November 26, 2001
Zuzu's Christmas in Carnation
CARNATION - Because of 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 six-year-old girl 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, Grimes 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. This screening will include some time for Grimes 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 nonperishable foods.
"In one scene, there is a message that has become a part of our lives," Grimes says. "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.'"
A motivational speaker, Grimes started going around the country in connection with the movie in 1993.
"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.'"
She makes a lot of fan club appearances for Wayne, Bing Crosby and Cary Grant.
"This year, after the tragic events in this country, this movie will be even more meaningful to our nation because of the values and expression of freedoms that it portrays," Grimes said. "It reminds us of family, friends and gives us hope."
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." She 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 cosponsored by City of Carnation Chamber of Commerce, Hopelink, Carnation Elementary School, and Tolt Congregational United Church of Christ. Organizers advise that no children under 12 will be admitted without an adult.