Bob Clark, director of holiday perennial “A Christmas Story,” died early Wednesday in a car crash that also claimed the life of his 22-year-old son, Ariel. He was 67 and actively developing several projects.
Assistant director Ken Goch said Clark had just gotten the go-ahead for “There Goes the Neighborhood,” a comedy about feuding neighbors, the day before his death. He also was working on a remake of “Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things,” his 1972 horror pic, and “Elves,” assistant Lyne Leavy said.
The Pacific Palisades resident was driving his son, a musician and actor, along Pacific Coast Highway early Wednesday morning when their car was struck by another vehicle. The driver of that vehicle was hospitalized and booked for driving under the influence. He could face vehicular manslaughter charges.
Clark was American but made his name as a helmer of low-budget horror pics in Canada before turning out boffo teensploitation hit “Porky’s” in 1982. He followed that with “A Christmas Story,” based on Jean Shepherd’s memoir, a year later. The pic wasn’t a big hit initially — earning only $19.3 million at the domestic box office — but grew in popularity and is now shown in cable marathons over the holidays.
The movie, about a young boy’s quest for a Red Ryder air rifle, starred Peter Billingsley as Ralphie and Darren McGavin as his gruff dad. “Porky’s” was a far greater success, but “A Christmas Story” remained Clark’s favorite over the years.
“I would definitely say ‘A Christmas Story’ was the highlight of his life,” Goch said.
The longtime collaborator dug graves on Clark’s first movie and later became assistant director. He met the director through his older brother, a classmate of Clark’s at the U. of Miami, and credits the helmer’s youthful approach to moviemaking for his success.
“He an eccentric son of a gun, but I loved him,” Goch said.
“Porky’s” spawned several sequels and is the top-grossing Canuck pic ever with $250 million global B.O. Howard Stern has been developing a remake of it.
Clark most recently helmed “SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2,” a sequel to “Baby Geniuses,” in 2004. He exec produced the Weinstein Co. remake of “Black Christmas” released last year.
Goch said he showed no interest in retiring. “He wasn’t really interested in anything else, really,” Goch said. “He wanted to make movies.”
The director was survived by another son, 28-year-old Michael.