4. Fred Gailey, The Always-Believing Father
I have a feeling that Fred Gailey will be considered the most unexpected pick of the lot. Fred is the always-believing and saintly lawyer from Miracle on 34th Street. He’s not the first person you think of when you picture this movie and he isn’t even a dad. However, Mr. Gailey is actually the most vital piece in the puzzle of this classic Christmas film. Fred lives next door to Doris Walker and her daughter Susan. Doris rejects Christmas, hope, miracles, and the belief in true goodness. She raises her daughter to believe the same. Yet she allows Fred, who believes passionately about all those things, to often watch her daughter. He becomes a surrogate father to little Susan, whose absent birth dad never appears.
When no one else believes, Fred hopes that a sweet man named Kris Kringle is the true Santa Claus. He helps Susan believe and he encourages her to use her imagination and hope. Fred even gets blunt with Doris’ lack of faith when he has to:
Look, Doris, someday you’re going to find that your way of facing this realistic world just doesn’t work. And when you do, don’t overlook those lovely intangibles. You’ll discover those are the only things that are worthwhile.
In the end, Fred proves Kris is Santa and sparks renewed belief in Doris and Susan. We learn Fred will marry Doris and become Susan’s new father.
There are a lot of unsung heroic men who fill a parental role to kids who desperately need it. There are guys who are lifting up hurting families when no one else will believe. There are true gentlemen who become like fathers to kids who so desperately need a dad to encourage them to hope and dream. Fred Gailey was one of those men.