1of3Actress Karolyn Grimes speak at a distinct screening of "It"s a exorbitant Life" at the Alamo Drafthouse. Robert Saucedo, right, leads the Q& session.

You are watching: Teacher says every time a bell rings

Claire Goodman / employee writerShow MoreShow Less

2of3Karolyn Grimes was 6-years-old when she played Zuzu Bailey in the 1946 standard film "It"s a wonderful Life"

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Every Christmas season, bells jingle, bells carol and also sleigh bells ring. And anyone who has seen the movie “It’s a exorbitant Life” knows that behind every joyful sound, an angel has actually earned his wings.

Karolyn Grimes, that played Zuzu Bailey in the 1946 standard film, yielded the well known line, “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings” at the period of 6. She never pursued an exhilaration career past that role, but her character has touched the lives of viewers for the previous seven decades.

As a distinct celebration for the Christmas season, the Alamo Drafthouse in LaCenterra organized a distinct screening the “It’s a exorbitant Life” v Grimes together the guest of honor. Grimes reflected on her role in the film as well as the time she invested working together film icons James Steward, Donna Reed and also Lionel Barrymore.

Grimes’ involvement in the film started when manager Frank Capra determined her because that the role. Follow to Grimes, Capra personal selected every actor and actress in the film, no matter how little the role. That even decided the film extras. “There are over 2,000 actors in the movie,” Grimes marveled, “and that hand-picked every one.

Grimes recalled the Capra was an extremely kind to the kids actors and had an easy rapport with them. “He would get down ~ above his knees and also look in our eyes, and also tell us exactly what the wanted us to do,” she said.

As she was just 6-years-old at the moment of filming, Grimes was typically unaware the how famous some of her co-stars were, however she vividly remembers James Stewart, who played her father in the film.

Said Grimes: “People questioning me all the time what that was favor working through Donna Reed. And also I don"t even remember. I was so absorbed with (Stewart). I was into him every the way. We had actually a chemistry going, and also I yes, really felt prefer I was his little girl. And he was simply so gentle and kind.”

“It’s a wonderful Life” is one of only 2 acting experiences for Grimes. The movie was no a critically-acclaimed struggle at the moment of that is release, and Grimes left the Hollywood step not lengthy after. She went on to have actually seven children, and also her emphasis for numerous years was increasing her children and also working in ~ her task in clinical technology. In fact, Grimes never even saw the film, and her recollections of the moment she spent working ~ above what would later be remembered as one of the greatest films of every time wafted into the recesses of she memory.

Grimes trust the film’s lackluster debut was as result of the fact that the film to be rushed through production to release it over time for Christmas. “(Capra) did the ideal he can to acquire it out on time, yet he didn"t obtain it released till December the 20th. That was as well late come really make it pop and also be good,” she recalled. Coupled v the deluge that post-World war II feel-good movies saturating audiences, “It’s a exorbitant Life” was favor white noise. “It kind of just died on the vine after ~ that,” Grimes said.

The film could have drifted into full obscurity were it not for a strange revolve of events that would bring “It’s a wonderful Life” and also Grimes herself earlier into the limelight.

This time around, there is no the hindrances that hasty marketing and also a bombardment the like-genre films, audiences to be able to evaluate the subtle genius that a film the is currently synonymous with Christmas itself. “It’s currently a Christmas tradition almost everywhere the united States, and it"s rated the number one most inspirational movie of all time by the American film Institute,’ Grimes reported.

After the film’s resurrection into Hollywood, the public began to clamor for the original cast members. Grimes to be living in Kansas City at the time, and also she still had actually not checked out her very own film. “A film crew confirmed up at my door one day and asked, ‘Were you the little girl in that movie?’ and I said, ‘Yes.’ and they said, ‘Great, deserve to we interview you?’” Grimes laughed.

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“After that, I came to be famous,” she added.

Finally, end 30 years after the film’s release, Grimes observed the movie. “I sat down and watched the film, and I knew. I simply knew ideal then and there how special it was.”

After the Q&A, Grimes met through fans in the lobby that Alamo Drafthouse to speak one-on-one about her life experiences, but before she left the theater, Grimes added, “Don’t forget, Teacher says, every time a bell rings, an point of view gets his wings.”