Christmas Specials Wiki
Christmas Specials Wiki

It Happened One Christmas is a 1977 made-for-TV movie. It is a remake of the classic film It's a Wonderful Life, notable for the role reversal and surname change of the two main characters. Marlo Thomas stars as Mary Bailey, who, in contrast to the original film, is the main character rather than husband George Hatch, played here by Wayne Rogers. In another departure from the original film, the male angel Clarence Odbody is now a female one named Clara Odbody, played by Cloris Leachman. The part of the villainous Mr. Potter was played by film legend Orson Welles.


  • The film is mentioned a couple of times on Mystery Science Theater 3000. In one Christmas episode, the Bots are disappointed when Joel promises to show It's a Wonderful Life and other Christmas films, only to reveal that they are all non-classic remake versions like this one, where Marlo Thomas is mentioned by name.
    • In another episode, Joel cites the tendency of Wayne Rogers, who played George in the film, to be the substitute whenever a TV remake of a film occurs, including replacing Elliot Gould in M*A*S*H, Walter Matthau in House Calls, and Donna Reed in this one, the last of which confuses the Bots to no end, to which Joel then says that he'll explain another time.
  • The film was the final title under Daisy Productions, Marlo Thomas' own production company.


Actor/actress Character
Marlo Thomas Mary Bailey Hatch (adult)
Orson Welles Henry F. Potter
Wayne Rogers George Hatch
Cloris Leachman Clara
Barney Martin Uncle Willie
Karen Carlson Violet
Dick O'Neill Mr. Gower
Doris Roberts Ma Bailey
Richard Dysart Peter Bailey
Cliff Norton Martini
Archie Hahn Ernie
Christopher Guest Harry Bailey
Gene Conforti Sassini
Morgan Upton Bert
Robert Emhardt Judge
Ceil Cabot Cousin Tillie
Bryan O'Byrne Doctor
Rita George Helen Bailey
Dan Barrows Toll Keeper
Med Flory Nick
James E. Brodhead Bank Examiner
Charles Grodin (voice) Joseph
Bob Harks Townsman
David Hollander Petey Bailey
Jim Lovelett Sam Wainwright
Linda Lee Lyons Zuzu Hatch
Walter O. Miles Man at Party
Lynn Woodlock Mary Bailey Hatch (age 12)

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