box, and has “the soft glow of electric sex” that Ralphie admires in the 1983 classic film, Joe Hutmacher told The Oklahoman, part of the USA TODAY Network.
How is Chickasha connected to the ‘A Christmas Story’ leg lamp?
When Chickasha-born Noland James died in 2020 at the age of 89, many people were surprised that his obituary added the line: “Noland always felt that his lamp was the prototype for the one in the movie ‘A Christmas Story’.”
Hutmacher’s voice trembled with emotion as he remembered the towering leg in his town and the man who inspired it.
“Noland was so gifted…and the man was very humble. Only to his close personal friends would he say that he built the original leg lamp. He didn’t promote himself that way, which is a strong indication of character and personality for me. He was also one of my best friends,” said Hutmacher.
James, who taught at Oklahoma University in the School of Visual Arts for 30 years, used a female mannequin for an unusual art display in his office until his retirement.
The bottom of this novelty was a lamp designed with the mannequin’s two slender legs, clad in black snakes and pumps, while the torso was a waste basket. The entire figure was dressed in a lace black and white outfit.
Just a few months after James died, the Chickasha Economic Development Council displayed a 40-foot inflatable version of the “A Christmas Story” leg lamp on a 10-foot box labeled “fragile.”
“To be connected to it in an unusual way, we’re happy that so many people love that movie — and that the leg lamp is so important to people,” said Jim Cowan, director of the Development Council.
“The whole story went viral,” Cowan added. “The amount of excitement it brought to Chickasha was just absolutely overwhelming.”
The inflatable statue was broken down several times by high winds, so the city decided to make a permanent statue for people who wanted to see it, Cowan said.
So why did James? Do you think his lamp inspired the movie?
As James’s obituary puts it, a man looking for a job at the university “was tempted by the lamp and often passed by Noland’s office to look at it and ask how it was put together – he almost made it.” apart to see how it was made.”
“A few years later, the same man was on the production team that produced the leg lamp of a stocking leg for a 1983 film,” the obituary states.
James’ display has two legs instead of one, “but you can see where there’s a similarity between the two,” Cowan said.
What the creators of ‘A Christmas Story’ said about the leg
The film is adapted from humorist Jean Shepherd’s 1966 collection of short stories “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash,” and in the story titled “My Old Man and the Lascivious Special Award That Heralded the Birth of Pop Art,” Ralphie’s father, played by Darren McGavin, receives a lamp in the shaped like a sexy stocking leg as a prize in a competition, excite Ralphie and embarrass his mother, played by Melinda Dillon.
According to the history of the leg lamps from A Christmas Story House & Museum, Shepherd came up with the leg lamp after seeing an illuminated Nehi Soda ad. The design for the “Old Man’s major award” in “A Christmas Story” is credited to production designer Reuben Freed, who produced three leg lamps for the film. As the plot of the film dictates, all three props were broken during filming.
James’ original leg lamp can be seen just a few blocks away from the statue at Grady County Historical Society Museum.