Peter Billingsley Pays Tribute to Late 'Christmas Story' Mom Melinda Dillon

Peter Billingsley has paid tribute to Melinda Dillon, the late actress who played his on-screen mom in A Christmas Story. Dillon passed away on Jan. 9, but her death was not widely reported until nearly a month later. Now, in an Instagram post, Billingsley shared a photo from their iconic holiday film and wrote a sweet message in the caption.

"So very sad to hear of Melinda Dillon's passing," the actor-turned-producer offered. "Working with her on A Christmas Story was such a privilege. She was kind, supportive, cool, thoughtful, giving and committed. Her body of work demonstrated her incredible range and talent. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to call her my on-screen mother. Rest in peace, Melinda." The post has been met with many heartfelt comments from fans, with one person writing, "It's heartbreaking, and I offer you and all who've worked with her my condolences. To her family, friends, and fans like myself, she'll always be remembered."

In his own memorial to the late actress, Zack Ward — who played Scut Farkus in A Christmas Story — shared a photo of Dillon and wrote, "Melinda Dillon was a KIND, patient, loving person with a wonderful laugh and gave great hugs. We all die. Love and be kind as best you can along this brief journey. She did."

Notably, both Billingsley and Ward appear in A Christmas Story Christmas, a 2022 HBO Max exclusive sequel to the iconic film. Dillon does not appear in the film, with her role of Mrs. Parker being played instead by Julie Hagerty. Darren McGavin, who starred as Mr. Parker in the original film, passed away in 2006.

A Christmas Story was directed by Bob Clark, from a screenplay he wrote with Jean Shepherd and Leigh Brown. To this day, A Christmas Story continues to be a hit with families, and is famously shown on TBS or TNT for 24 hours on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. There are a number of iconic holiday movies that we relive each season, and there is no denying that A Christmas Story is undoubtedly one of the greatest. 

Partly based on Jean Shepherd's semi-fictional anecdotes in his 1966 book In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash, the film was released in 1983 and didn't quite catch on with audiences right away. Over the years, the film's popularity grew, and it is now widely considered to be a Christmas classic, alongside films like It's A Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street. This year, the film will celebrate its 40th anniversary.