Bob Anderson, who billed as "Bobbie Anderson" played George Bailey as a boy in the holiday classic It's a Wonderful Life, passed on Friday, June 6, at the age of 75. The cause was melanoma.
Anderson was born Robert J. Anderson on March 6, 1933 to a family deeply involved in the film industry. His father was Gene Anderson, an assistant director who worked on such films as Penny Serenade and the 1943 serial Batman. His uncle was the prolific director William Bodine, who directed movies from 1915's Diana of the Farm to 1966's Billy the Kid Versus Dracula and TV shows from 1954's Treasury Men in Action to 1966's Green Hornet. Bobby Anderson first appeared on the big screen at the age of 7, in the movie Maryland in 1940. His first role of any importance was in the Shirley Temple vehicle Young People that same year.
Anderson would go onto small parts in movies such as The Officer and the Lady, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and Gentleman Joe Palooka before being cast in the role for which he would become best known, that of the young George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life. He would go onto parts in The Bishop's Wife, Silver River, Samson and Delilah, and A Place in the Sun. He appeared on the The Further Adventures of Spin and Marty in the supporting role of Terry Moore.
Anderson served a stint in the U.S. Navy, then went onto become an assistant director, production manager, and producer.
As an actor Robert J. Anderson did not have a long career. And his only role of any importance would seem to have been laying young George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life. That having been said, in appearing in a major part in that film, he secured his place in film history and pop culture. That Anderson was a very talented actor can be seen in his performance as young George. In many films which feature flashbacks to an individual's childhood, it is often hard to believe that the actor playing the character as a child could have possibly grown into the actor playing the character as an adult. Not so with Anderson's peformance as young George. He does such a good job that we willingly believe he will grow up to be the George Bailey that Jimmy Stewart plays as an adult. And this despite the fact that the two really didn't resemble each other that much! Robert J. Anderson may not have had a long acting career, but he certainly did leave a legacy in film.