Karolyn Grimes and Jimmy Hawkins were just children when they stole hearts as Zuzu and Tommy Bailey in the iconic holiday film.
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It was nearly 75 years ago that Karolyn Grimes and Jimmy Hawkins starred in one of the most iconic holiday films in cinematic history. They were just children when they stole hearts as Zuzu and Tommy Bailey in Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, but their memories of working alongside the late, great James Stewart remain fresh.

Grimes and Hawkins, now 80 and 79 respectively, spoke to Fox News about what it was like bringing the beloved Hollywood classic to life—12 days of filming that has impacted generations of viewers.

“It's an honor to be in that movie because it means so much to people, not only in the United States but around the world,” Grimes shared. “And it makes such a difference in people's lives. I feel like it's become a part of American history, certainly film history... I feel very privileged to be a part of that.”

“We’re lucky that we're still around to carry Frank Capra's message of the movie—each man's life touches so many others that if they weren't around, it would leave an awful hole,” Hawkins added. “And that's why this picture is popular, because people feel, ‘Well, maybe there's a little bit of George Bailey in me.’ And it's a nice message. It's just a beautiful message.”

Last year, the black-and-white film was remastered and released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray for the first time. Clearer and crisper than ever, the updated version also features bonus footage of the picnic wrap party, including a clip of four-year-old Hawkins winning the watermelon contest. His trick? Swallowing the seeds!

“That’s it. You don't take time out... And I won,” he recalled. “Now they know I won.”

Both actors confirmed that Stewart was a joy to work with. Grimes said she still smiles thinking about the time he encouraged her when she was sick and kept messing up her lines. “He was a wonderful, wonderful man. He touched a lot of lives, just being him,” she said. “He was George Bailey in real life.”