EmptyFrank Capra Jr., the son of the famous Hollywood director who rose through the ranks to become a movie producer and for the past decade was president of EUE Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington, N.C., died Dec. 19 of prostate cancer in a hospital in Philadelphia. He was 73.
In a Hollywood career that began as a second assistant director on such TV series as "Dennis the Menace" and "The Rifleman," Capra became an associate producer on such films as "Play It Again, Sam," "Marooned" and three "Planet of the Apes" outings.
He then produced such films as "Billy Jack Goes to Washington," "Born Again" and "An Eye for an Eye." From 1981-82, he was president and CEO of Avco Embassy Pictures.
Frank Morgan, a jazz saxophonist who made a comeback in the 1980s after his promising career was derailed in the 1950s by the consequences of heroin addiction, died Dec. 14 of colon cancer in Minneapolis. He was 73.
Morgan was one of the rising stars of the Central Avenue jazz scene when he was barely out of his teens. He worked with Lionel Hampton and recorded with drummer Kenny Clarke and others.
He started playing alto saxophone at a young age after hearing Charlie Parker, one of the architects of bebop who also was a victim of heroin addiction. "I thought that one used heroin to play like Charlie Parker played," he told an interviewer in 1986.
By the time Morgan recorded his first album in 1955, he already had spent time in prison. He did not record another album as a leader until 1985.
That album, "Easy Living," the first of seven he recorded for the California jazz label Contemporary, earned laudatory reviews and relaunched his career. Morgan became a leading figure in the jazz revival of the late '80s. He worked regularly and recorded prolifically during the next decade for the Contemporary, Antilles and Telarc labels.
Jack Linkletter, a television personality whose father was Art Linkletter, died Dec. 18 of lymphoma at his home in Cloverdale, Calif. He was 70.
Jack Linkletter followed his father into broadcasting, hosting such TV shows as "Here's Hollywood," "America Alive!" and "Hootenanny." He also hosted the Miss Universe pageant, World's Fair events and major parades.
He had an early introduction to broadcasting. As a child, he inspired one of his father's most remembered "House Party" skits: Kids Say the Darndest Things.
That one started when Jack came home from his first day in kindergarten and told his father he wasn't going back. Asked why not, he replied, "Because I can't read, I can't write and they won't let me talk."
Jillian Kesner-Graver, who played Fonzie's girlfriend Lorraine on "Happy Days" and with her late husband, director-cinematographer Gary Graver, worked to preserve the legacy of Orson Welles, died unexpectedly Dec. 5 at an Irvine, Calif., hospital of a staph infection. She was 58.
Kesner-Graver had been helping piece together footage her husband shot in the 1970s for Welles' unfinished feature "The Other Side of the Wind." The couple had hoped to complete and eventually release it.
In addition to her "Happy Days" role, Kesner-Graver appeared in a number of low-budget films, including "Starhops," "Raw Force," "Jaded" and "Firecracker," playing a martial arts fighter in the latter. She appeared on TV in "The Rockford Files," "Mork & Mindy," "Three's Company" and other shows.