A&E's Joe DiMaggio profile a hit

MEDIA MONITOR

July 16, 1991|By Steve McKerrow

It's a good thing that Joe DiMaggio used to get seasick on boats. Otherwise, he might have followed his immigrant father's career as a commercial fisherman and not become one of America's most durable heroes.

The tidbit about Joltin' Joe's motion sickness is revealed in the latest edition of the Arts & Entertainment series "Biography." Although hardly breaking new ground, "Joe DiMaggio -- The Way It Was" (at 8 p.m. on the basic cable service, with a midnight repeat) is a nice and concise profile of one of baseball's greatest players.

Did you see DiMaggio being honored with Ted Williams at the All-Star Game? It was clear from the ovation received (at Toronto's Skydome) that his appeal is still high.

"There haven't been many American heroes like him," says narrator/host Peter Graves.

Interestingly, however, we learn that DiMaggio was once frequently booed in the early weeks of the 1938 season. For in those post-Depression years, fans did not appreciate his holding out for more money in his third season. Ultimately, he humbly took the New York Yankees offer of a then-generous $25,000 salary.

In one of several interviews with DiMaggio included in the show, he reflects ruefully that things have changed in the present big salary era, when players "seem to get whatever they ask for."

Viewers may find themselves wondering what might have happened had DiMaggio not been signed by the dominating Yankees and had played instead, for a non-contending team, like the great Ernie Banks of the hapless Cubs.

For from his first season in the "bigs" in 1937, DiMag' was often in the spotlight in World Series after World Series. Yet his accomplishments still shine, especially the consecutive game hit record of 91 safeties in 56 games in 1941. (Only Pete Rose has come remotely close, with his 44-game streak in 1978).

And everybody also remembers DiMaggio's brief marriage to movie star Marilyn Monroe. Tonight's "Biography" is poignant regarding that episode, noting that even after their celebrated divorce, Monroe and DiMaggio remained friends, and that her death hit him hard. DiMaggio himself, however, does not address the subject in interview clips.

THE BOTTOM LINE -- Will there be yet another movie followin"Star Trek 6 -- The Undiscovered Country," due release by Paramount in December this year?

Actor Michael Dorn, who plays Worf on the series "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and is also in the new movie, told fans at the Shore Leave 13 convention here over the weekend, "it's pretty much going to be an accounting decision."

THE NEXT BEST THING? -- Pop singer Whitney Houston may be in town just tonight (at the Merriweather Post Pavilion), but she is also July's featured artist on the VH-1 cable video network, popping up multiple times daily in interview vignettes.

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