In Memoriam

HRAYR TOUKHANIAN (December 21, 1931 – August 15, 2023)

His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan, Prelate, and the Religious and Executive Councils have learned with sorrow of the passing of Hrayr Toukhanian, who passed away at the age of 91 on Tuesday, August 15, in Royal Oak, Michigan. 

A lifelong resident of Michigan, Hrayr Toukhanian was most renowned for his film Assignment Berlin (1982), the first feature film devoted to the story of Soghomon Tehlirian and the liquidation of Talaat Pasha, architect of the Armenian Genocide. 

Hrayr Toukhanian was born in Beirut on December 21, 1931. He completed his high school education at the Nshan Palanjian Jemaran, from where he graduated in 1952 and had Levon Shant and Simon Vratzian as principals. He arrived in 1955 in the United States, where he followed postgraduate studies in audiovisual leadership at Syracuse University from 1955 to 1956. He married his wife Sona in 1956 and they moved to San Francisco from 1958 to 1960, where he met Tehlirian (who passed away in 1960).   

In 1960 he moved to Detroit, where he founded Muse Productions, becoming a director and producer of videos and TV commercials. He had to his credit over a thousand productions and thirty-four awards, including the gold medal award of the New York International Film Festival for the documentary production “Heart of a Nation.” Toukhanian filmed Assignment Berlin almost entirely in Detroit and was recognized in 1982 by then Governor William Milliken with an Executive Declaration of the Michigan Film and Television Services Council. 

The film script was by the late Sona Toukhanian, and the central roles of the movie were played by character actor Val Avery (Sebouh Der Abrahamian, 1924-2009) and Eddie Mekka (Edward Mekjian, 1952-2021) of Laverne and Shirley fame. A familiar face is that of actor, director, and playwright Dr. Herand Markarian from New York, who played the role of Johannes Lepsius. You can watch the film here