Virginia Patton, who died at the age of 97, played James Stewart’s sister-in-law Ruth Bailey in Frank Capra’s uplifting Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life in 1946. She was the only member of the cast that the director personally signed up for, all of her fellow actors were on loan from other studios, and she was the last adult actor to survive from the cast.
it’s a wonderful life Centered on Stewart’s George Bailey, contemplating taking his own life after the financial crisis, the angel Clarence (Henry Travers) explores what the world would have been like if George hadn’t been born. Saved when he earned wings by showing them to George.
A tall, blonde, dazzling young starlet, Patton got her part thanks to a mistake by the projectionist. She was making a test reel for producer/director George Stevens, but a few days later Capra was in the projection room watching an early scene of Donna Reed playing Stewart and his wife Mary. was it’s a wonderful life.
The projectionist picked up the wrong can of film and unknowingly screened Virginia’s test, but Capra stared at it and decided she was ideal for the part he had in mind. did.
The role was small but important. In a scene filmed at a Pasadena train station, Ruth steps off the train as the new bride of George Bailey’s brother Harry, announcing that his father has offered Harry a lucrative job elsewhere, and moving to Bedford Falls. It crushed George’s dream of leaving.
She loved working at Capra. “It was a great atmosphere that no other director could have created,” she said.
it’s a wonderful life It didn’t do well at the box office upon release, especially in the United States, but love for it blossomed as repeat showings became a Christmas TV staple. Patton joked that she was “in more houses than Santa Claus,” but while she was working on it, she knew there was something special about the film.
“People of all generations can still relate to Jimmy Stewart’s character,” she said in 2011.
1995 it’s a wonderful life One of 45 films selected by the Vatican to commemorate the 100th anniversary of cinematography.
However, Patton’s role was not as chaste as promised. As she said, “I was or thought I was a teenager playing a very sophisticated woman.”
These contrasting traits are revealed when Stewart kisses her in the film, but Capra told her this wasn’t going to happen.
Virginia Anne Marie Patton was born on June 25, 1925 in Cleveland, Ohio, the daughter of Donald Patton and his wife Marie. Her family moved to Portland, Oregon because of her father’s job, and she was educated at Jefferson High School before moving to California.
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“I wanted to do it in Hollywood,” she said. “I couldn’t think of anything else, but I must admit that I was a little disappointed when I arrived on Hollywood Boulevard to see Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, Hedy Lamarr and others hanging out on the sidewalk. not.”
She studied acting at the University of Southern California and soon secured several minor film roles at Warner Bros.
rear it’s a wonderful lifeshe made four more films, including the Ku Klux Klan Reveal burning cross (1947). But Warner Bros. released her from her contract the year before, and without the backing of her big studio, her career began to fall apart.
She retired from acting in 1949 to marry American Motors executive Cruz Moss. Capra urged her to think twice about giving up her acting career, but she had no regrets.
The couple settled in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she ran an investment business. Moss passed away in 2018. They had 3 children.
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