Not many local residents are aware that the author of a classic Christmas film lived out his days as a Sanibel islander.
Jean Parker Shepherd was a 1950s radio personality, writer, and actor best remembered for the now-classic movie “A Christmas Story,” a film he co-wrote and narrated and is listed as one of America’s favorite holiday stories. The story documents a boy’s zeal to have a BB gun for Christmas, and the movie now has its place on a 24-hour loop on TBS each Christmas. Shepherd also appeared in a cameo in the 1983 film.
Shepherd moved to Sanibel in 1984, and because he was a known night owl, neighbors in the Sanibel neighborhood where he resided have shadowy recollections of his activities, his involvement. One woman recalled that a limousine each year stopped at the Shepherd home to retrieve its famous occupant, whoosh him off to who knew where, the neighbor said. The woman believed that Disney Pictures was footing the bill.
In radio, Shepherd was best known in the 1950s for long monologues without a script, improvising, something along the lines of a Garrison Keillor. He was a fixture on New York City radio for two decades, mixing humor and mocking rants with his memories of Indiana childhood. Many consider Shepherd the master of talk radio, radio spoofs and other inventiveness. The comedian Jerry Seinfeld credits Shepherd with aiming his career into a more observational direction. Seinfeld, in fact, named one of his children Shepherd.
Jean Shepherd finished his days on Sanibel and passed away on October 16, 1999.
Credit to Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander