Frank Russell Capra was a Sicilian-born American film director and a creative force behind a number of films of the 1930s and 1940s, including It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Lost Horizon, You Can’t Take It With You, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Meet John Doe, Arsenic and Old Lace and It’s a Wonderful Life. Born as Frank Rosario Capra in Bisacquino, Sicily, he immigrated to the United States in 1903 with his parents, Turiddu Capra and Rosaria and his siblings Giuseppa, Giuseppe, and Antonia.
In California the family met with Benedetto Capra and settled in Los Angeles. Frank Capra attended Manual Arts High School there. In 1918, he graduated from Throop Institute with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering.
During World War I, Capra enlisted in the United States Army on October 18, 1918. He taught ballistics and mathematics to artillerymen at Fort Winfield Scott in the Presidio of San Francisco. While there, he caught Spanish flu and was medically discharged with the rank of second lieutenant on December 13, 1918. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1920 as Frank Russell Capra.