Since everyone is interested in the Oscars, I thought I would revisit a story about a actress who lived in Kansas for years, and appeared in one of the most famous Christmas movies of all time: “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Now, for much of her life, Karolyn Grimes lived in the Northeast part of the state. For her, the old black and white movie is as powerful today as when she appeared in it as ZuZu.
“Look Daddy, every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.”
Now you remember her. The little golden haired girl who watched her father, played by Jimmy Stewart, find out what life is all about.
“I can see, and it even inspires me today, to touch other people’s lives in good ways if I can.”
Working as a child star in Hollywood, her life was different than yours or mine. These were her friends, Gary Grant, Gabbie Hayes—
“I can tell you that Gabby Hayes had the most awful lunch every day. At least that is what I remember as a kid. He really didn’t have any teeth, and he had buttermilk and cornbread in it, every day of the world for lunch, and you know, I never forgot that.”
“Bing Crosby, he was another one of my favorites. He was a fun man.”
But it was this movie, “It’s a wonderful life”, that put her in movie history forever.
And Jimmy Stewart is still one of her favorite people.
“I think he walked around wondering well, ‘how am I so good’? How is this all happening to me?”
“I don’t think ever once it occurred to him that he was a great actor.”
There is a lot of trivia associated with the movie, and this old Ginger Snap tin may
hold a clue as to where the name ZuZu came from.
“As he comes home from his escapade, he finds that he really loves his family, he dashes up the stairs and I run up the stairs to greet him. He says:”
“ZuZu, my little ginger snap.”
Karolyn, left Hollywood in her early teens following her mother’s death. Her father died a year later, she was then sent to Missouri to live with an aunt.
But does she miss Hollywood.
“No, I do not miss it at all.”
Surrounded by memorabilia of her Hollywood days, she still has friends there, and when she tells them she is from ‘Kansas’.
“You mean the land of Oz? That’s all I ever hear. And I say, ‘That’s the place.’”
Hollywood is now a memory, and ZuZu has grown up, for the rest of us, she will always be Jimmy Stewart’s daughter with this memorable line.
“Look daddy, every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.”
“I was always fascinated by the angels in the churches. I always thought they were beautiful. But I had no idea they would have this much meaning in my life, and boy they sure do.”
Karolyn Grimes has since moved out of Kansas and now lives on the West coast, but she is still actively involved in promoting that old movie.