12 Facts about “It’s a Wonderful Life”

Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life is a holiday tradition for many. Growing up, our family watched it every year, to the point where I think I could recite the entire screenplay for you. But there are a number of fun, behind-the-scenes facts about the movie that I’d love to share with you this holiday season.

  1. Jimmy Stewart’s role was initially given to Buddy Ebsen, but Buddy had to drop out to play the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz.
  2. Bedford Falls is a fictional town but it is based on the real life city of Detroit.
  3. Henry F. Potter’s character was originally named Harry Potter, but Frank Capra changed it so that audiences wouldn’t mix him up with the boy wizard.
  4. Jimmy Stewart was forty-seven years older than Donna Reed.
  5. The actors playing George Bailey’s children are Jimmy Stewart’s real life children: Patrick Stewart, Martha Stewart, Rod Stewart, and Stewart Copeland.
  6. In spite of saying otherwise, Violet Bick always cared about how she looked.
  7. Every single actor from The Little Rascals has a part in the film.
  8. Contrary to popular opinion, Kermit the cop and Big Bird the cab driver were not named after Sesame Street characters.
  9. In an early version of the script, Mr. Martini’s bar was to be a front for a drug trafficking ring run by Harry S. Truman.
  10. The gym floor that opened over a swimming pool is based on a real life school gym that opens up over a pit of fiery lava.
  11. The Old Granville house was Frank Capra’s actual residence. They tore it apart and roughed it up for the movie. Fortunately, actress Donna Reed got everything fixed up again during filming.
  12. Young George Bailey always wished he had a million dollars. This is the same amount of ransom money that Dr. Evil wanted in Austin Powers. Coincidence!?

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed my contribution to the Fake News machine. Why, it’s almost like you can’t trust the internet anymore. But I hope even more that you have a wonderful Christmas and get some well-deserved rest. Be sure to drop by next week for my 2016 Year in Review.


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5 Comments for “12 Facts about “It’s a Wonderful Life””


As usual, thank you for the laugh. I too made it to “fact” two, but my reaction was more a WTF? kind of thing. If we can’t trust Charlie as a source of Truth, we’re doomed.

Checking up on things, Buddy was cast in the Wizard of Oz, but as the Lion, but then switched roles to become the Tin Man, only to succumb to a reaction to the aluminum in the make up. He didn’t actually appear in the film though his voice can be heard in several of the songs.

Considering Wonderful Life wasn’t filmed until 46 and Oz was done in 39, even that first fact was a lie. I’m sad I fell for it. I feel somewhat redeemed though as Politifact called the first one “half true”.



I played with the order quite a bit, wondering how long I should try and string people along. I definitely wanted to start with something that kinda sorta sounded like I maybe think I heard something like that once. But then I moved the obvious one up to the #2 spot so people could properly enjoy the rest of it. 🙂

Nice job on the Buddy Ebsen research. I actually didn’t know about the cast-as-Lion-first part. I’d only heard about the Tin Man / makeup reaction story.


Loved this post Charlie! I had no idea that Stewart Copeland was Jimmy Stewart’s son!

Merry Christmas!

p.s. and I can recite the whole movie pretty much from beginning to end – I may even watch it tonight! 😀

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