She gave up her career as an actor after a few films and became a businesswoman.
The final adult cast member of Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life, Virginia Patton Moss, passed away on August 18th in Albany, Georgia. She was 97 years old.
Patton portrayed Ruth Dakin Bailey, the sister-in-law of Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey, in the show, according to The Hollywood Reporter. She died at an assisted living facility, according to an announcement by the Mathews Funeral Home.
Karolyn Grimes, who worked with Moss on It’s a Wonderful Life as a child actor, shared a tribute to her costar on her personal Facebook page. “We have another angel! Virginia Patton Moss. She was 97 years old,” Grimes wrote. “She is now with her beloved Cruse. She will be missed!”
She was married to Todd Karns's character Harry Bailey in the 1946 movie, and her big scene happens when she first meets George and Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell) at the Bedford Falls train station, where she was supposed to be eating buttered popcorn while wearing white gloves. However, she kept wondering how to do that while wearing gloves.
“I was dressed as a young matron. I had a hat, a suit and white gloves, I was coming to meet my new in-laws,” she recalled in a speech in 2016. “And I was going to eat buttered popcorn with white gloves?"
“We rehearsed it, and Frank didn’t say anything about it, his assistant didn’t say anything about it, the cameraman didn’t say anything about it. I was sitting there, ‘What am I going to do? I’m going to get the popcorn all over those gloves.’ … I thought, ‘Well, I’ll just pretend everybody eats buttered popcorn with their gloves on, and they all get butter on them.'”
Moss was born on June 25, 1925, in Cleveland and was raised in Portland, Oregon. She moved to Los Angeles in 1942 to pursue a career in acting. While a student at the University of Southern California, she began her career as an actor, appearing in plays and supporting roles in films.
She then went on to sign with Warner Bros. and starred in small roles in subsequent movies like Janie (1944), Hollywood Canteen (1944), and Jack Benny's The Horn Blows at Midnight (1944) and made her film debut in 1943 musical Thank Your Lucky Stars with Eddie Cantor and an all-star cast (1945).
However, she gave up her career in Hollywood after marrying automotive businessman Cruse W. Moss in 1949 with whom she had three children. They remained married for 69 years until Cruse's death in 2018.
“I couldn’t see me doing that for my life,” Moss said in 2012, reflecting on her decision to leave acting behind, according to Variety. “I wanted exactly what I am. Ann Arbor, Michigan, a wonderful husband, wonderful children, a good part of the community. I work hard for the community.”
She became the president and director of the Patton Corp., an investment and real estate holding company and served as a docent at the University of Michigan’s Museum of Art.
Cover Image Source: Virginia Patton | IMDb