The Seneca Falls It’s a Wonderful Life Museum was opened on December 10, 2010. The Museum is located in a portion of what was the first movie theater in town, the Seneca Theater. The theater was built in 1913 by Charles Fornesi, the first Italian to immigrate to Seneca Falls.
The Museum started with one display case, 20 items from the personal collection of Karolyn Grimes (“Zuzu Bailey”) and a wall of quotes from Frank Capra that focus on his philosophy of the value of each individual. Over the years, items from the personal collection of Richard Goodson have been added to the display, including original call sheets containing the doodles of Jack Okey, Art Director for It’s a Wonderful Life, the original program from the premiere of the film at the Globe Theater in New York City, and the earrings worn by Violet Bick in the film.
On display is a certificate presented to Frank Capra by Governor Mario Cuomo on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty, donated to the Museum by Frank Capra’s son, Tom.
Items from the personal collections of Carol Coombs (“Janie Bailey”) and Jimmy Hawkins (“Tommy Bailey”) are also on display.
Donna Reed’s daughter, Mary Owen, has provided information about Donna Reed’s efforts to promote better roles for women and peace.
Photographs from the collection of Emile Kuri, Set Director for It’s a Wonderful Life, are also on display.
The Museum illustrates why local residents have long believed that Seneca Falls was the inspiration for Bedford Falls, including information on Antonio Varacalli, whose true story might well be the inspiration for important scenes in the film.