The Hotel Clarence In The News
Zuzu opens her own 'Wonderful Life' museum
By Kathy Witt / McClatchy-Tribune
October 19, 2011
"Look Daddy, Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings."
One of the most memorable movie lines ever uttered was done so by child actress Karolyn Grimes while hugging Jimmy Stewart at the close of the 1946 film classic, "It's A Wonderful Life." Today, Zuzu Bailey is still embracing George Bailey and all things "Wonderful."
Last year, Grimes helped open the Seneca Falls "It's A Wonderful Life Museum," located in the New York town near Syracuse that many believe was the inspiration for the setting of fictional Bedford Falls. Grimes herself cites the main street architecture and steel truss bridge over the canal all part of the landscape in this village located on the shores of Cayuga Lake. And museum coordinator Anwei S. Law notes that the collection contains envelopes addressed to the "Bedford Falls" station.
"They write to the Seneca Falls Post Office from all over, people seeking a postmark from Bedford Falls," said Law.
The museum, tucked into what was the first movie theater in Seneca Falls, features primarily Grimes's personal collection of memorabilia: original press book, lobby card and stills; autographed items from various cast members; movie tie-in collectibles; different signs that have been made over the years; out-of-print books written about the movie; a very rare Clarence ornament.
"There is also a display of images from the film along with quotes from Frank Capra, focusing on his philosophy of filmmaking with an emphasis on the value and dignity of each person," said Law.
Added Grimes: "It's a little jewel that's starting to grow, but it's already special."
Recently, Grimes sent more boxes of memorabilia from her home to add to the museum displays and plans to send many more next spring.
This December the museum will celebrate its first full year a wonderful accomplishment in a year that marks the 65th anniversary of the movie.
To commemorate the occasion, the annual celebration planned by the local "It's A Wonderful Life" committee will take place from Dec. 9 to 11. This year's event will include appearances by the Bailey Sisters Zuzu and Janie (Karolyn Grimes and Carol Coombs-Mueller) plus tours at local historical sites and the museum, a luncheon and accommodations at the Hotel Clarence. Also, the Seneca Community Players will once again perform "Merry Christmas George Bailey," with shows scheduled for Dec. 4, 8, 10 and 11.
"Watching this movie is a tradition," said Grimes. "People have brought this movie into their homes and hearts. It is a movie with many layers, one that gives inspiration and hope and shows that each one of us is important we do matter.
"We're going to keep watching 'It's A Wonderful Life' for many years to come."
ABOUT THE MUSEUM
Seneca Falls "It's A Wonderful Life" Museum, 32 Fall St., Seneca Falls, NY 13148; therealbedfordfalls.com, 315-568-5838. Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tues.-Sat. and by appointment.
Admission: Free (donations greatly appreciated). To make reservations for the Christmas celebration, contact the Hotel Clarence at 315-712-4000.