Karolyn Grimes (born July 4, 1940) is an American actress. She is best known for her role as "Zuzu Bailey" in the Frank Capra classic It's a Wonderful Life. She also played "Debbie" in the 1947 Christmas film, The Bishop's Wife starring Cary Grant, David Niven, and Loretta Young.
Grimes was born in Hollywood, California. At age 5, she studied piano and violin at the Boyd School for Actors.
Grimes' parents, Mr. and Mrs. La Van Grimes, were teachers in Kansas City, Missouri. Her mother pushed her into acting, but her acting career declined with her mother's health. The latter died from illness when Grimes was 14, and she lost her father from a car crash a year later. A court ruling sent her from Hollywood to Osceola, Missouri, where she lived in what she called a "bad home" with her aunt and uncle. She went to college in Warrensburg, Missouri at the University of Central Missouri, married, raised children, and became a medical technologist.
Grimes' first marriage ended in divorce, after which her ex-husband was killed in a hunting accident. her 18-year-old son committed suicide in 1989, and her second husband died from cancer in 1994.
Grimes' film debut came when she was 6 months old. She "first attracted attention with a role in Pardon My Past.
Zuzu had been a part of Grimes' past but as It's a Wonderful Life gained more attention, she gave local interviews in the 1980s and national interviews in the 1990s. After she suffered a serious financial setback during the early 2000s recession, she made a career of her advocacy for the film.
Grimes tours big-screen showings of It's a Wonderful Life at dinner theatres worldwide, signing autographs, sharing tidbits, and pointing out small errors. She also produced a cookbook inspired by that role and marketed a limited line of "Zuzu Dolls".
Grimes was honored as a famous Missourian with a star on the Missouri Walk of Fame in Marshfield, Missouri. She also received the city's highest honor, the Edwin P. Hubble Medal of Initiative in 2007 at the annual Marshfield cherry blossom festival.
|1945||That Night with You||Orphan||Uncredited|
|1945||Pardon My Past||Stephanie Pemberton|
|1946||Sister Kenny||Carolyn||Scenes deleted|
|1946||Blue Skies||Mary Elizabeth Adams|
|1946||It's a Wonderful Life||Zuzu Bailey|
|1947||Sweet and Low||Tammie||Short film|
|1947||Vance's Gamble||Pat Roberts||Uncredited|
|1947||The Private Affairs of Bel Ami||Laurine de Marelle|
|1947||Mother Wore Tights||Iris||Uncredited|
|1947||The Bishop's Wife||Debby Brougham|
|1948||Albuquerque City||Myrtle Walton||Also known as Silver City|
|1949||Lust for Gold||Martha Bannister||Also known as For Those Who Dare|
|1950||Rio Grande||Margret Mary|
|1952||Hans Christian Andersen||Copenhagen Match Girl||Uncredited|