'Wonderful Life' trivia book is just in time for Christmas

December 11, 1992|By Cox News Service

Just in time for the holidays, when "It's A Wonderful Life" i showing 24 hours a day somewhere on cable TV, stores are selling a trivia book about the classic Christmas film.

It's a wonderful idea, huh? A little stocking stuffer paperback, about the size of a videotape and priced at $10.

Actually, the authors -- former child actors Jimmy Hawkins and Paul Petersen -- are themselves fodder for the fans of Hollywood trivia.

At the age of 4, Mr. Hawkins played Tommy Bailey, the younger son of Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, in "It's a Wonderful Life." Mr. Petersen played Jeff Stone, Ms. Reed's son on "The Donna Reed Show." They have been friends since 1958 when Mr. Hawkins got the part of Scotty on "The Donna Reed Show."

"When he came onto the set for the first day to play Shelly Fabares' boyfriend, Donna Reed looked him in the eye and said 'Rip Van Winkle' because she remembered his nickname on 'It's a Wonderful Life' because he always fell asleep," recalled Mr. Petersen. "They had to wake him up to do his work."

They consider themselves the "reel sons" of Reed, who died in 1986. Part of the proceeds from the book sales will go to the Donna Reed Foundation for the Performing Arts.

The authors spent 18 months researching film archives and tracking down the surviving actors and production people who worked on the 1946 movie, which was directed by the late Frank Capra. It wasn't much of a hit when first released.

"Television really resurrected the picture," said Mr. Petersen. After 1973, when Republic Pictures failed to renew the copyright, television stations could show the film for free.

Abruptly, "It's a Wonderful Life" became a TV staple of the Christmas season. Millions of fans watch it year after year.

The 128-page book mixes pictures and recollections of those involved in "It's a Wonderful Life" -- Jimmy Stewart wrote the forward -- with trivia questions and answers about the film.

L For example: What is the last line of dialogue in the movie?

Answer: George Bailey ( Mr. Stewart) looks heavenward and says "Attaboy Clarence."

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