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'A Christmas Story' of Jean Shepherd, the man behind a holiday classic

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Jean Shepherd
Jean Shepherd

Odds are good you'll watch (or at least encounter) a showing of A Christmas Story at some point today — but the radio personality behind the harrowing tale of Ralphie Parker is a little more obscure. The Atlantic talks about the life and death of Jean Shepherd, whose down-to-earth tales on radio inspired a host of comedians and storytellers who came after him including Garrison Keillor, Jerry Seinfeld, and Harry Shearer. Shepherd — whose stories were adapted into the iconic movie — never actually got to enjoy the full extent of its success: the film was something of a flop at its 1983 big-screen release, and he died in 1999 just as Red Ryder mania was getting into full swing.

Read Shepherd's story on The Atlantic — and please, don't shoot your eye out as you open gifts this morning.