Home Entertainment Virginia Patton, last ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ star, dead at 97

Virginia Patton, last ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ star, dead at 97

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Virginia Patton, the last surviving adult actor on “The Good Life,” died Thursday at the age of 97.The actress’ death is confirmed in a Facebook post Starring co-star and former child actress Karolyn Grimes.

“We have one more angel! Virginia Barton Moss. She is 97 years old,” Grimes wrote. “She’s with her beloved Cruise now. She’ll be missed!”

Born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1925 and raised in Portland, Oregon, Patton is best known for starring in Frank Capra’s classic 1946 holiday film It’s a Wonderful Life. She played Ruth Dakin Bailey, sister-in-law of James Stewart’s protagonist George Bailey.

Virginia Patton as Ruth Dakin Bailey and James Stewart as George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946).
CBS via Getty Images
Patton retired in 1949.  Virginia Patton, last ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ star, dead at 97 Virginia Patton 14
Patton retired in 1949.
Courtesy Everett Collection
Patton signed with Warner Bros. in 1943.  Virginia Patton, last ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ star, dead at 97 Virginia Patton 16
Patton signed with Warner Bros. in 1943.
Courtesy Everett Collection

“Virginia is the only girl who signed Frank Capra directly,” Moss’ husband, Cruise W. Moss, claimed in 2012 of his wife’s casting in the film, Variety Report. “Everyone else in that movie was borrowed from another studio.”

He added, “But Ginny wasn’t in the studio and Frank Capra actually signed her for that photo.”

Patton, the niece of legendary World War II general George Patton, would go on to star in four more films, 1947’s Burning Cross and 1948’s Black Hawk, before retiring in 1949. In his final role, Patton appeared in the 1949 comedy “Lucky Stiff” alongside Dorothy Lamour, Brian Donleavy and Claire Trevor.

From left: Julie Bishop, Lynn Baggett, Virginia Patton and Andrea King"hollywood canteen" (1944).  Virginia Patton, last ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ star, dead at 97 Virginia Patton 13
From left: Julie Bishop, Lynn Baggett, Virginia Patton and Andrea King at the Hollywood Cafeteria in 1944.
Courtesy Everett Collection
Todd Kearns, Virginia Patton, James Stewart and Thomas Mitchell "life is wonderful" (1946).  Virginia Patton, last ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ star, dead at 97 Virginia Patton 11
Todd Kearns, Virginia Barton, James Stewart and Thomas Mitchell in “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946).
"In 2012, Moss said while discussing her decision to quit show business.  Virginia Patton, last ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ star, dead at 97 Virginia Patton 15
“I don’t see me doing this for my life,” Moss said in 2012 when discussing her decision to quit show business.
Courtesy Everett Collection

That same year, Patton married Cruise W. Moss and moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where Moss began a career as a businesswoman and raised three children. The couple remained married until Cruise’s death in 2018.

‘I don’t see how I’ve been doing this my whole life,’ Moss told local news outlet Patch in 2012 While discussing her decision to quit show business. “I want exactly who I am. Ann Arbor, Michigan, a wonderful husband, wonderful children, a valued member of the community. I work hard for the community.”

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