Bob Anderson, 75, who played the young George Bailey in the 1946 Christmas classic

It's a Wonderful Life

, died Friday of cancer at his home in Palm Springs, Calif.

Robert J. Anderson grew up in a Hollywood family. His father, Gene, was an assistant director and later a production manager. His uncles were directors William Beaudine and James Flood, and his brothers and cousins were editors and production managers.

Mr. Anderson was introduced to film when relatives arranged for him to appear in a movie scene that called for a baby, his wife said.

He was 7 years old when he appeared in the 1940 Shirley Temple film

Young People

and went on to play roles in such films as 1945's

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

.

But he was best known for his role as the young Bailey in Frank Capra's

It's a Wonderful Life

, the same character portrayed as an adult by James Stewart.

Mr. Anderson enlisted in the Navy during the Korean War, serving as a photographer on aircraft carriers, his wife, Victoria, said yesterday.

After the war, he spent four decades in the movie industry. From the 1950s through the 1990s he worked steadily, rising from second assistant director to production manager for movies and TV shows.

- Associated Press