Virginia Patton, who portrayed Ruth Dakin Bailey, sister-in-law of Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey in the Frank Capra holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life, has died. She was 97 years old.

Matthews Funeral Home announced that Patton died Thursday at an assisted living facility in Albany, Georgia.

Patton’s character is married to Harry Bailey (Todd Carnes) in the 1946 film, and her big scene takes place at the Bedford Falls train station, when she first meets George and Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell).

When crew members were lighting her scene—filmed at the now-defunct Lamanda Park station of the Santa Fe Railroad in Pasadena—with her stand-in, she was thinking that she was wearing white gloves as she sipped on her buttered popcorn. How are you going to eat?

“I dressed as a young matron. I had a hat, a suit, and white gloves on, I was visiting my new in-laws,” she recalled in 2016. “And I was going to eat buttered popcorn with the white gloves on?

“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 just sitting there, ‘What am I going to do? I’m going to bring popcorn on all the gloves.’

Virginia Ann Patton was born in Cleveland on June 25, 1925. He was raised in Portland, Oregon, where he graduated from Jefferson High School in 1942, then made his way to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.

He signed with Warner Bros., made his film debut in the musical Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943), which featured Eddie Cantor and an all-star cast, and made minor appearances in other films including Jenny (1944), Hollywood Canteen (1944). appeared in roles. ) and Jack Benny’s The Horn Blows at Midnight (1945).

A niece of World War II General George Patton, she married Cecil B. de Mille’s brother William C. De Mille while she was attending USC, and it put her on Capra’s radar. He was casting It’s a Wonderful Life, the first film he would make for his new Liberty Films production company.

“I read for her, and she signed me,” she said in 2013, “that she was the only girl she ever signed in her entire career.” Her contract at Warner had expired, and all other adult artists would work on loan from other studios.

Since It’s a Wonderful Life aired several times each year around Christmas for decades, Patton often jokes that “I’ve probably been in even more homes than Santa Claus.”

Patton played the female lead in The Burning Cross (1947), a film about the Ku Klux Klan, and Black Eagle (1948), a western, then retired from acting after a supporting turn in The Lucky Stiff (1949). Happened.

In 1949 automotive executive Cruz W. After marrying Moss, she left Hollywood and moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan and had three children. They had been married for 69 years till his death in 2018.

Patton served as the president and director of the University of Michigan Art Museum and Patton Corp., an investment and real estate holding company.

In a 2012 interview, Patton mentioned that Capra made her think twice about leaving show business, but she said she was comfortable with her decision.

“I have a beautiful letter that [Capra] wrote to me because I kept in touch with him,” she said. “He wrote, ‘I just knew you would be an amazing mom with three little bambinos and an amazing husband.

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