It’s Still A Wonderful Life
“No man is a failure who has friends.”
That is the inspiring and reassuring message of Frank Capra’s classic holiday film, “It’s A Wonderful Life.” With that theme, Capra was able to deliver an all-encompassing feeling of hope, faith, and charity– unconditional, brotherly love brought forth at the most special season of the year.
When I first came to The Debra Duncan Show, I made it a point to celebrate that classic movie with two special Christmas shows— one being a tale taken from the movie’s original story title, “The Greatest Gift.”
The other Christmas show I did that season also turned into a classic episode– and was another byproduct of my favorite movie. I called that show “It’s Still A Wonderful Life,” and the program included special guest Karolyn Grimes who played George Bailey’s daughter ‘ZuZu’ in the original holiday classic filmed back in 1946. ZuZu was immortalized in Hollywood history by uttering her famous line: “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.”
When you consider all the legendary stars Karolyn has shared the screen with, she was exposed to a veritable ‘who’s who’ from the Golden Age of Hollywood! Just think of the screen legends she’s worked with: Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Cary Grant, Fred MacMurray, Gary Cooper, Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Donna Reed, Boris Karloff, John Carradine, Glenn Ford, Sammy Davis, Jr., Randolph Scott, Betty Grable, Buster Keaton, David Niven, Maureen O’Hara, Danny Kaye, Angela Lansbury, Elsa Lanchester, Loretta Young, Rosalind Russell, Lon Chaney, Jr., Ida Lupino, Farley Granger, and even ‘The Skipper’ himself– Alan Hale, Jr.
In 1999, I had worked with Karolyn on another project in Philadelphia– and so the next year I called her up, and she graciously agreed to fly in to do our show. During the taping, Karolyn shared how her own life was a far cry from the picture-perfect Bailey family depicted in fictional Bedford Falls. Karolyn became an orphan at 15 and suffered many tragedies throughout her life. She revealed the heartbreaking story of how her young son actually did commit suicide in real life. Yet, her signature film helped her get through a lifetime of grief– just as it has helped countless others.
Mr. Capra’s cardinal sin for filmmakers was “dullness,” and I would say the same rule should apply to crafting television programs. That’s why I took great pains to find quality stories and compelling guests to fill an hour, instead of just going with “whatever.” Inevitably, that’s the difference between boring TV and great TV. As always, good TV has to be produced!
Like the movie, both of my Christmas shows ultimately celebrate the triumph of the human spirit. Of course, it doesn’t hurt if there’s also a little divine intervention along the way to get through the really sticky jams in life.
So then, under ‘Videos’ here is the wonderful segment with Karolyn recounting her Hollywood history and incredible life….along with the whole show itself– minus the slick Show Open I later post-produced. We know this show will put you in the right spirit for the holidays– and far beyond!
And whether you believe in angels or not, if you let the stories of this show’s diverse guests touch your heart….no matter what comes your way in life, you’ll come to the same conclusion: It’s Still A Wonderful Life.
Producer / Writer
Andre Dorsey, Brian Schack & Lawrence Moody