Lake coach’s daughter co-writer
Licavolis, local gangsters featured in ‘Holy Toledo’
Charissa Gracyk has the blonde hair and good looks to be in front of a Hollywood movie camera, but that’s not her style. “Only behind the camera for me,” says Gracyk, 40, the older of Lake girls’ basketball coach Jim Gracyk’s two children. Charissa aspires to make it in the City of Angels – lord knows she’s been trying – as a screenwriter, producer or director – and now she’s getting her shot. “I admire her perseverance,” Jim says, “She has written some really awesome scripts. You just have to crack the nut one time, come up with something. She’s written horror flicks, chick flicks – she wrote a novel about pirates. She’s done a knock out job of trying to do it the right way, but I think out there you got to have blood in the game, some relative somewhere, in order to really make things happen. It’s a tough business to crack.”
After graduating from UT in 1996, Gracyk and her cousin, Gillian Perdeau, moved to Boston in 2002 and stayed there almost six years. Gracyk immersed herself into writing at ultimately met screenwriter Mike Cerrone.
“Mike wrote ‘Me, Myself and Irene’ and works with the Farrelly brothers (Peter and Bobby),” Gracyk says. “We got to meet them. Peter said, ‘If you’re excited about writing, you’re on the wrong coast.’ He put that through to us to move West, and so we did. We moved to Encino in 2002.” Gracyk says she and Perdeau have been writing screenplays since 1997.
Gracyk and Perdeau have written a movie “short” entitled “Holy Toledo,” a story about the interaction between 1930s Toledo bootlegger Jack Kennedy Sr. and the Yonnie Licavoli gang. Gracyk is directing the short and soon hopes to turn it into a full-blown Hollywood movie.
Family ties One of the characters in the short, Lake coach’s daughter co-writer Licavolis, local gangsters featured in ‘Holy Toledo’ William Wallace, is an uncle of Gracyk’s mother, Tina. “Growing up, our family talked about all these stories about our family and how they were involved with the Kennedys and Licavolis,” Gracyk says. “When we started writing, my grandma (Mary Hoffman) and great aunt (Eleanor Cymbolin) said, ‘This is the stuff you need to be writing about.’ They talked about my great uncle Will. He stored liquor for both sides, the Licavoli gang and for Jack Kennedy. The Licavoli gang found out, so they wanted to teach Will a lesson. Jack and the Licavoli gang were rivals. “They kidnapped Will’s girlfriend (Kitty) and held her for ransom. We made a short fi lm about all of that.” The 17-minute short introduces viewers to prohibition-era Toledo involving the Kennedy and Licavoli gangs. Gracyk says her ultimate goal is to “come to Toledo and film Jack Kennedy’s story for a feature.”
“We have it written,” she says, “It’s a two-hour movie and we plan to come to Toledo and film the entire thing on location. We need to get the word out and getinvestors and get people excited about what we’re doing. We wanted do a short and have a premier to let everyone know our next step, and then do a feature about Jack Kennedy and Licavoli and what happened. Kennedy was gunned down in Point Place in 1933.” Gracyk says her research on Toledo bootleggers and the Kennedy and Licavoli gangs included reading two books by local author Ken Dickson as well as old newspaper articles. “Holy Toledo” will be shown to thepublic Tues. Jul. 15 at the historic Ohio Theatre, located at 3114 Lagrange St. in the Polish International Village. There is no cost to attend, and any donations will he given to the Ohio Theatre Restoration Fund. “I’m real excited to film the feature in Toledo,” Gracyk says. “We had a lot of gang stuff going on here, comparable to Al Capone in Chicago. It’s kind of an untouched subject.”