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The Oklahoma Version Of Story Of The Leg Lamp

December 1, 2022

From 2020:

The REAL story of A Christmas Story's leg lamp: How Oklahoma arts professor designed first version of iconic prop before it was spotted by film crews - and is now honored in his home town by giant 40 foot inflatable

The man who created the first version of the iconic leg lamp from film A Christmas Story is being honored in his Oklahoma home town - with a giant 40-foot tall inflatable version of the prop.

The film, set in the 1940s, sees adult character Ralphie Parker reminiscing on a Christmas where he was nine years old. It 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!"

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 the town of Chickasha is going to keep their giant lamp shining bright all Christmas long, in tribute to the local arts professor who built the very first version of the lamp.

Visual Arts Professor 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.

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.

The Art School required teachers to also produce their own art. Early in his career, Noland used an old mannequin that had been lying around the Art School to make a project: from the bottom half he made a leg lamp and from the torso he made a waste basket. They were on view in his fourth-floor office until he retired. A man seeking employment at the school became tantalized with the lamp and came by Noland's office many times to look at it and ask about how it was put together-he nearly took it apart to see how it was made. A few years later, this same man was on the production team that produced the leg lamp from a hosiery leg for a 1983 movie. Noland always felt his lamp was the prototype for the one in A Christmas Story.

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

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.

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.

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 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 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

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

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.

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