Father’s dying wish to make Granite City, IL, basketball movie

Creator Dan Manoyan died final 12 months, main many individuals to imagine that his e book on Granite Metropolis’s 1940 state championship basketball crew would by no means be made right into a film.

Enter Randall Manoyan, Dan’s son.

The 31-year-old legal professional traveled from Chicago to Granite Metropolis on Saturday to carry a neighborhood assembly and guarantee residents that he’s going to work to meet his father’s dream.

“It meant rather a lot to my dad, so it means rather a lot to me,” Randall Manoyan mentioned earlier this week.

Dan Manoyan was a longtime sportswriter who lived in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and retired from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He self-published the e book “Males of Granite” in 2007 and spent greater than 10 years speaking to producers, buyers and others about adapting it to the massive display.

At one level, a film-production crew even began hiring actors, however the mission fell by and ended up in court docket.

Dan Manoyan, 69, died of cardiac arrest on April 20, 2020. Randall mentioned the seriousness of his father’s coronary heart issues led Dan to deliver up the film’s destiny a number of weeks prior.

“I promised him that I might ensure this movie was made,” Randall Manoyan mentioned.

Dan Manoyan, left, a retired sportswriter and creator of the e book “Males of Granite,” and his son, Randall Manoyan, present their assist for the College of Illinois. Dan died final 12 months. Offered

Members of the 1940 Granite Metropolis state championship basketball crew included, prime row, Emil Mueller, John Markarian, Ed Hoff, Sam Mouradian, Everett Daniels, Ebbie Mueller and Harold Brown; and backside row, Byron Bozarth, Evon Parsaghian, Andy Phillip, Dan Eftimoff, Andy Hagopian, George Gages and Leonard Davis. Offered

Poverty and prejudice

The “Males of Granite” story revolves round 10 gamers on the Granite Metropolis Excessive College Warriors basketball crew in 1940, together with seven who had been sons of Jap European immigrants.

Their households had left Armenia, Yugoslavia, Macedonia and Hungary within the early 1900s to flee genocide and oppression. They moved to Granite Metropolis to work in metal mills and lived in a neighborhood known as “Lincoln Place,” dealing with excessive poverty and prejudice.

Dan Manoyan’s father additionally was an Armenian immigrant.

About 40 folks attended Saturday’s assembly and open home on the Granite Metropolis Sports activities Corridor of Fame. Many had ties to Lincoln Place.

“All people was very excited and constructive,” mentioned Conrad “Babe” Champion, 88, of Granite Metropolis. “All of them need (the film) to occur. They really feel it’s a great story, and it’s not only a basketball story. It’s in regards to the folks in Lincoln Place and the way these boys grew up.”

Champion is a retired well being and P.E. trainer and baseball coach who has been serving to to advertise the film thought for years and served as a liaison between Dan Manoyan and native residents.

Randall Manoyan, left, his mom, Christine, and retired trainer and coach Babe Champion showcase a plaque for the late Dan Manoyan, creator of “Males of Granite,” after a gathering Saturday on the Granite Metropolis Sports activities Corridor of Fame. Dale Allen

The Granite Metropolis Sports activities Corridor of Fame has a show honoring the Granite Metropolis Excessive College Warriors boys basketball crew that received the 1940 state championship. It was led by captain Andy Phillip. Dale Allen

Remembering Andy Phillip

Additionally at Saturday’s assembly was Bobby Galvan, a Mexican American who grew up in Lincoln Place within the 1950s and ‘60s.

Galvan performed soccer and different sports activities on the identical neighborhood middle the place the Jap Europeans on the 1940 basketball crew honed their expertise. Besides they needed to lease footwear by doing chores for supervisor Sophia Prather, a former trainer who taught English and fought bigotry.

“I bear in mind when Andy would come into city (in later years), and he’d go all the way down to Blubby’s or one of many bars, and we’d all sit round listening to him inform tales,” mentioned Galvan, 67, of Glen Carbon.

Galvan was talking of Hungarian Andy Phillip, the crew’s 6-foot-Three captain. He helped persuade Granite Metropolis Excessive College boys basketball coach Byron Bozarth to offer his associates from the “different aspect of the tracks” an opportunity to play.

Phillip received the state championship with fellow gamers John Markarian, Andy Hagopian, Evon Parsghian and Sam Mouradian.

After commencement, Phillip went on to play basketball at College of Illinois with a squad nicknamed the “Whiz Children.” He later served in World Warfare II and spent 11 years with the NBA, changing into a five-time All-Star and successful an NBA title with the Boston Celtics.

Regardless of the 1940 crew’s accomplishments, Galvan agrees with Champion that the “Males of Granite” story is about extra than simply basketball.

“It’s about these households coming right here from different nations and making an attempt to outlive,” Galvan mentioned. “… Folks in Lincoln Place took care of one another, they usually stored their traditions alive.”

Dan Manoyan was a longtime sportswriter who retired from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal. He additionally self-published the e book “Males of Granite” and tried to get it made right into a film earlier than his dying final 12 months. Offered

This poster with actors William Damage and Shirley MacLaine was created to assist construct pleasure for the “Males of Granite” film in 2015, however the manufacturing was halted earlier than filming began. Offered

Huge disappointment

Dan Manoyan thought a “Males of Granite” film was a certain factor in 2015 after Milwaukee philanthropist Albert “Ab” Nicholas, now deceased, invested $1.Three million in seed cash and a Los Angeles manufacturing firm began hiring actors.

Producers introduced that Academy Award winners William Damage and Shirley MacLaine had been forged as Bozarth and Prather underneath the course of Dwayne Johnson-Cochran.

“Then I received this name out of the clear blue sky, and (a producer) mentioned, ‘We’re out of cash,’” Dan Manoyan later instructed the BND. “I used to be like, ‘What?’ I assumed they had been every week away from filming. It was devastating.”

Dan Manoyan filed a civil lawsuit in Milwaukee County Circuit Court docket in 2017 towards producers with two California corporations. It alleged “fraudulent inducement, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, breach of fiduciary responsibility, conversion and civil theft.”

A decide later dominated in Dan Manoyan’s favor, based on son Randall, however one of many defendants filed an attraction, so the case remains to be pending.

By 2019, a film based mostly on “Males of Granite” was being “developed” by Armenian-American producer Arthur Sarkissian, who’s finest identified for the “Rush Hour” sequence, “Final Man Standing” and “The Foreigner.” However the movie by no means received made.

Randall Manoyan mentioned Saturday’s assembly confirmed him that Granite Metropolis residents take pleasure of their city and its historical past and they’re going to assist his efforts to get its inspirational 1940 story on the massive display.

“We’re simply getting began,” he mentioned. “However I needed to make it possible for the individuals who care about this story and have cared about it for a few years know that we’re severe about persevering with the mission and that my dad’s aim of creating it into a movie goes to be attained.”

Randall Manoyan, proper, and his mom, Christine Manoyan, be a part of retired trainer and coach Babe Champion to reply questions throughout a gathering Saturday on the Granite Metropolis Sports activities Corridor of Fame. Dale Allen

Individuals who attended a gathering Saturday on the Granite Metropolis Sports activities Corridor of Fame noticed a show honoring the late Dan Manoyan, who wrote the e book “Males of Granite” in 2007. Dale Allen

Associated tales from Belleville Information-Democrat

Teri Maddox has been a reporter for 36 years, becoming a member of the Belleville Information-Democrat in 1990. She additionally teaches journalism at St. Louis Group School at Forest Park. She holds levels from Southern Illinois College Carbondale and College of Wisconsin-Madison.

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