November 19, 2001
Zuzu's Christmas in Carnation
Special screening of It's a Wonderful Life set to raise funds for Hopelink
Due to a small movie role she played in 1946, this is the busiest time of the year for Karolyn Grimes. That's because most people know her as Zuzu Bailey, the 6-year-old in It's a Wonderful Life who tells Jimmy Stewart (George Bailey), "Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings."
On Saturday, Dec. 1, Karolyn will be appearing at a special screening of It's a Wonderful Life to top off the "Christmas in Carnation" celebrations. The movie will be shown at the Carnation Elementary School auditorium at 7 p.m. No children under 12 will be admitted without an adult. This screening will include some time for Karolyn to discuss the making of the film and what it was like working with movie legends such as Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. There will be an opportunity for fans of this Christmas classic to ask questions and to meet Zuzu in person.
Admission to this event is a donation to Hopelink money or non-perishable foods. Karolyn shares, "In one scene, there is a message that has become a part of our lives. It is a saying that hangs on a wall in the Bailey Building and Loan Office. It says, 'All you can take with you is that which you've given away.'"
Hopelink serves homeless and low-income families, children, and the elderly.
A motivational speaker, Grimes started going around the country in connection with the movie in 1993 as a part of a Target stores holiday promotion. Then she started making appearances on her own.
"Every year, the movie grows more popular and these days folks watch it year round. It's a part of people's lives. They want to share a piece of it, and I'm still a piece of it. I don't have my wings yet," she said.
"Despite its current success, the movie didn't do well when it came out. It was known as "Capra-corn," a phrase director Frank Capra noted in a train station scene where characters are eating popcorn," Grimes said. She added that the movie became popular because "it gives people a chance to reflect on their own lives, and feel their nostalgia for simpler times."
She often hears that the film stopped people from taking their own lives as the character George Bailey contemplated in the movie.
Although Grimes acted in 16 films before she was orphaned at 15, this is the one for which she is best known.
"Sometimes people ask me about The Bishop's Wife, and last summer the John Wayne Film Society in England had me speak about my role in Rio Grande."
When asked why she made Carnation her new home, she said, "In all my travels over the years, nothing has come closer to heaven on earth as the beautiful Northwest."
Karolyn and her husband Christopher Brunell moved to Carnation a few years ago from Kansas City and have never looked back. "This is truly our own Bedford Falls."
This event is co-sponsored by City of Carnation Chamber of Commerce, Hopelink, Carnation Elementary School, and Tolt Congregational United Church of Christ.