Bob Anderson (1933 – 2008), seen here in a 1946 publicity still from IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE at the age of 12.

Bob Anderson will forever  be remembered for playing the young James Stewart in IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE.

Bob’s father, Gene, was an assistant director and production manager in Hollywood .His uncles were directors William Beaudine and James Flood.

At the age of seven, Bob first appeared on screen in Shirley Temple’s YOUNG PEOPLE.  He had some uncredited roles in the early 1940’s  then won the role of young George Bailey in IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE.


Young George always wanted to travel.



With H.B.Warner.

The famous scene where young George saves the druggist Mr.Gower from putting poison by mistake into a prescription. George refuses to deliver the prescription and Mr. Gower hits him.

( Mr.Gower has been drinking after getting the shattering news that his son has been killed in the war.)


With H.B.Warner as Mr. Bower.

Bob later said that H.B.Warner actually blooded Bob’s ear when he slapped him, though the elderly actor hugged him afterwards.

It is Mr.Gower who, at the end of the film, collects money to help George.

James Stewart, Donna Reed, Ward Bond, Todd Karns, Beulah Bondi, H.B.Warner, Gloria Grahame, Frank Faylen, Thomas Mitchell.


With Thomas Mitchell as ‘Uncle Billy’.


”I wish I had a million  dollars. Hot dog!”


James Stewart, H.B.Warner.


Despite  an excellent performance, the classic film did not lead to other leading roles. Bob had minor roles in THE BISHOP’S WIFE, KIDNAPPED and SAMSON AND DELILAH.

Bob, behind Cary Grant in THE BISHOP’S WIFE (1947).


Bob, as the young Zachary Scott in RUTHLESS (1948).

Bob’s character again saves someone from drowning – in this film, Ann Carter.


Raymond Burr appeared briefly in RUTHLESS, playing Bob’s father .


On two occasions, Bob was in films directed by his uncle, William  Beaudine – KIDNAPPED (1948) and BORN TO THE SADDLE (1953).


Bob, in 1995.

From the 1950s, Bob worked behind the scenes, as an assistant director and production manager, like his father. He worked up till 1993, including TV series, THE TIME TUNNEL, POLICE WOMAN and WONDER WOMAN.

Bob served in the Navy during the Korean War as a photographer on aircraft carriers.


Bob wrote the foreword for Stephen Cox’s book, “It’s A Wonderful Life, A Memory Book.”

Bob said,  “It was nice to know that after slugging it out with the studios as a production guy for more than 30 years, people remembered my on-camera work when I was young, and that they appreciated my performance.”

Bob made an appearance on NBC’s Today show in 1997. Would love to see it.


Seneca Falls

The small town of Seneca Falls, New York claims to be the inspiration for Frank Capra’s Bedford Falls and in 2010, local resident  Chris Podzuwelt started a museum devoted to the classic film.There is now an annual festival ( the next one is December 5th to the 9th).

Guests at the 2018 festival will include Karolyn Grimes who played ‘Zuzu’ and Jimmy Hawkins who played ‘Tommy Bailey’, plus Frank Capra’s granddaughter ,Monica  and Mary and Tony Owen, children of Donna Reed.


This truss bridge in Seneca Falls resembles the famous bridge in the film when George Bailey meets Clarence.

Although Frank Capra had been in Seneca Falls in the early 1940’s, he said that Bedford Falls was a collection of small towns.




I came across this lovely picture of H.B.Warner and his son in 1927.

H.B. Warner (1876 – 1958) was born in London.


Roscoe Karns (1891-1970) and his son Todd Karns (1921-2000) who played Harry Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Roscoe  Karns had a long career as a character actor in Hollywood , and Roscoe and Todd appeared together in the TV series, ROCKY KING, DETECTIVE (1950-1954) – with Roscoe as Rocky King. Must catch an episode on You Tube.


19 responses »

  1. This is a fantastic, WONDERFUL read, and I love the images too! ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ will always hold a special place in my heart, along with ALL the cast members in it! Thank you for this great feature on Bob Anderson (young George Bailey). He was such a wonderful actor, it’s too bad he didn’t do more, but he will always be loved as young George. He’s truly perfect as a younger version of Jimmy Stewart! ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ would not be the same without him!

    Also, love the info on Seneca Falls! Blessings, Net

  2. Dear Vienna,

    This is a great article! I love this movie. Bob Anderson was wonderful in it.

    By the way, I would like to invite you to join “The Second Annual Great Breening Blogathon.” This blogathon, which will be taking place on October 12-17, is a celebration of the Code, its Era, and its enforcer, Joseph I. Breen. We are using this blogathon to honor Joseph Breen on his 130th birthday, which would have been on October 14. However, we are extending the blogathon to October 17 to celebrate the second anniversary of PEPS, which was founded on October 17, 2016. You can participate by breening a film that is not from the Breen Era (1934-1954) or by analyzing a Code films. You can also discuss an aspect of the Code, its influence on Hollywood, or Mr. Breen itself. You can find out more and join here:

    I hope that you’ll be able to join! We could really use your talents.

    Yours Hopefully,

    Tiffany Brannan

  3. If Seneca Falls wants to promote tourism by claiming to be AN inspiration for Bedford Falls, that’s one thing, but to continue to lay claim to being “THE” singular inspiration despite the fact that Capra himself said Bedford Falls was basically a collage of several small towns is a little bit obnoxious. Capra grew up in east Los Angeles, then moved with his family after graduating high school to the small town of Sierra Madre, located on the other side of Pasadena. In Sierra Madre, Capra’s family tended to lemon groves. From there, he had a several mile commute to Cal Tech. Sierra Madre likely influenced the main boulevard as seen in the film.

  4. Many thanks for your contribution. We know that the fictional Bedford Falls was in fact a four acre site built at the RKO Encino ranch . It took two months to construct and included a 300 yard long Main Street and over 70 building fronts.
    I expect Capra and/or members of his production team scouted various locations before deciding what to build on the set.
    The RKO ranch was razed in 1954.
    At least we know that the swimming pool used in the dance scene is still standing – at the Beverly Hills High School. The unique gym floor was constructed to divide in the middle, to expose a pool for swimming events.
    It’s called the ‘swim gym’.

  5. Vienna, another really good write-up. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE(1946) has been my favorite Christmas movie since the first time I viewed it in 1971. The information on Bob Anderson is very interesting. He gave a really good performance as the young George Bailey.

    I liked the photograph of young Bob Anderson from RUTHLESS(1948) and the one of Raymond Burr from the same movie.

  6. Oh my goodness! I’ve seen Bob Anderson pop up in a number of films and my sister and I always just called him the “boy from a Wonderful Life”. I never knew his name or that he was related to Gene Anderson. That’s amazing that HB Warner actually bloodied his ear. It’s a good thing he didn’t damage his hearing after hitting him that hard!

  7. It’s so interesting that you wrote this because I just saw It’s a Wonderful Life for the first time (I know, I know – shameful!) and I was really impressed with this child actor. In fact, I had wondered if he went on to make more films because he didn’t seem familiar. Thanks for the well deserved post for this young man. He was really quite impressive especially the scene where the druggist is hitting him in the ear.

  8. Glad to hear you’ve now seen this lovely film. Such a fine performance by Bob Anderson.Yes, that scene in the drugstore was so well done.

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