Today, the 5th of March, is the birthday of my favorite ‘angel’ Clarance Odbody, George Bailey’s less than grand guardian angel in It’s a Wonderful Life.
The actor who played Cllarence, Henry Travers, was born on March 5th, 1874. – Wow, that’s a long time ago.
Director Frank Capra’s Classic film is of course best known for playing every year at Christmas time. Made in 1946, It’s a Wonderful Life is my number one all time favorite movie. Two other movies that happen to be on my list of top ten (click here) favorites, When Harry Met Sally and The Princess Bride, were both directed by Rob Reiner. And in an AFI special on Turner Classic Movies Reiner mentioned that It’s a Wonderful Life is his favorite film as well. I must say he has good taste.
Not only is Jimmy Stewart an amazing lead in It’s a Wonderful Life, but the film has a terrific group of supporting players, not the least of which is Henry Travers.
Stewart’s George Bailey is the ‘hero’ of the story, but Clarence the angel is a hero of a different type.
George is a self-confident visionary with big dreams, who ends up always making choices based on what’s best for those around him.
Clarence is a simple, innocent, below-the-radar kind of hero. He’s the kind of hero that gets no recognition, his heroism is something we seldom notice. It’s the childlike faith, the anticipation of good, and desire to see others succeed that makes him a hero on a humbler scale.
I never get tired of watching the film. Every time, as the movie ends, a smile spreads across my face. It’s always a joy filled, fulfilling and inspiring experience.
One of the best lines in the movie is spoken by Clarence, and it sums up what the film is all about, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives, and when he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
Most people may not recognize the name Henry Travers, but they cannot forget Clarence, one of the most delightful characters in the history of the movies.
Happy Birthday Henry. And thank you for giving us Clarance!