‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ Star Karolyn Grimes Reveals Why She Left Showbusiness

by Liz Holland

“It’s a Wonderful Life” is an absolute Christmas classic. Families everywhere include the 1946 film in their holiday traditions. Karolyn Grimes, who stars in the film, was only 6 years old when she was offered the life-changing role. Grimes had done a few movies leading up to this, but her role as Zuzu in “It’s a Wonderful Life” was certainly a turning point. Her character is the one who delivers the iconic line, “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.”

Grimes is 81 years old now, but no longer in show business. However, she continues to pursue new passions. To celebrate the film’s 75th anniversary, Grimes published an “It’s a Wonderful Life” cookbook. She shares her favorite recipes, and anecdotes from her time on set for the film. Grimes revealed in an interview with FOX news details of her time in show business, and why she’s no longer a part of it.

One unique thing about Grimes’ experience is how she got the role in the first place all those years ago. Grimes tells FOX, “We didn’t have auditions back in the day. We had interviews. And most of the kids had the same agent. So if the studio said, ‘We want a blond-hair, blue-eyed freckled kid,’ they had a hand at picking the best child for the role. They had a hand at picking everyone, even the extras. I spoke to Mr. Frank Capra himself and next thing you know, I got the role!”

“It’s A Wonderful Life” Continues To Touch Hearts 75 Years Later

Her role in that film continues to touch hearts, over 70 years after its release. Grimes reveals that she had no idea how big of an impact the film had until someone came knocking on her door in 1980. They asked for an interview– and it was only after they left that Grimes sat down and watched the film for the first time at age 40. Grimes says, “When it was over, I realized what a masterpiece it was. I then understood why people were so interested in it still. You have to remember, when you’re making a film, you’re just doing a job. And then you move on to the next project. Sometimes you never really get to see it. To this day, I regret the fact that I never started watching it as a family tradition in my own home.”

When it comes to why Grimes left show business, it’s complicated. Her parents passed in her preteen years, which meant Grimes had to move from Hollywood to Kansas. While Grimes shares she was in a horrible home situation, the people of her town supported her where she needed it, giving her love and fueling her self-confidence.

Grimes shares of her time in Kansas, “I realized I didn’t want to go back to Hollywood anymore. It was a shallow, dog-eat-dog world. I didn’t want that in my life. So I felt content staying in Kansas. At first, I did miss Hollywood. But after I was in Kansas for a year, things changed for me.” She goes on to explain that in Kansas, “I went to live with my father’s brother and his mean wife. She immediately cut all my ties with anybody I’d ever known or worked with in Hollywood. It became my past life.”