Frank Capra

Film Director
Born May 18, 1897

Frank Russell Capra was a Sicilian-born American film director. He emigrated to the U.S. when he was six, and eventually became a creative force behind major award-winning films during the 1930s and 1940s. His rags-to-riches story, having worked his way through college, has led film historians like Ian Freer to consider Capra the "American dream personified. " Capra became one of America's most powerful directors during the 1930s, winning three Oscars as Best Director.… Read More

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Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Frank Capra.


1897 Birth Born on May 18, 1897.
1903 6 Years Old In 1903, when he was five, Capra emigrated to the United States with his family, who traveled in the steerage section of the boat, which was the cheapest way to gain passage. … Read More


1920 23 Years Old …  He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1920, taking the name Frank Russell Capra. … Read More
1923 26 Years Old Capra married actress Helen Howell in 1923; they divorced in 1928. … Read More


1927 30 Years Old …  When he saw Al Jolson singing in The Jazz Singer in 1927, considered the first talkie, Capra recalled his reaction:
1929 32 Years Old 1 More Event
Few of the studio heads or crew were aware of Capra's engineering background until he began directing The Younger Generation in 1929. … Read More
1936 39 Years Old …  On May 5, 1936, Capra hosted the 8th Academy Awards ceremony. … Read More


1938 41 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1938, Capra won his third Director Oscar in five years for You Can't Take It with You, which also won Best Picture.
1941 44 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1941 Capra directed Meet John Doe (1941), considered by some to be Capra's most controversial movie. … Read More
1943 46 Years Old …  As a colonel, he received the Legion of Merit in 1943 and the Distinguished Service Medal in 1945. … Read More


1950 53 Years Old Capra remained employable in Hollywood during and after the HUAC hearings, but chose nonetheless to demonstrate his loyalty by attempting to re-enlist in the Army at the outbreak of the Korean War, in 1950. … Read More
1952 55 Years Old 1 More Event
By 1952, at the age of 55, Capra effectively retired from Hollywood filmmaking and spent his later years working with Caltech, his alma mater, to produce educational films on science topics. … Read More


1959 62 Years Old William Wyler also matched this record upon winning his third Oscar in 1959. … Read More
1962 65 Years Old Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty, by vote of the city council, declared May 12, 1962 as "Frank Capra Day." … Read More
1964 67 Years Old Capra's final film, Rendezvous in Space (1964), was an industrial film made for the Martin Marietta Company and shown at the 1964 New York World's Fair. … Read More
1982 85 Years Old 10th annual AFI Life Achievement Award ceremony, 1982 … Read More
1985 88 Years Old In 1985, at age 88, Capra suffered one of a series of strokes.
1991 94 Years Old 1 More Event
During the golden age of Hollywood, Capra's "fantasies of goodwill" made him one of the two or three most famous and successful directors in the world. Film historian Ian Freer notes that at the time of his death in 1991, his legacy remained intact: … Read More
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