Left: Donna Reed and Jimmy Stewart
Right: Auld Lang Syne - the Baileys rejoice as Clarence wins his wings

It's A Wonderful Life

Considered by many as director Frank Capra's greatest American classic, this seasonal tale of a man discovering the amazing impact he has on lives around him premiered December 20, 1946, at the Globe Theater in New York City. Its popularity in recent times has grown tremendously with the advent of television and video distribution. For many years, its pervasive appearances on late-night broadcast stations signaled the final approach of the Christmas holidays.

It's a Wonderful Life follows the life of hardworking George Bailey who always dreamed of adventure but found that his commitment to duty kept it long out of reach. Faced with desperate pressure from all sides of his frustrating life, he succumbs to an idea that his final duty and worth in life should be a sacrifice for an insurance policy to cover a loan. In steps his guardian angel Clarence to help show him what life would have been like without him. Through a series of encounters with bitter people he happily knew in his own meager life, he comes to realize and accept life's truest riches - his family and friends.

Much later in their lives, Donna Reed, Jimmy Stewart, and Frank Capra would all claim this project as their all-time favorite career film. Many fans, critics, and researchers reference its story, dialog, and characters as a universal foundation for discussion in their own work. Numerous articles and books have revealed remarkable details of its production and crew. For example, much to Capra's surprise, Donna actually threw her own stone to break the designated second story window pane in the film's famous wishing scene. She did this with her strong and precise baseball talents practiced long before with her farm brothers back in Iowa.

The film recently celebrated its 50th anniversary at the Donna Reed Festival in the summer of 1996. Surviving cast and crew members, including Bobbie Anderson, Argentina Brunetti, Carol Coombs, Karolyn Grimes, and Jimmy Hawkins, were reunited at a gala event where they reminisced with stories and unique insights from the film. Noted film critic and historian, Leonard Maltin, once remarked that "this film seems to improve with age." In the hearts of many, especially those in the audience of that special gala in Denison, nothing has rung more true.

Cast

  • George Bailey - Jimmy Stewart
  • Mary Hatch Bailey - Donna Reed
  • Henry F. Potter - Lionel Barrymore
  • Ma Bailey - Beulah Bondi
  • Uncle Billy - Thomas Mitchell
  • Clarence - Henry Travers
  • Ernie - Frank Raylen
  • Bert - Ward Bond
  • Violet Bick - Gloria Grahame
  • Mr. Gower - H.B. Warner
  • Harry Bailey - Todd Karns
  • Pop Bailey - Samuel S. Hinds
  • Cousin Tillie - Mary Treen
  • Sam Wainwright - Frank Albertson
  • Ruth Dakin Bailey - Virginia Patton
  • Peter Bailey - Larry Simms
  • Janie Bailey - Carol Coombs
  • Zuzu Bailey - Karolyn Grimes
  • Tommy Bailey - Jimmy Hawkins
  • Freddie .- "Alfalfa" Switzer
  • Cousin Eustace - Chrales Williams
  • Mr. Martini - Bill Edmonds
  • Mrs. Martini - Argentina Brunetti
  • Annie - Lillian Randolph
  • Little George - Bobbie Anderson
  • Little Sam - Ronnie Ralph
  • Little Mary - Jean Gale
  • Little Violet - Jeanine Ann Roose
  • Little Marty - Danny Mummert
  • Little Harry - Georgie Nokes
  • Nick the Bartender - Sheldon Leonard
  • Bodyguard - Frank Hagney
  • Rent Collector (Reineman) - Charles Lane
  • Tom (at Building & Loan) - Edward Kean
  • Mrs. Hatch - Sara Edwards
  • Joe Hepner - Ray Walker
  • Mr. Partidge - Harry Holman
  • Marty Hatch - Hal Landon
  • Mickey (with "Alfalfa") - Bobby Scott
  • Dr. Campbell - Harry Cheshire
  • Bank Examiner - Charles Halton
  • Bank Teller - Ed Featherstone
  • House Owner - Farrell MacDonald
  • Tollhouse Keeper - Tom Fadden
  • Bill Poster - Gary Owen
  • Mr. Welch - Stanley Andrews
  • Jane Wainwright - Marian Carr
  • Man on Porch - Dick Elliott
  • Mrs. Davis (Building & Loan) - Ellen Corby
  • Sheriff - Al Bridges
  • Joseph (Angel's Voice) - Joseph Granby
  • Franklin (Angel's Voice) - Maroni Olsen

Cast list from Jimmy Hawkins' "The 'It's a Wonderful Life' 1994 Calendar," The Jimmy Hawkins Co., 1993

Donna Reed Foundation - 1305 Broadway - Denison, Iowa - 51442 - USA - 712.263.3334 - 712.263.8026 (fax)

All Materials Copyright Donna Reed Foundation © 1998 - 2017 - Website questions contact Webmaster - About This Site
Oscar® and Academy Awards® are copyrighted © registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences®

Promoting excellence in education and community since 1986.
The Donna Reed Foundation for the Performing Arts is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Today is 25 June 2017.