Frank Capra's son, Tom: A "boss" to Paul Douglas and me, circa 1983.
- Blog Post by: Barry ZeVan
- December 3, 2012 - 6:40 PM
A Christmas film classic of which I never tire seeing is Frank Capra's “IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE”. Perhaps you have the same feelings.
I met the film's primary star, Jimmy Stewart, while filming Art Linkletter and his family learning how to ski at Sun Valley, Idaho, in 1963. During the filming, Stewart and his wife showed up on a very wet porch of the Sun Valley Lodge (where we were filming) to say hello to Art and his family, and complained about the equally miserable weather they'd just experienced in Aspen, hoping to find better conditions at "The Valley". Regardless, it was fun to meet him briefly, get his autograph and continue filming the Linkletters for a segment that would air on Art's CBS-TV HOUSE PARTY show later that season. Sorry for the digression, but it was a fun memory involving the IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE" star (who was born in Indiana, Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is also the home state of both Paul Douglas and yours truly, Paul from Lancaster, yours truly from Pittsburgh.)(The film of my interview with the Linkletters can be seen on the Internet via TCMediaNow, embedded in a reel called SOME SIDES OF BARRY ZeVAN, and kindly placed there by TCMediaNow's Tom Oszman, and filmed before we filmed the Linketters skiing lessons begin, under the wing of instructor Sigi Engl, a legend in the ski industry. Art makes good-natured fun of me as the weatherman when he asks for better weather. I said "We'll try". He responded, as you'll see, if you watch, with "That's the weatherman for you. We'll try.", followed by a grin.) (In those days, and even today, small market stations needed people to be jacks of all trades, thus in addition to the five years of weathercasting in Idaho Falls ((1960-65)), I was also a talk show host, producer, booth announcer and control room director. They saved a lot of money, but it was a great "boot camp" for being able to field almost anything in broadcasting and television in later years.)
Back to "IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE"(FINALLY! SORRY!): In 1982-83, both Paul Douglas and I worked with (and one might say for, since he was one of our Producers) one of Frank Capra's sons, i.e., Tom Capra, at the Satellite News Channels (ABC-TV's answer to CNN) on Shippan Point, just east of Stamford, Connecticut. I had previously met Tom Capra during my Washington, D.C., weathercasting days with the ABC-TV affiliate there, WJLA-TV, Channel 7, before Paul and I worked together with him. When I met Tom in D.C. the first time, Tom had just joined ABC-TV as a news producer.We met a couple times during that period (1974-77), and he was always a cordial and class-act, certainly mirroring his famous father's reputation. A few years later,in 1982-83, after I'd moved to Detroit (in 1978) to do the weathercasts there on weekdays, I was also hired to do weekend weathercasts on the aforementioned Satellite News Channels, flying back and forth from Detroit to New York every weekend (for three months), then taking the train from New York to Stamford and the SNC studios. Paul Douglas was doing the weathercasts there long before I arrived, but that's how he and I first met and I've enjoyed the honor and pleasure of his friendship ever since.
Tom Capra was indeed one of Paul's and my Producers, along with another fellow whose last name might also be familiar to you: He was Stephen Bogart, the son of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. I think because of their famous family histories, both were almost always somewhat shy when engaging in any conversations with us at SNC, but definitely not stand-offish. I’ve heard both are now out of the TV news business, with Tom now living in Palm Desert, California.
Again, and always, it was fun to see “IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE” this past Saturday night on NBC-TV, fondly remembering one of Frank Capra's two sons was one of Paul Douglas and my bosses (at the same time ) almost 30 years ago. Thanks for allowing me to share some fond memories, once again. I've been very blessed, to say the least.
If you feel so inclined, please also take a look at my SENIOR MOMENT webcasts at www.startribune.com/video. Thanks, again, for taking the time to read these "geezer" reminiscenses.
© 2014 Star Tribune