Karolyn Grimes

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Karolyn Grimes
Zuzu Bailey from It's a Wonderful Life.gif
Grimes in It's a Wonderful Life, 1946
Born (1940-07-04) July 4, 1940 (age 76)
Hollywood, California, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1945–1954
2015–present (acting)
Notable work It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

Karolyn Grimes (born July 4, 1940) is an American actress. She is best known for her role as "Zuzu Bailey" in the Frank Capra classic It's a Wonderful Life. She also played "Debbie" in the 1947 Christmas film, The Bishop's Wife starring Cary Grant, David Niven, and Loretta Young.

Personal life[edit]

Grimes was born in Hollywood, California. At age 5, she studied piano and violin at the Boyd School for Actors.[1]

Grimes' parents, Mr. and Mrs. La Van Grimes,[2] were teachers in Kansas City, Missouri.[1] Her mother pushed her into acting, but her acting career declined with her mother's health. The latter died from illness when Grimes was 14, and she lost her father from a car crash a year later. A court ruling sent her from Hollywood to Osceola, Missouri, where she lived in what she called a "bad home" with her aunt and uncle. She went to college in Warrensburg, Missouri at the University of Central Missouri, married, raised children, and became a medical technologist.

Grimes' adult years have been marked by tragedy. A young marriage ended in divorce, after which her ex-husband was killed in a hunting accident. Moreover, "Her second husband died of cancer. And most difficult of all, her son committed suicide at 18."[3]

Career[edit]

Grimes' film debut came when she was 6 months old.[1] She "first attracted attention with a role in Pardon My Past.[4]

It's a Wonderful Life[edit]

Donna Reed, Jimmy Stewart and Karolyn Grimes in It's a Wonderful Life (1946).

Zuzu had been a part of Grimes' past but as It's a Wonderful Life gained more attention, she gave local interviews in the 1980s and national interviews in the 1990s. Her first husband's death in a hunting accident, 18-year-old son's suicide in 1989, and second husband's death from cancer in 1994 made it difficult for Grimes to recover financially. After she suffered a serious financial setback during the early 2000s recession, she made a career of her advocacy for the film.[5]

She tours big-screen showings of It's a Wonderful Life at dinner theatres worldwide, signing autographs, sharing tidbits, and pointing out small 'goofs'.[6] She also produced a cookbook inspired by that role[7] and marketed a limited line of "Zuzu Dolls".[8]

Grimes was honored as a famous Missourian with a star on the Missouri Walk of Fame in Marshfield, Missouri. She also received the city's highest honor, The Edwin P. Hubble Medal of Initiative in 2007 at the annual Marshfield cherry blossom festival.[9]

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1945 That Night with You Orphan Uncredited
1945 Pardon My Past Stephanie Pemberton
1946 Sister Kenny Carolyn Scenes deleted
1946 Blue Skies Mary Elizabeth Adams
1946 It's a Wonderful Life Zuzu Bailey
1947 Sweet and Low Tammie Short film
1947 Vance's Gamble Pat Roberts Uncredited
1947 The Private Affairs of Bel Ami Laurine de Marelle
1947 Mother Wore Tights Iris Uncredited
1947 Unconquered Little Girl Uncredited
1947 The Bishop's Wife Debby Brougham
1948 Albuquerque City Myrtle Walton Also known as Silver City
1949 Lust for Gold Martha Bannister Also known as For Those Who Dare
1950 Rio Grande Margret Mary
1951 Honeychile Effie
1952 Hans Christian Andersen Copenhagen Match Girl Uncredited

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Behind the Scenes in Hollywood". Indiana, Valparaiso. The Vidette-Messenger. August 28, 1945. p. 4. Retrieved March 13, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication - free to read
  2. ^ "Joan Caulfield Wins Star Role In New Edward Robinson Film". New York, Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. June 21, 1947. p. 12. Retrieved March 14, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication - free to read
  3. ^ Nudd, Tim (December 24, 2013). "Karolyn Grimes, Actress Who Played Zuzu Bailey: 'No One Has a Wonderful Life'". People. Retrieved 15 March 2016. 
  4. ^ "Karolyn Grimes Bids For Moppet Stardom". New York, Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. August 25, 1946. p. 25. Retrieved March 13, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication - free to read
  5. ^ "It Wasn't Always a Wonderful Life for Little Zuzu Bailey". Social.entertainment.msn.com. Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  6. ^ "As Zuzu Can Attest, Americans Love Hopeful Ring of 'It's a Wonderful Life'". 
  7. ^ Zuzu Bailey's It's a Wonderful Life Cookbook. 
  8. ^ "It Was a Wonderful Part". 
  9. ^ "Marshfield Cherry Blossom Festival Homepage". 

External links[edit]