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It’s a Wonderful Life at 70: A Toast to the Richest Film in Town (Video)

George and Mary Bailey, played by Donna Reed, mid-embrace after receiving news via a phone call from Sam. From Everett Collection.

 For Karolyn Grimes, this is the most Wonderful time of the year. The former child actress is booked solid each holiday season to introduce screenings of Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. It is perhaps the most cherished, quoted, and oft-seen American Christmas film—and she co-stars as one of its most cherished and oft-quoted characters.

Grimes portrayed ZuZu, George Bailey’s youngest daughter: the “little ginger snap” with the petals, who utters the immortal line, “Look Daddy, teacher says every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.”

Hers is an odd sort of celebrity. Her name is most likely unfamiliar; she is not often recognized when she goes out. “But when they find out who I am, believe me, they light up,” Grimes tells Vanity Fair. “That to me is a real blessing.”

This year marks It’s a Wonderful Life’s 70th anniversary, a momentous occasion for a film whose life hasn’t always been so wonderful. Though the movie initially received good reviews, it underperformed at the box office. “This was the first full Christmas after the war,” Jeanine Basinger, author of The It’s a Wonderful Life Book, noted in an interview. “Everyone was celebrating and in a happy mood. The film has an upbeat ending, but you suffer quite a bit before you get there. And that was part of its problem.” READ MORE

By Vanity Fair, excerpt posted on SouthFloridaReporter.com , Dec. 3, 2016 


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