'A Christmas Story' Director Robert Clark And His Son Die In Los Angeles Car Crash

Wednesday, April 4th 2007, 6:09 pm
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Film director Robert Clark, best known for the beloved holiday classic ``A Christmas Story,'' was killed with his son Wednesday in a car wreck, the filmmaker's assistant and police said.

Clark, 67, and son Ariel Hanrath-Clark, 22, were killed in the accident in Pacific Palisades, said Lyne Leavy, Clark's personal assistant.

The two men were in an Infiniti that collided head-on with a GMC Yukon around 2:30 a.m. PST, said Lt. Paul Vernon, a police spokesman. The driver of the other car was under the influence of alcohol and was driving without a license, Vernon said.

The driver, Hector Velazquez-Nava, 24, of Los Angeles, remained hospitalized and will be booked for investigation of gross vehicular manslaughter after being treated, Vernon said. A female passenger in his car also was taken to the hospital with minor injuries and released, police said.

In Clark's most famous film, all 9-year-old Ralphie Parker wants for Christmas is an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle.

His mother, teacher and Santa Claus all warn: ``You'll shoot your eye out, kid.''

A school bully named Scut Farkus, a leg lamp, a freezing flagpole mishap and some four-letter defiance helped the movie become a seasonal fixture with ``It's A Wonderful Life'' and ``Miracle on 34th Street.''

Clark specialized in horror movies and thrillers early in his career, directing such 1970s flicks as ``Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things,'' ``Murder by Decree,'' ``Breaking Point'' and ``Black Christmas,'' which was remade last year.

His breakout success came with 1981's sex farce ``Porky's,'' a coming-of-age romp that he followed two years later with ``Porky's II: The Next Day.''

In 1983, ``A Christmas Story'' marked a career high for Clark. Darrin McGavin, Melinda Dillon and Peter Billingsley starred in the adaptation of Jean Shepard's childhood memoir of a boy in the 1940s.

The film was a modest theatrical success, but critics loved it.

In 1994, Clark directed a forgettable sequel, ``It Runs in the Family,'' featuring Charles Grodin, Mary Steenburgen and Kieran Culkin in a continuation of Shepard's memoirs.

In recent years, Clark made family comedies that were savaged by critics, including ``Karate Dog,'' ``Baby Geniuses'' and its sequel, ``Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2.''

Among Clark's other movies were Sylvester Stallone and Dolly Parton's ``Rhinestone,'' Timothy Hutton's ``Turk 182!'', and Gene Hackman and Dan Aykroyd's ``Loose Cannons.''