Todd Karns

Roscoe Todd Karns (January 15, 1921 – February 5, 2000) was an American actor.[1] He is perhaps best remembered for playing George Bailey's younger brother, Harry Bailey, in the 1946 film It's a Wonderful Life.

Todd Karns
Todd Karns.jpg
Karns in his film debut
Andy Hardy's Private Secretary (1941)
Roscoe Todd Karns

(1921-01-19)January 19, 1921
Hollywood, California, U.S.
DiedFebruary 5, 2000(2000-02-05) (aged 79)
Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico
Resting placeAjijic Cemetery
Years active1941–1956
Spouse(s)Katherine Karns, m. 1944-2000 (his death)

Early lifeEdit

Karns was the son of the well-known character actor Roscoe Karns and his wife Mary Fraso. He initially planned to have a career as a newspaper reporter, but participation in a little theater production changed his mind, turning him toward acting.[2]


Karns started his film career in 1941 as Harry Land in two Andy Hardy movies with Mickey Rooney, but shortly after that, his beginning film career was interrupted by the Second World War, where Karns served in the Army Air Corps. When he returned to Hollywood, Karnes portrayed his signature role as Harry Bailey in Frank Capra's Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life (1946).

He often had minor film roles, such as in Good Sam (1948) and The Caine Mutiny (1954).


Karns played Jackson Jones in Jackson and Jill (1949–1953), the first weekly situation comedy for television.[3] He also appeared with his father Roscoe in the criminal series Rocky King, Detective (1950–1954), playing Sergeant Hart.[4] He retired from film and television in the mid-1950s.

Later yearsEdit

Karns and his wife Katherine with their three children moved to Mexico near Guadalajara where they opened the English-language venue, Lakeside Little Theater in 1971. There Karns produced and directed plays for the next three decades, until his death from cancer at age 79.[5]


In addition to acting, Karns also made numerous paintings.[6] He began painting in January 1948 and went on to sell his works to individuals and to businesses. A newspaper reporter wrote, "His style is strictly his own and bears no resemblance to anything ever heard in an art class or put in a book."[7]


Karns died of cancer in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico on February 5, 2000 at age 79.[8] His wife and children had his private family interment in Ajijic's cemetery.[citation needed]

Partial filmographyEdit


  1. ^ Wilson, Scott (August 19, 2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons (3d ed.). McFarland. p. 392. ISBN 978-1-4766-2599-7.
  2. ^ "Local Theatre Attractions". Santa Cruz Sentinel. March 9, 1941. p. 10. Retrieved December 18, 2016 – via
  3. ^ Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010. McFarland & Company. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7. Retrieved December 24, 2020.
  4. ^ Terrace 2011, p. 905.
  5. ^ "Todd Karns, 79, Who Played Brother in 'It's a Wonderful Life'". The New York Times. February 20, 2000.
  6. ^ "Todd Karns (Harry Bailey) – Artist". It's a Wonderful Life Museum.
  7. ^ Keavy, Hubbard (March 13, 1949). "'Anybody Can Paint – Todd's Record Reveals". The Decatur Herald. Associated Press. p. 8. Retrieved December 17, 2016 – via
  8. ^ Lentz, Harris M., III (June 1, 2001). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2000: Film, Television, Radio, Theatre, Dance, Music, Cartoons and Pop Culture. McFarland. p. 123. ISBN 978-0-7864-1024-8. Retrieved December 18, 2016.

External linksEdit