If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
NEW YORK (AP) — It was just another job for child actor Karolyn Grimes. She was 6 and had already done four movies by the summer of 1946 when filming began on “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The only thing she recalls about the biggest movie of her career was being delighted to play in snow on the set.
That single job would become very memorable to a lot of other people. “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which marks its 75th anniversary this year, is now a beloved holiday tradition across the globe.
“It’s a once-a-year pick-me-up for the humanity of America and the world,” Grimes told The Associated Press. “It’s a good impetus to really keep us going in a positive direction.”
“It’s a Wonderful Life” was released in late 1946, produced and directed by Frank Capra and starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. It takes place on Christmas Eve in a small town.
The film centers on the character of George Bailey, played by Stewart, who considers suicide until his guardian angel intervenes and shows him all the people whose lives he has touched and the difference he has made in the community.
One memorable character is Zuzu, played by Grimes. She gets to say, “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.” And the petals from Zuzu’s rose — stuffed into a pants pocket by Stewart’s Bailey as he comforts his sickly daughter — become a symbol of life.
If Grimes is sort of fuzzy on the filming details, Jimmy Hawkins, another former child actor who played Tommy in the film, is the opposite. He recalls as a 4-year-old getting up while it was dark and taking buses and streetcars to Culver City to film his scenes.
“I have vivid memories of doing that film,” he says. “On the set, Capra would squat down, eye-to-eye, tell me what he wanted me to do and did I understand it. I said, ‘Oh, yes, sir.’”
Grimes and Hawkins are the last surviving members of the cast and have chosen to represent the film’s legacy and spread its lesson of doing good.