70 Years After The Release Of The Film, Bailey Kids From 'It's A Wonderful Life' Are Still Friends

December 6, 2017

It's been more than 70 years since the legendary Frank Capra released his iconic film It's a Wonderful Life back in 1946. And every year, people all over the world watch the heartwarming story of George Bailey and his family, filled with true Christmas spirit.

Turns out, the kids who were playing siblings in the Christmas classics – Karolyn Grimes (Zuzu), Carol Coombs (Janie), and Jimmy Hawkins (Tommy) – are good friends in the real life. And just like the fame of the Bailey family's story, their friendship lasts for more than seven decades.


Brother and sisters

In December 2016, It's a Wonderful Life celebrated 70 years since its release date. The three former child actors who played the Bailey kids gathered together to mark the special date. In an interview with NBC's Today, they recalled some of the most special moments they had on the film's set.

RKO Pictures Inc.

For instance, it turns out that the movie was not supposed to be released until March 1947. The main reason why people get to see it earlier, according to Jimmy Hawkins, was that another RKO Radio Pictures' film – Sinbad the Sailor – didn't have enough color copies.

But one of the most surprising things about this interview was the confession about the Bailey kids' real-life friendship. Carol Coombs was the first to talk on their behind the scenes relationships:

We’ve had a wonderful life – we’re three really good friends. Young kids who grew up to really admire each other and love each other. It’s true friendship.

And then Karolyn Grimes added the three of them are indeed like a true family:

We’re like brother and sister in many ways.

The movie hit the theaters in December 1946. Due to poor grossing, RKO Radio Pictures let its copyright lapse. The networks used their chance and started airing Frank Capra's movie every year around Christmas. And that is when both the film and its makers get the well-deserved recognition.

While the film itself is legendary, and many people can quote most of its lines along with the characters, there are still lots of things not everyone knows about Capra's classics. Here are a few of them.

While the main events of the story took place on Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life was actually filmed in summer.


The whole story of the Bailey family started with a tale printed on a Christmas greeting card. The film is based on The Greatest Gift written by Philip Van Doren Stern back in 1939. Four years later, the man published his story as a greeting card and sent 200 copies to his friends.

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Playing George Bailey's wife Mary was the very first starring role in Donna Reed's acting career.

Many generations raised watching It's a Wonderful Life every Christmas. And even today, it is hard to find a better movie for the winter holidays than the story of George Bailey's wonderful encounter with an angel and the true importance of doing the right thing.

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