OSWEGO – On Wednesday, December 11, at 10 a.m. Jimmy Hawkins, who started acting at the age of two and played “Tommy Bailey” in It’s a Wonderful Life, will visit Oswego as part of his research as one of the producers of a major motion picture on Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, the only woman to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Coming to the area for the annual Seneca Falls It’s a Wonderful Life Festival, Hawkins feels it is important to take the opportunity to visit Oswego, talk with local historians, and see first-hand the personal belongings of Dr. Mary Walker that are located in the Richardson-Bates Museum, including her Medal of Honor, her medical bag, her top hat and her boots.
Two years ago, Hawkins worked with Lloyd J. Schwartz to ensure that Schwartz’s one-woman play on Dr. Walker, entitled Independence: The True Story of Dr. Mary Walker starring Kathie Barnes, held its world premiere in Seneca Falls.
In September it was announced that David Permut, the Oscar-nominated producer of Hacksaw Ridge, the story of World War II conscientious objector Desmond T. Doss would team with Walden Media and Hawkins on the feature film about Dr. Walker.
Hawkins and Permut worked together previously on Love Leads the Way, which had the distinction of being the first Disney Channel Original film.
Rosalind Ross will adapt the screenplay from the book A Woman of Honor: Dr. Mary E. Walker and the Civil War written by Mercedes Graf.
The stage play Independence: The True Story of Dr. Mary Walker written by Lloyd J. Schwartz was also acquired for the project.
Dateline.com reported on September 17, 2019: “The project follows Walker’s journey during the Civil War as she struggled to be accepted and compensated in the same manner as her male counterparts in the medical field and ultimately became the first and only female recipient to receive the Congressional Medal Of Honor. Even after receiving her medical degree at Syracuse Medical College, Walker was considered unfit for the Union Army Examining Board and initially was only allowed to serve voluntarily as a surgeon.”
David Permut commented to Dateline.com: “Dr. Walker’s arduous journey to be recognized as an equal in her field of medicine, let alone be allowed to practice, and her pioneering fight for equality is historic, cinematic and certainly prescient . . . I’m extremely proud in bringing a forgotten hero’s inspirational story to the screen with Walden [Media], Rosey, and Jimmy.”
In January 1944, Jimmy Hawkins’ mother, Bette, carried him onto the MGM lot to appear in The Seventh Cross with Spencer Tracy. In the 1940s, Jimmy portrayed the son of some of Hollywood’s most popular stars including Jimmy Stewart, Katherine Hepburn, Greer Garson, Lana Turner and Jessica Tandy.
However, he is best known for his roles as “Tommy Bailey” in It’s a Wonderful Life, Tagg Oakley in the Annie Oakley Series, as a regular on The Donna Reed Show, and two movies with Elvis Presley.
Hawkins has been producing films since he was in his twenties.
He will appear in Seneca Falls from December 13-15 with three other actors from It’s a Wonderful Life: Karolyn Grimes (“Zuzu Bailey”), Carol Coombs (“Janie Bailey”) and Jeanine Roose (“Young Violet Bick).
For more information see www.wonderfullifemuseum.com.