Scott Schwartz: From A CHRISTMAS STORY to Porn Movies
The Kid With His Tongue Stuck To a Pole
by Lee Sobel
Scott Schwartz acted in one of the greatest family movies of all time. He played Flick in A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983). You know -- the kid who got triple dog dared to stick his tongue to a flagpole and his tongue got frozen to it. He also starred in the movie THE TOY (1982) with two of the all-time heavyweight champs of comedy: Jackie Gleason and Richard Pryor. But how many child stars end up starring in porno movies? Say what you will, but that is one very interesting career. I like Scott -- he's frank and open and tells it like it is. He's lived in California for decades but he grew up in New Jersey and he has a direct way of speaking that made it easy to talk to him.
Scott Schwartz with Peter Billingsley in A Christmas Story
R.D. Robb with Scott Schwartz in A Christmas Story
Lee Sobel: Greasy Kidstuff is about the fun stuff we have grown up with that we still love. Other than becoming an actor, what are some funny stories you can recall from your childhood that have stayed with you all these years?
Scott Schwartz: Growing up, I had an uncle that lived in Detroit who was a singing window washer and a comic. I would call him every other day from the age of five and he would sing songs to me and tell me Henny Youngman jokes. As a kid I thought I was Evel Knievel. We had a long driveway at my house I grew up in and I used to ride my BMX bicycle and I had turned one of those old plastic sleds upside down and made a ramp out of it. I used do jumps off of it, crash my bike, and say "Oh my God, what did I just do? I gotta do this again!"
Lee Sobel: As a kid, you made three movies in quick succession, right?
Scott Schwartz: I made three movies in nine months. I did THE TOY early in '82 from February to the end of June. July/August/September I didn't do anything and then I did KIDCO which was October to the beginning of December and then I started A CHRISTMAS STORY at the end of January 1983.
Lee Sobel: Do you have any interesting memories of Jackie Gleason and Richard Pryor when you made THE TOY?
Scott Schwartz: Richard was in the hospital during shooting of the movie with exhaustion and we had a lot of downtime. Jackie Gleason was so bored that he asked me, "Have you ever shot pool?" And I was like 4'6" and could barely see over a pool table. So he took me into the room that had the pool table and we spent hours in there. He taught me how to shoot pool.
Lee Sobel: Gleason was a heavy drinker, no?
Scott Schwartz: Not on the set. Gleason had just had his liver cleaned or drained out right before we started shooting. They had to get insured. Gleason and Pryor were both smokers. Pryor would have a drink now and then. Gleason would go to his big Presidential suite at the Hilton Hotel so I don't know what he did.
Lee Sobel: Do you have any funny memories of making A CHRISTMAS STORY and how do you feel about being in such a holiday classic?
Scott Schwartz: The movie has become a part of Americana. How can I not love a movie that has become so beloved? Our director, Bob Clark, put together a great cast. Not a hard man to please. He had a vision in mind. He wanted a bunch of regular kids to get together and do this thing. My audition for it was the easiest audition ever. THE TOY had just come out in the theaters. Bob went to see it and a week later he called me in to audition. I went in and we chit-chatted. It was like 2:30pm or something. He looks at me and says, "Hey Scotty, I didn't have lunch. Do you want to come with me and get a hot dog?" We were in New York City. My father was there too. We came down, had a hotdog and a Yoo-hoo or
Below: Richard Pryor and Scott Schwartz in The Toy
whatever. Then we went back to his office, chit-chatted some more and then he just said "It was great to meet you - have a wonderful day," shook my hand and that was it. I asked him if he wanted me to read and he said, "No, no, there's no dialogue you can't handle. I saw THE TOY." I walked about seven or eight blocks to my agent's office and my agent said, "What did you do? You got the job." Bob was looking for particular things -- he wanted normalcy in the children. He didn't want Hollywood types. He wanted very natural kids. I only worked one day a week on it. I didn't have any scenes with Darren McGavin. I had one scene with Melinda Dillon when Ralphie beats up Scut Farkus the bully. It was all kids and we had fun. Bob Clark trusted me, even though I had only made one movie up to that point. When we did the scene where I stuck my tongue to the flagpole that's all it said in the script: Flick sticks his tongue to the flagpole. So I asked Bob what he wanted me to do and he said to just do whatever I wanted. So I made up the stuff that I did and after the first take he told me to do it again and give him more but then he said it was too much and he liked the way I originally did it. That was Bob. That was how we communicated.
Bob Clark wanted the two boys who played the bullies separate from us because he wanted us to be scared of them. All the kids were great. The two bullies, Scut Farkus and Grover Dill, otherwise known as Zack Ward and Yano Anaya, are like my brothers now. We're the best of friends. Yano lives in Atlanta so I don't get to see him that much but Zack lives about twenty minutes away from me. Zack and I have done a lot of appearances together. Peter hasn't done any shows yet.
Peter and I used to play tricks on Bob Clark the director. Back then they didn't know which room was calling for room service so we used to call up and pretend to be Bob and order steaks brought up to his room. He had no idea it was us. Finally after a week, Bob called a meeting on the set and said, "I don't know who is sending me steaks and I really don't care. I love steak, but please order me something else." The steaks would show up and even though he hadn't ordered them, he would eat them anyway.
Lee Sobel: I have to imagine you've been triple dog dared to stick your tongue to something by people over the years. Have you had any weird experiences with fans?
Scott Schwartz: I've heard all of it. I've done appearances and people have actually brought flag poles and they want to me to take pictures with it.
Lee Sobel: Ted Turner certainly had something to do with continuing to build the popularity of A CHRISTMAS STORY by having 24-hour marathons on Christmas of the movie, right?
Scott Schwartz: The story I heard from someone who worked for Ted Turner was that he was buying the MGM library and he needed a family movie to run around Christmas and his secretary asked him if he'd seen A CHRISTMAS STORY and he had never seen it. So she brought in her VHS copy of it to show it to him for the first time and he said, "Oh, what a lovely film." He asked his secretary, what should we do with it and she said, "Why don't we try a marathon." They had tried it with IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE and THE WIZARD OF OZ for two years. The first year the ratings did okay but the second year the rating dipped. But they made some money from it. They didn't spend that much to buy A CHRISTMAS STORY so they didn't have to do that well with it for it to be profitable for them. They showed it and it did okay but then the next year it did even better. So they kept doing it and it kept going. They said that something like 50-52 million homes tuned in at some point of that marathon.
Scott Schwartz with Jackie Gleason in The Toy
Lee Sobel: In the 80's you began to appear in x-rated movies. Can you talk about what that was like? Did you feel at the time that it would hurt your acting career?
Scott Schwartz: I started meeting people at The Comedy Store and they started inviting me to the set of x-rated movies and I ended up doing all types of jobs on them. I needed to put food on the table and at that point in my twenties I didn't even have an agent so there was nothing to worry about hurting my acting career because I didn't have one at that point. I started out doing non-sex roles in movies, like I played a bartender or whatever. The owner of Wicked Pictures and I played racquetball at a gym near my house. He asked me to do a movie, to star in an x-rated film. I went to all my family and friends and I said if it's going to change our relationship or if you're not going to talk to me anymore, I won't do it. Everyone was fine with it. My parents were okay with it. Even my grandfather was cool with it - he said,
Scott Schwartz in Kidco
Above: Two photos of Scott Schwartz with friend Corey Haim
"And they're going to pay you for this?" It came, it went, it's had it's time. I stopped doing it in 1996 so it's 24 years ago already. I did one movie to make some money and get a little attention. It was never my intention to make that my career.
Lee Sobel: Can you talk about your beef with Corey Feldman?
Scott Schwartz: Corey Feldman claims that I introduced him to porn star Ginger Lynn and I didn't even know her. He called me up one night in August of 1987. He was sixteen and wasn't driving yet. He wanted me to drive him to The Comedy Store to meet Ginger Lynn. I was 19, so I agreed to drive him there and we walk in and there is Ginger Lynn, Christy Canyon, Ron Jeremy and Sam Kinison. Corey was friends with Sam. Sam was the one who told him to come to The Comedy Store and he would introduce Corey to porn stars. I was just like the "Uber" driver, that's all. Then I left and that was the end of my involvement with that. In the past year or so he's started saying it was me that brought him to meet Ginger Lynn so she could take him home and "molest him." But I didn't know the woman so how could I have introduced them? So he changed the narrative.
He's upset with me because he has continuously used Corey Haim for the past decade to make money off him. [Note: Scott Schwartz made a TV movie in 1985 with Corey Haim called A TIME TO LIVE starring Liza Minelli.] Within 32 hours after Corey Haim died, Corey Feldman walked into the Haim apartment and wanted to shoot footage of the funeral for his TV show, THE TWO COREYS. Bernie Haim, Corey Haim's father, told me this 90 minutes after they threw Corey Feldman out. I was Corey Haim's friend. Corey
Feldman was not his friend by then. You saw them in public together but they were not friends. So it started there and then it was Corey Feldman's book (Coreyography, published 2014). Corey Haim's mother, Judy Haim, wanted nothing to do with Corey Feldman. She can't stand him. So Feldman buried her in the book. She said to him, "Could you please stop talking about my son? Talk about yourself all you want to, but let my son rest in peace." But he can't do it because he needs Haim to make money. Then he made the documentary (My Truth: The Rape of 2 Coreys, released 2020) and in the first half he just buries Corey Haim and his family. And it's just another product that he sells. My beef with him is, "Shut up already about Corey Haim. Let him rest in peace. Let his mother have some peace of mind. The woman has gone through two bouts of cancer." But Feldman will not shut up. I don't hate this guy. There are just so many lies and inconsistencies. He says he's clean and sober. If he's clean and sober I'll sell you the Verrazzano bridge. The day he stops talking about Haim is the day I'll stop talking about him.
Lee Sobel: Tell me a wild story from your life in Hollywood.
Scott Schwartz: There are two stories. Back in the day Sam Kinison and Andrew Dice Clay had a rivalry going back and forth. They were fighting at The Comedy Store and people got knocked down and their bodyguards had to jump in. So Sam storms off and goes home, does some lines of coke and calls the club and says he's coming back with a loaded gun and he's gonna shoot Dice. So I went to Dice and told him he had to get out of there and go home. So Dice leaves. Sam came back in his convertible Mustang, pulled right onto the sidewalk and was waving his .38 in the air. We told him Clay left but Sam went crazy and ran to the club looking for him and we heard the gun go off, the shot ricocheted off the sidewalk and it hit the sign for the club in the back. So there was a bullet hole in the sign for The Comedy Store for like fifteen years from Sam. But he didn't get to shoot Andrew Dice Clay.
Another time I was working at The Comedy Store and Richard Pryor came to the club and was hanging out backstage with me, Robin Williams and Sam Kinison. Robin and Sam went on stage and did a set and then Richard made me go on stage with him and he tore me to shreds -- every little white boy joke, small penis joke, you name it. It was no holds barred. And I stood there and I took it and then he asked me if I had something to say, and then I let him have it for 20 minutes about the extras he was having sex with on our movie and so on. It was great. Finally Richard said he had enough. Sam and Robin came back on stage and told me I did great. Richard gave me a hug and kiss and said, "That's my boy." Unfortunately there were no cell phone cameras so there's no way to prove it happened but it happened and I was in touch recently on Facebook with the guy who ran the spotlight that night and he remembers it.