Wilmington Studio Head Frank Capra Jr. Dies
By MARTHA WAGGONER
Associated Press Writer
Frank Capra Jr., the son of "It's A Wonderful Life" director Frank Capra
who followed his father into the movie business and help build the largest
television and movie studio on the East Coast, has died. He was 73.
Capra Jr. died Wednesday night at a hospital in Philadelphia, said Bill
Vassar, the executive vice president of Wilmington-based EUE/Screen Gems
Studios, of which Capra was president. Vassar said Capra died following a
long fight with prostate cancer, which had spread over the past several
"With his Hollywood pedigree and extensive experience as a producer, Frank
was the perfect ambassador to Hollywood," Chris Cooney, chief operating
officer of EUE Screen Gems LTD, said in a statement. "He will be missed as
a friend and a colleague."
Under Capra's leadership, EUE/Screen Gems' credits include several major
motion pictures, including "28 Days," "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya
Sisterhood," "Domestic Disturbance," "Black Knight" and "A Walk to
He also was at the helm when "Dawson's Creek" - starring a then-unknown
Katie Holmes - filmed at the studios, and he kept all nine of the studio's
sound stages full in recent years between movies and the filming of another
successful teenage soap, "One Tree Hill."
"He brings a certain cachet to the studio that would not be there and
wasn't there before he came," said Bill Arnold, the former director of the
North Carolina Film Office, said in an interview earlier this year. "When
Frank came on, I think it assumed a larger profile just because of Frank's
Capra was one of three children of Frank Capra and Lucille Rayburn Warner
Capra, who tried to protect her children from the Hollywood life. Still, he
could tell stories about dinners with Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, and
said he was best friends with Gary Cooper's daughter Maria.
For the past several years, he screened his family's 35mm print of his
father's 1946 Christmas favorite at the University of North Carolina at
Wilmington. In an interview in the summer of 2007, Capra Jr. said his
father had no idea he was making the classic film, starring Jimmy Stewart,
Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore.
"I don't think any filmmaker knows that," he said. "He loved the idea of
the story. He fell in love with that idea of the story about a man who
could see the world the way it would have been had he never been born."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material
may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to the
Frank Capra, Jr. Film Studies Scholarship Fund, c/o Marla Rice Evans
at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, 601 South College Street,
Wilmington, NC 28403
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