Virginia Patton Moss, the last surviving adult cast member of It's a Wonderful Life, died on Thursday of natural causes. She was 97.

Born on June 25, 1925, in Cleveland, Ohio, Moss studied acting at the University of Southern California and made her film debut in the 1943 musical Thank Your Lucky Stars. She is best remembered for her role in 1946's It's a Wonderful Life, director Frank Capra's holiday classic about a desperate man (James Stewart) who wishes he was never born, so an angel is sent to show him what life would have been life if he had never existed.

Moss played Ruth Dakin, the wife of Harry Bailey (Todd Karns) and sister-in-law of Stewart's George Bailey. The film was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor for Stewart.


The actress would go on to star in the 1947 crime drama The Burning Cross and the 1948 Western Black Eagle before making her final film appearance in 1949's The Lucky Stiff. At the age of 24, she retired from Hollywood, married automotive executive Cruse Moss, and moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan.

"I couldn't see me doing that for my life," Moss said in a 2012 interview with Patch of why she quit acting. "That isn't what I wanted. I wanted exactly what I am. A wonderful husband, wonderful children, a good part of the community. I work hard for the community... I have a beautiful letter that [Capra] wrote me because I kept in touch with him, and he said, 'I just knew you'd be a wonderful mother with three little bambinos and a wonderful husband.'"

Moss is survived by her two children, seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren.


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