Frank Rusell Capra, born on 18th May, 1897, was an Italian-American director and producer.He was born in Sicily, near Palermo. He was the youngest of his seven siblings. His father was a fruit grower, and his family was Catholic. When he was a 5-year old, he along with his family, migrated to the United States in a boat. The journey was very hectic, and he recalled it throughout his life as one of the worst experiences. The family settled in Chinatown, and there he sold newspapers and helped his father to earn a livelihood. After graduating from high school, he enrolled in a college, which was against the will of his family. He graduated with a degree in chemical engineering from California Institute of Technology. He worked hard to pay his fees. Some of his jobs included working as a waiter, playing at night clubs, cleaning engines, and working at the laundry.
After graduating from college, he was appointed in the U.S Army, where he also taught mathematics. In spite of being the only degree holder in his family, yet he was the only one who remained unemployed and for this, he went into severe depression, which later led to major health issues. Capra directed a film shot in the new movie studio in Los Angeles and cast it thereby impressing the studio’s founder. During his early career, he worked as a property man, film cutter, and writer. Capra wrote scripts for ‘Our Gang’, a series. He also wrote scripts for comedian ‘Harry Langdon’.
Capra adapted to the new sound technology faster due to his education as an engineer, and this helped him in making his directing career successful. One of Capra’s films which received immense success is ‘It Happened One Night’. It Happened One Night earned Capra five Oscars.During the time of the attack on the Pearl Harbor, he quit his career as director and joined the U.S Army.After the end of the 2nd World War, Capra founded the Liberty Films. It’s a Wonderful Life, completed by the studio was nominated for five Academy Awards. He represented U.S at the International Film Festival. He was the four time President of the Academy of Motion Arts and Science. Capra had the spirit of American individualism within him.
Capra married ‘Helen Howell’ in 1923, but they later got separated in 1928. He then married ‘Lucille Warner’. Capra died in 1991, at an age of 94, after suffering from a series of strokes.