• JP

Donna's first role off the MGM lot


Donna Reed in It's a Wonderful Life
Donna Reed in It's a Wonderful Life

March 15, 1946 - Donna Reed signs for the part of Mary Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life.

It's hard to imagine another actress in the role of Mary, but Donna Reed was not the only one considered. Frank Capra first approached Jean Arthur for the role, but she refused due to a prior commitment. Capra's notes show that he also considered Olivia de Havilland, Martha Scott, and Ann Dvorak.


Gossip columnist Hedda Hopper had been reporting that Ginger Rogers was being considered, but Capra's files do not indicate that she was ever sent a script. In fact, two days after Hopper's story appeared, he signed fresh-faced Donna Reed for the part and she was asked to report the following week. Records show that he had made up his mind to borrow her from MGM as early as January 30.