Todd Karns

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Todd Karns
Todd Karns.jpg
in his film debut Andy Hardy's Private Secretary (1941)
Born Roscoe T. Karns, Jr.
(1921-01-15)January 15, 1921
Hollywood, California, U.S.
Died February 5, 2000(2000-02-05) (aged 79)
Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico
Resting place Aijijic, Mexico
Occupation Actor
Years active 1941–1955
Spouse(s) Katherine Karns (1944-2000) (his death) (3 children)
Parent(s) Roscoe Karns

Roscoe Todd Karns (January 15, 1921 – February 5, 2000) was an American actor perhaps best remembered for playing Harry Bailey, the younger brother of George Bailey in the Christmas classic film It's a Wonderful Life.

Early life[edit]

Karns was the son of the well-known character actor Roscoe Karns and his wife Mary Fraso. He initially planned to have a career as a newspaper reporter, but participation in a little theater production changed his mind, turning him toward acting.[1]


Karns started his film career in 1941 as Harry Land in two Andy Hardy movies with Mickey Rooney, but shortly after that, his beginning film career was interrupted by the Second World War, where Karns served in the Army Air Corps. When he returned to Hollywood, Karnes portrayed his signature role as Harry Bailey in Frank Capra's Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life (1946).

He often had minor film roles, such as in The Caine Mutiny (1954).


Karns played Jackson Jones in Jackson and Jill (1949-1953),[2] the first weekly situation comedy for television.[citation needed] He also appeared with his father Roscoe in the criminal series Rocky King, Detective (1950-1954), playing Sergeant Hart.[2]:905 He retired from the film and television business in the mid-1950s.

Later years[edit]

Karns and his wife Katherine with their three children moved to Mexico near Guadalajara where they opened the English-language venue, Lakeside Little Theater in 1971. There Karns produced and directed plays for the next three decades, until his cancer death at age 79.[3]


In addition to acting, Karns also made numerous paintings.[4] He began painting in January 1948 and went on to sell his works to individuals and to businesses. A newspaper reporter wrote, "His style is strictly his own and bears no resemblance to anything ever heard in an art class or put in a book."[5]


Karns died of cancer in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico on February 5, 2000, age 79.[6] His wife and children had his private family interment in Ajijic's cemetery.

Partial filmography[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Local Theatre Attractions". Santa Cruz Sentinel. California, Santa Cruz. March 9, 1941. p. 10. Retrieved December 18, 2016 – via  open access publication – free to read
  2. ^ a b Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7. P. 522.
  3. ^ Todd Karns, 79, Who Played Brother in 'It's a Wonderful Life'
  4. ^ Wonderful-Life Museum: Todd Karns (Harry Bailey) – Artist
  5. ^ Keavy, Hubbard (March 13, 1949). "'Anybody Can Paint -- Todd's Record Reveals". The Decatur Herald. Illinois, Decatur. Associated Press. p. 8. Retrieved December 17, 2016 – via  open access publication – free to read
  6. ^ III, Harris M. Lentz (2001). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2000: Film, Television, Radio, Theatre, Dance, Music, Cartoons and Pop Culture. McFarland. p. 123. ISBN 9780786410248. Retrieved 18 December 2016.