01 of 17
George Bailey's Family Photo
Every Christmas Eve, Illinois resident Richard Goodson gathers around the television with his wife and children and watches the classic holiday movie 'It’s a Wonderful Life.' The 1946 film is an inspiration, and an escape, for Goodson. When he watches 'It’s a Wonderful Life,' he is able to appreciate where he is in his own life. And that makes the man feel good.
Twenty years ago, Goodson started to collect vintage 'It’s a Wonderful Life' memorabilia and autographs. He now owns thousands of collectibles from the film. The movie has also fueled a desire to share his collection with others. He said the film, and the memories it evokes, has a powerful effect on people.
“No matter who you deal with, the movie touched somebody,” Goodson said. “It gives people an opportunity to exchange…to talk. It gives you a feeling that everything is alright. And that’s a good thing.”
The Value of a Collection
The first collectible Goodson obtained was an 8 x 10 black and white photograph of the Bailey family signed by Jimmy Stewart, who played George Bailey in the film.
It was given to him by his wife, Coleen. That gift has now multiplied into close to thousands of related items. Goodson has received pieces from all over the world.
“Everyone that touched the movie, I have something of,” he said. “Autographs, stills, Christmas cards, scripts, financial documents—you have to be in it for the hunt.” Godson’s celebrity memorabilia collection is, no doubt, one of the largest of its kind in the world.
Value, however, has nothing to do with why Goodson collects 'It’s a Wonderful Life' memorabilia. He simply likes the movie’s message. “George Bailey had a dream of being an architect and to travel…of receiving the accolades that go with that,” Goodson said. “And he had all of those things all along. The reality was how many lives he touched and how he was important. It’s about appreciating where you are.”
Highlights of the Collection
Ask Goodson what his favorite 'It’s a Wonderful Life' collectible is and the answer is easy. He has a strong affinity for an album page signed by Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed (Mary Hatch Bailey), Lionel Barrymore (Mr. Potter), Thomas Mitchell (Uncle Billy), Henry Travers (Clarence), Beula Bondi (Ma Bailey), Frank Faylen (Ernie Bishop), Ward Bond (Officer Bert), Gloria Grahme (Violet Bick), and H.B. Warner (Mr. Emil Gower). The page is also one of the more valuable items Goodson owns.
“You just never see [those names] together,” he said. “You just know that had to be in all of their hands at one time.” Goodson also said he likes the nearly 400 original movie stills he has acquired over the past two decades.
Christmas ornaments autographed by Karolyn Grimes (Zuzu Bailey) hold a special place in his heart as well. He often gives them away as gifts. In fact, Grimes and Goodson have been friends for years. The actress said she rarely meets collectors with such an honest love for the film.
“There are a lot of collectors out there, and I have seen a lot of collections,” Grimes said. “But Richard practices a love for the film, and I haven’t seen others practice that love. He is kind of a George Bailey in real life. He is just a wonderful person.”
Though unsure of what he ultimately intends to do with his collection, Goodson has let others use his items for fundraising and literary projects. He just wants to keep the movie’s message alive.
“I just want to see where it goes,” he said. “I could never sell [the collection], but I would love for it to benefit someone. It really needs to be pushed back into the community somehow.”Continue to 2 of 17 below.
02 of 17
Autographed Photo of Henry Travers
Clarence was George Bailey's guardian angel in the film.Continue to 3 of 17 below.
03 of 17
A Sampling of 'It's a Wonderful Life' Memorabilia
Original photographs and autographs from some of the stars of 'It's a Wonderful Life.'Continue to 4 of 17 below.
04 of 17
Program From Screening of 'It's a Wonderful Life'Continue to 5 of 17 below.
05 of 17
Photograph of George Bailey and ZuZuContinue to 6 of 17 below.
06 of 17
Richard Goodson's Collection CatalogedContinue to 7 of 17 below.
07 of 17
Autographed Photo of Frank CapraContinue to 8 of 17 below.
08 of 17
Collector Richard Goodson and His DaughterContinue to 9 of 17 below.
09 of 17
Carol Coombs Autographed PhotoContinue to 10 of 17 below.
10 of 17
George Lasso's the Moon Catch Phrase from 'It's a Wonderful Life'Continue to 11 of 17 below.
11 of 17
Original 'It's a Wonderful Life' Film ReelsContinue to 12 of 17 below.
12 of 17
Autographed Photo of Zuzu Bailey from 'It's a Wonderful Life'Continue to 13 of 17 below.
13 of 17
Autographs from the Stars and DirectorContinue to 14 of 17 below.
14 of 17
Interesting Letter From Frank Capra Regarding DialogueContinue to 15 of 17 below.
15 of 17
Cast Photo With a Number of AutographsContinue to 16 of 17 below.
16 of 17
'Modern Maturity' Magazine Cover of Donna Reed and James StewartContinue to 17 of 17 below.
17 of 17