Frank Russel Capra deserves a day just for giving us the phrase “Platinum Blonde.” This most American of early filmmakers was actually born Franceso Rosario Capra in Sicily on May 18, 1897, and at age 5 was brought to the country he would help define, earning him honors on a day that best describes his own life on
NATIONAL IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE DAY!
Capra’s best-known film, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” was a morality play about the power of the small man versus corporate oppression, opening to tepid reviews and remarks that his best years as a movie maker were behind him, but the movie struck a chord with movie goers all over the world and remains one the most optimistic and beloved films of all time.
He made his directorial debut in 1915 with “Our Wonderful Schools,” an educational documentary, a genre he would continually revisit during his long career. Capra entered the US Army during the First World War and became a naturalized US citizen in 1920.
He made the transition from Silent to sound movies effortlessly, and directed one classic movie after another until World War 2, when he went to work for the US War Department producing documentaries in support of the war effort.
“It’s a Wonderful Life” was made the year after the war, in 1946, and he would continue directing movies for another 15 years, winning an astounding 6 Academy Awards for Best Director along with dozens of other major awards.
Frank was also a political and social activist, a staunch union man who served as head of the Directors Guild of America, as well as serving as the President of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. His wonderful life lasted 94 years, during which this hard working immigrant left his indelible stamp on the country he so loved.
•Suggested Activities: Checking out Capra’s body of work listed below.