The program chronicles the making of the Red Grange Statue
Nov. 18, 2009
CHICAGO, Ill. - Thanksgiving tradition for many Americans includes watching football. There is no bigger football figure from the University of Illinois and few in the history of the game than Harold "Red" Grange. The "Galloping Ghost" scored six touchdowns in a victory over Michigan in the Memorial Stadium Dedication Game in 1924 and is largely responsible for the emergence of the National Football League as a legitimate pastime in this country. This Thanksgiving the Big Ten Network pays tribute to Grange as "Larger Than Life: The Red Grange Story" debuts on the network.
The 60-minute program, produced by Alison Davis Wood and Tim Hartin, chronicles the life of Grange while intertwining the making of the Red Grange Statue, the larger than life figure now permanently on display on the west side of Memorial Stadium. Wood and Hartin spent four days with sculptor George Lundeen as he put the finishing touches on the statue in July, in Lakewood, Colo.
"George learned a lot of his craft at the University of Illinois when he came to study with Frank Gallo," noted Wood. "He specializes in these figures of famous people. The details that he had for the helmet, the football, the uniform and the shoes were just amazing."
Included are historical footage and interviews as the story of Grange's heroics on the gridiron, and his emergence as a legend of the game are told. Viewers will also discover Lundeen's passion for sculpting famous people and how he studies each figure intently. On Grange, he strived to capture a moment on the field, for as Lundeen says "he was really fast and played a great game of football."
Lundeen, who completed his master's degree at the University of Illinois, spent time reading about Grange and studying photographs to find just the right likeness. The 12-foot bronze statue began as 40-50 pieces and completed at a Colorado foundry. It was sand blasted and the pieces welded together before it was colored with glaze. Lundeen then drove the statue across the plains to Champaign, where it was dedicated on Sept. 11 of this year.
"Larger than Life: The Red Grange Story" airs Thanksgiving Day (November 26) at 9 a.m., 3 p.m. and 1 a.m. CT; Monday December 7 at 10 p.m. CT; and Thursday, December 17 at 9 a.m., 3 p.m. and 1 a.m. CT.