Fiesta has connection to Christmas movie

In one of the most memorable scenes in the 1983 Christmas classic “A Christmas Story,” the mother induces her younger son, Randy, to eat his dinner by exhorting him to “show me how the piggies eat.”

Randy, played by actor Ian Petrella, lifts up his plate and buries his face in a messy array of meatloaf and mashed potatoes, provoking laughter from his mother and a look of disgust from his father.

What’s not as well-known – except among plate-turners – is the fact that Randy is “eating” from a Fiesta dinner plate. The Fiesta backstamp on the Old Ivory plate is clearly visible, said Kathy Holley, an avid Fiesta collector from Racine, Wis.

“If you look closely in the movie, you can also see a vintage cream soup bowl, nappy bowls and a Hoosier-type cabinet that appears to have more colorful (Fiesta) ware inside,” she said.

Holley, 53, a member of the Homer Laughlin China Collectors Association and regular visitor to the Ohio Valley, recently had one of her own Old Ivory Fiesta plates autographed by Petrella, who was 8 at the time the movie was made.

As first related on the “Plate Turners of the World, Unite!” Facebook group, Holley attended a Racine screening of “A Christmas Story” on Friday at which Petrella made an appearance. This is the 30th anniversary of the movie’s premier.

“Some of the actors are doing their part to keep the spirit of the movie alive. … When I realized it was Randy, I got it in my head, ‘I should take a Fiesta plate for him to sign,'” she said.

Other people were having him sign DVD copies of the movie or memorabilia such as the leg lamp, but Petrella expressed surprise at being asked to autograph the plate featured in one of the movie’s most famous scenes, Holley said.

“I said, ‘Do you know what this is?’ and he said, ‘Oh, yeah. I know what that is,'” Holley said. “He said no one had ever asked him to sign one before. … He was a really good sport about it.”

Although Petrella took some movie mementos – the snow suit, the toy zeppelin – with him as a child, the Fiesta plate was not among them, Holley said. “But he definitely knew what the Fiesta was,” she said.

In addition to his name, Petrella wrote “Eat Like a Piggy” and “Oink, Oink” on Holley’s plate.

Holley, a former broadcast journalist, said she began collecting Fiesta in 1993 after being introduced to the distinctive, colorful dinnerware by a friend in Montana who used it.

Holley first collected vintage Fiesta – made by the Homer Laughlin China Co. from 1936 to 1973 – but later expanded to contemporary colors, Homer Laughlin’s Harlequin line, Hall China Co. ware, and Taylor, Smith & Taylor pottery. Homer Laughlin reintroduced Fiesta in 1986 and currently has 15 colors in production at its plant in Newell.

While popular culture sightings of Fiesta are a favorite pastime of plate-turners, Holley said seeing Fiesta on “A Christmas Story” was extra special.

“Anyone who grew up in the Midwest has their own funny memories of Christmas. (The movie) just captures the excitement and joy of Christmas for all of us as kids,” she said.

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