"It was the phone calls at three o'clock in the morning," he says. "These girls would whine, 'Scotty, my boyfriend and I had a fight. Can you pick me up?' I'd say, 'Do you have a car? Why are you calling me? Go get a hotel, and leave me alone.' I got tired of all the bullshit."
Today, the 37-year-old Schwartz runs a baseball-card and movie-memorabilia shop with his dad in suburban San Diego. Most weekends, he flies cross-country for autograph sessions with fellow Christmas Story cast members, including Ian Petrella (who played Randy), Zack Ward (Scut), and Tedde Moore (Miss Shields).
This weekend, the foursome stops in Cleveland for three free meet-and-greets (see below for info). They'll also appear at Friday's opening-night performance of the film's stage adaptation at the Cleveland Play House. They'll participate in the Winterfest parade (at 6 p.m. Saturday on Public Square) and will be guests of honor at a screening of the movie (8:15 p.m. Saturday at Tower City Cinemas, 230 West Huron Road; $8, $5.25 for kids).
Partially shot in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood as well as downtown, the movie is set in 1940s Indiana, where Ralphie is hoping for a BB gun for Christmas. More than two decades later, Schwartz is still floored at the flick's contribution to Americana. "To say we're amazed at its popularity would be the understatement of the millennium," he says. "And it's unbelievable that a nice Jewish kid from New Jersey like me would end up in a Christmas classic." -- Cris Glaser