Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

Attica Hosts Question and Answer Session with Original "It's A Wonderful Life" Actors

On December 21,1946, “It’s A Wonderful Life” was released in New York City for its world premiere. The film would go on to be nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture by the American Film Institute.

In early January 1947, 300 men at San Quentin Prison watched the film. Unheard of at the time, it was the release of a first run film to a prison and the warden allowed those who viewed it to share their impressions of the movie with Director Frank Capra.

This year, DOCCS was contacted by the “It’s A Wonderful Life” Museum in Seneca Falls, N.Y. As a tribute to the movie, and its unprecedented showing at San Quentin, Attica's inmate population was chosen to view this historic movie, which was shown on multiple occasions to afford interested inmates an opportunity to watch it.

On Tuesday, December 4, 2018 inmates participated in a question and answer session with two of the original cast members: Jimmy Hawkins (Tommy Bailey) and Karolyn Grimes (Zuzu Bailey). To the delight of everyone in attendance, Karolyn Grimes reenacted her famous scene from the movie. As she rang a bell, she said: “Daddy, teacher says every time a bell rings, an angel gets it wings!”

Guests included Acting Commissioner Anthony Annucci, Associate Commissioner Charles Kelly, Anwei and Henry Law, museum representatives, and several Attica facility members.

The event was well received by the inmate population. At closing, inmates were encouraged to write a brief letter describing what the movie meant to them. Several responses will be donated to the “It’s A Wonderful Life” Museum and placed with the 1947 letters from San Quentin.

Jimmy Hawkins who played Tommy Bailey Jimmy Hawkins who played Tommy Bailey Jimmy Hawkins who played Tommy Bailey

First Picture: Jimmy Hawkins who played Tommy Bailey
Second Picture: Acting Commissioner Annucci addresses the audience with Jimmy Hawkins and Karolyn Grimes
Third Picture: Jimmy Stewart and Grimes who played Zuzu Bailey