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The Devastating Death Of Virginia Patton

Virginia Patton Moss, 97, the last surviving adult member of the cast of "It's a Wonderful Life," died on August 18 at the assisted living facility she called home in Albany, Georgia (via The Hollywood Reporter). In the 1946 film, Patton played Ruth Dakin Bailey, wife to Harry Bailey (Todd Karns) wife and sister-in-law to George Bailey (James Stewart), whom she meets along with Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell) for the first time at the train station. This development results in a change of plan for George — because Ruth's father has offered Harry a better job elsewhere, George can't hand the family business off to him and leave Bedford Falls.

Patton was 20 years old when she filmed the famous Frank Capra Christmas movie that always makes us cry (via Patch). In 2012, she spoke highly of her experience making the movie, which she said brought her to tears after seeing it for the first time in a while. "When you were on the set, you knew your lines, you knew your business," she told Patch. "It was a camaraderie, but it was a business. It was a wonderful atmosphere that some other directors didn't produce." Patton retired from acting in 1949, just four movies after "It's a Wonderful Life," in order to start a family with automotive executive Cruse W. Moss, with whom she had three children.

She decided not to keep acting, despite being 'the only girl [Frank Capra] ever signed'

Virginia Patton was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1925, but was raised in Portland, Oregon, and moved to Los Angeles, California, after graduating from high school to pursue acting. She signed with Warner Bros., and her appearances included minor, often uncredited roles in movies like the musical "Thank Your Lucky Stars" in 1943, "Janie" in 1944, "The Horn Blows at Midnight" in 1945, and "Canyon Passage" in 1946.

Patton also starred in a play as a freshman at the University of Southern California — a project written by Cecil B. DeMille's brother, William C. DeMille. This brought her to director Frank Capra's attention. "I read for him, and he signed me," she told the National Catholic Register in 2013. "I was the only girl he ever signed in his whole career."  She was also the only actor in the production who wasn't on loan from another studio since her contract with Warner Bros. had lapsed.

After she left Hollywood, she kept in touch with Capra, who had asked her to reconsider her move. However, she never returned to on-screen work. Instead, she served as president and director of an investment and real estate holding company called the Patton Corporation. She was also a docent at the University of Michigan's Museum of Art and was involved with other local organizations over the course of her long life.

"That isn't what I wanted," she told Patch about acting. "I wanted exactly what I am. Ann Arbor, Michigan, a wonderful husband, wonderful children, [and] a good part of the community. I work hard for the community."