Are you having a “Wonderfdul Life”? The legendary American film director Frank Russell Capra certainly did.

Mr. Capra, born on May 18, 1897 in Bisacquino, Sicily, Italy, was not only a director. He was a producer and writer. As film historian Ian Freer rightfully pointed out in his book “Movie Makers: 50 Iconic Directors from Chaplin to the Coen Brothers,” Mr. Capra life story is the “American dream personified.”

Frank Capra (1897–1991)

I grew up watching the films the Italian director was responsible for bringing to the big silver screen. There is no denying Mr. Capra made a significant contribution to this business that which we call show.

Films such as “It Happened One Night” (1934), “You Can’t Take It With You” (1938), and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (1939) were magnificently crafted. For his efforts as producer, Mr. Capra was nominated as Best Director and as producer for Academy Award for Best Picture on all three of these films.

Not wanting to shy away from the call-to-duty, during the Second World War, Mr. Capra served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps and produced propaganda films. The talented director worked on the “Why We Fight” series.

Even though films such as “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946) was a flop when it was released, history shows the production is now seen as a cult classic.

Away from the director’s chair, Mr. Capra served as President of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, worked alongside the Screenwriters Guild, and was head of the Directors Guild of America.

During his career, Mr. Capra was not only nominated six times for Best Director, he also saw seven nominations for Outstanding Production/Best Picture. Mr. Capra was an extraordinary talent.

In 1985, at age 88, Mr. Capra suffered one of a series of strokes. The director died in La Quinta, California, of a heart attack in his sleep in 1991 at the age of 94.