Zuzu Still Thinks IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A Conversation with Karolyn Grimes

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Nothing completes the holiday experience more than an extra serving—to go with the booze and candied yams—of Frank Capra’s yule-tide yarn, of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. It’s a picture that can melt even the iciest of hearts and for those of us grown-ups with no self-worth (or money) in December, there’s just something downright conciliatory about it.

So, it’s no mistake that we’re irresistibly drawn to make offerings at the altar of George Bailey every year. Even if you take all that Capra-esque humanity away it’s still a really good flick about time travel and guardian angels.

But for Karolyn Grimes, who played little Zuzu Bailey it has become a wonderful full-time job, crisscrossing the country as the film’s unofficial ambassador and greeting devotees of the classic at events every holiday season for nearly 20 years. Fortunately, she made time between gigs to speak to us.

W2C: You’re best known for portraying Zuzu but by the time you were 13 you already had quite the filmography.                                                                                               

Karolyn Grimes: In all I was in 16 movies including The Bishop’s Wife with Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven; I was in Rio Grande with John Wayne, Albuquerque with Randall Scott, Blue Skies with Bing Crosby, and Hans Christian Anderson with Danny Kaye.

W2C: You left Hollywood when you were a teenager but did you ever want to be an actress again?                                                                                                                                                         KG: I never wanted to return to Hollywood because Hollywood people and the fakeness—very artificial and not dear to my heart. After I lived in the Midwest and I learned what sincere, real people were all about I never wanted to go back.

W2C: Tell us about your life before motion pictures.                                                                       KG: I grew up in Hollywood during WWII and my mother was afraid that my father was going to be drafted because she didn’t think we were going to be able to live on army pay. She didn’t want to have to get a job so she decided to put me to work and that’s how I got started in the movies.

W2C: How did a kid get started in 1940s Hollywood?                                                                      KG: My mother took me to see an agent and during those days all of the kid actors had the same agent. Her name was Lola Moore and she took care of all of us. Well, the agent liked me, sent me on interviews and bingo dingo I was in.

W2C: What do you remember most about the making of was IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE?

KG: I remember that Jimmy Stewart was a very tall man, six-feet-four and that I was always on his back or in his arms. And I remember the snow—which was fake but I liked it.

 

W2C: Did watching was IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE later in life through adult eyes provide a different experience for you than when you saw it as a child?

KG: Yes, but I didn’t see the movie until 1980.

 

W2C: Are you kidding?

KG: I hate to admit that but it’s true. I wasn’t a big TV watcher and I was raising a lot of kids at the time. And the only reason I did eventually get to it was to see what all of the hoopla was all about.

 

W2C: Didn’t they invite you to the premiere in 1946?

KG: I did go to the premiere but I went to sleep during it (laughs).

 

W2C: Well, was it worth the 35 years you waited to check it out?

KG: I loved every minute because it was something I could identify with.

 

W2C: How so?

KG: Because it was just so real. I was orphaned at 14 and sent to live with relatives in Osceola, MO where I experienced that Bedford Falls-like community. I was living in a home with an aunt and uncle which wasn’t happy or nice. [The town] knew I was under a lot of pressure--we’re talking merchants, teachers, my friends—and they all came together as a community and rallied me during those difficult years. I will always be grateful for the love, understanding, and compassion they gave me. I relive that every time I view the film.

 

W2C: Have you had moments of reflection, like George in the film, when you thought you hadn’t done enough for yourself even if you knew it was benefiting other people?KG: No, I don’t ever think that. George makes this choice and does what is better for other people rather than honor what he wants for himself. His core values are about doing for others and I have drawn greatly from that.

W2C: How did you come to be this ambassador for the film and travel around?           KG: I started with the Target Company in 1993 when their Christmas theme that year was IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE and they reunited the actors who played the Bailey kids. So we went all over and really had a blast getting the love from all of the fans and thought, ‘Whoopdi doo there’s something going on here.’ After that I started making appearances around the United States and England as well.

It’s a blessing to have an impact on people, to make people smile. It just washes over me and makes me feel wonderful.

W2C: Did you ever reunite with Jimmy Stewart in later years?                                                       KG: Oh yes, he found me. When the movie went bonkers in the ‘80s people wrote to him and asked, ‘what ever happened to Zuzu?’ so he found me in the middle of Kansas, we communicated, and became friends after that. We also made appearances together at events.

For a listing of Karolyn Grimes’ appearances this holiday season, visit her website.

Steve Karras is a contributing writer for the Chicago based publication Web2Carz.com. A long time writer and journalist he has covered the entertainment beat for many years.

Pictured: Karolyn Grimes with Jimmy Stewart in her inconic performance as ZuZu.

Article reprinted by permission of Web2Carz.com. Original article: ZuZu Still Thinks It's a Wonderful Life

 

Haute Tease

  • CNBC: As Coronavirus Kills Another Amazon Worker, The Company’s Response Is Adding To Employees’ Fears

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    An Amazon warehouse employee in Northeast Illinois passed away from the coronavirus, the company confirmed to CNBC. The employee died on April 18 and, according to sources, his last day at the facility was on March 19, 2020. 

     
  • Caroline Chu Anti Aging Starter Kit Review – Beautiful Design, Noticeable Results

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Caroline Chu, a newcomer to the very crowded high-end Beauty, Cosmetics and Skin Care market, has made a name for herself through a simple philosophy: Deliver to the consumer what is promised.

     
  • Beltway Insider: Obama/Syria/Russia; Haiti Devastated; Yemen Bombed; Trump’s Last Stand; Girl Power; Bob Dylan

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    President Obama and Russian President Putin have reached a stalemate in the effort to advance peace in Syria through diplomatic channels with the beleaguered soviet leader cancelling meetings with French President Hollande.

     
  • HL Paris Fashion Week: Ziad Nakad Fall Winter Collection - Feminine, Sensual, Elegant

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Ziad Nakad debuted his Fall/Winter Collection 2016/2017 formal wear collection during Paris Fashion Week, Ready-to-Wear, which stands as a tribute to the audacious and powerful woman; a woman of character, the woman affirmed in its brilliance, free to dress boldly, provocatively, sexy.

     
  • Actress and Baby Model Kaleah Roundtree - Baby, Oh Baby, Is She a Beautiful Baby

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Kaleah Roundtree, a beautiful two year old actress and baby model, is on the verge of becoming the most sought after African American baby talent since her role model, former Cosby Show actress, Raven Symone.

     
  • Beltway Insider: Trump Coronavirus Czar, CDC Preparedness, Travel Bans, Bob Iger, Election 2020

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    While President Trump has continued to downplay the significance of the Coronavirus, others have explained in the strongest language permitted the expectation that the virus, which has migrated across the globe, will eventually arrive in the United States.

     
  • Home, Décor: Tips for Enhancing Any Home's Entryway

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    First impressions are vital and a home’s entrance, front door and interior foyer, the area of the home that reveals as much about the homeowner as it does about the home needs to convey the homeowner’s signature message.

     
  • Chris Wedge, Director of Fox Animation’s Epic, Is The Blue Sky Man

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Chris Wedge, Director of the Fox Animation Studios release "Epic," has been in this place before, with an amazing, eye popping, brilliant full length animated feature still gathering raves, long after its box office run has ended, from fans and film critics alike.

     
  • UPDATE: Dozens Killed in Coordinated Terrorist Attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Four suspects are in custody in what is being called a coordinated terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, that left 49 dead after gunmen entered two separate mosques during noontime prayers and opened fire.

     
  • Critical New Discovery During Wisconsin Recount: Cellular Connectivity of Tabulators Leaves Door Open to Hacking

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    A huge security hole in our US elections, which allows alteration of vote totals by outsider or insider entities, was discovered during the Wisconsin recount, according to electronic security investigators from RecountNow.org.

     
  • Neil Armstrong, First Man to Walk on the Moon, Dies

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Apollo 11 Astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon's surface, died Saturday, in Columbus, Ohio, after experiencing complications from cardiovascular surgery. He was 82.

     
  • Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel Review – A Multi-Million Dollar Makeover Adds a Gem to a Jeweled Skyline

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    As the United States fifth largest city, more than 22 million visitors flock to metropolitan Phoenix annually. With a bustling downtown quadrant comprised of 100 square blocks, this section of town is teeming with fun and excitement.

     
  • Smithsonian Earths Presents, JAGO: A LIFE UNDERWATER, the Story Of 80-Year-Old Bajau Fisherman

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Smithsonian Earth, the subscription video streaming service from Smithsonian Networks(TM) that delivers spectacular original nature and wildlife content, will feature the award-winning one-hour 4K film JAGO: A LIFE UNDERWATER, starting on September 22.

     
  • Miami At Night Book Review – Captures the Silky Colors and Pulsating Heat of The Magic City

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Miami At Night, from Schiffer Publishing and author Bill Brothers, bring together a vibrant nocturnal explosion of pulsating neon’s rising with the dusk filling the nighttime skyline with golden, enchanted sunsets, truly magnificent cityscapes bursting with life.

     
  • stARTup Art Fair SF Artists Delve into Social Issues; Look for Hope in Turbulent Times

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    stARTup Art Fair is pleased to present its fourth San Francisco edition returning to the Hotel Del Sol in the Marina District, the startup Art Fair will open on Friday, April 26 and run through Sunday, April 28.