Karolyn Grimes played Zuzu, far right, the daughter of George and Mary Bailey (James Stewart and Donna Reed) in It’s a Wonderful Life.
Zuzu Shares the Story Behind her Name
By Kathy Feist
The Martin City Telegraph managed to catch up with Karolyn Grimes who keeps pretty busy this time of year. She played the part of Zuzu, the younger daughter in the film It’s A Wonderful Life. The movie will be playing round the clock at the Bailey Bros. Savings & Loan Assn.in Martin City this Christmas season.
Born in Hollywood, Grimes became a child star in such classics as The Bishop’s Wife, It’s A Wonderful Life, and Rio Grande. At the age of 15 she moved to Osceola, MO, to live with relatives after the deaths of her parents. She lived most of her adult life in Kansas City until the 1990s and now lives in Seattle.
“I’m busy every weekend,” says the former star who is now a spokesperson for It’s A Wonderful Life. At the age of 78, she finds herself traveling the country to film festivals, stage shows, and Christmas celebrations. She also autographs her many books on the film, one of which is a cookbook.
One particular recipe found in the book hints at the origination of her character’s name from the movie. Zuzu is thought to have come from a Nabisco cookie called Zu Zu Ginger Snaps, which were advertised widely a century ago in “Life” magazine and other national publications. “I was named after a cookie!” laughed Grimes. Further evidence of this is an inside-joke in the movie. Near the end, when movie dad, George Bailey, rushes up the stairs and Zuzu greets him, he replies with gusto, “Zuzu, my little ginger snap!“
Here is the recipe, from page 109 of “Zuzu‘s Recipes for It’s a Wonderful Life Cookbook“:
Zuzu’s Crackly Ginger Cookies
- 4 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 4 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
- 2 eggs
- Extra sugar for rolling cookies
Mix flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt together into large bowl. Beat shortening and sugar together in large bowl until well mixed. Beat in eggs and molasses. Work flour mixture into shortening mixture until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate dough overnight. Pinch off bits of dough and roll into 1 inch balls, then roll in extra sugar and place on greased cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Bake in preheated oven at 350° for about 10 minutes. Cool completely and store in airtight container.