Tag Archives: Joe DiMaggio

Marilyn Monroe’s 90th Birthday

June 1, 2016 Would Have Been Marilyn Monroe’s 90th Birthday

10 Rare Photographs From Her Life

A simply stunning unadorned Marilyn Monroe at agent Johnny Hyde's home 1950 photograph: Earl Leaf

A simply stunning, unadorned Marilyn Monroe at agent Johnny Hyde’s home 1950 photograph: Earl Leaf

June 1 marks Marilyn Monroe’s 90th birthday. We have pondered this before: what would an elderly Marilyn Monroe have been like? Reclusive and mentally ill like her mother was? Elder stateswoman of the movies and spokesperson for women’s rights? It’s all conjecture, there’s obviously no clear answer.

Marilyn Monroe at age 11 when she was just Norma Jeane Baker

Marilyn Monroe at age 11 when she was just Norma Jeane Baker

As much as Marilyn accomplished, her life was unfulfilled. No babies, no aging to segue into nuanced character roles in films, no Broadway or television career, no venturing into social activism on issues that would have concerned her.

When Marilyn died at the age of 36 in 1962, she became immortalized in ways that probably would have amused her. The movie goddess is still forever young, and has become an icon of many things: the 1950s; glamor; gay rights; womanhood and sex to name a few.

As time passes and the people who actually knew her pass away, Marilyn becomes more of a figurehead of a time rather than a once living flesh and blood person. Authors are drawn to Marilyn and have made her the subject of hundreds of books and millions of words analyzing her without knowing her.

Marilyn Monroe in a publicity photo for Hometown Story a rarely seen 1950 film which includes Alan Hale Jr. (yes, the Skipper from Gilligan's Island!)

Marilyn Monroe in a publicity photo for Hometown Story a rarely seen 1951 film which includes Donald Crisp, Jeffrey Lynn and Alan Hale Jr. (yes, the Skipper from Gilligan’s Island!)

This literary interest in every aspect of Marilyn’s life was not displayed when she was alive. Only six books were written about her during her lifetime. True, there were the articles in magazines that gave superficial glimpses into her life. But Marilyn and the publicity machine that surrounded her obfuscated much of who she really was.

Marilyn Monroe in a parka 1951 photograph: JR Eyerman

Marilyn Monroe in a parka 1951 photograph: JR Eyerman

Continue reading

The Strikeout: The Rise and Acceptance of Baseball’s Unproductive Out

Hitters Never Used To Strikeout Like This

Chris Carter does what he does best: strikes out. photo: Houston Chronicle

Chris Carter does what he does best: strikes out. photo: Houston Chronicle

We are not even at the end of June and yesterday I read that the Astros Chris Carter had struck out 102 times so far this season. Carter is batting .198 with 13 home runs. The Astros as a team have struck out 728 times.

Those statistics are appalling and yet no one in baseball circles talks about it. Had they been playing thirty or more years ago players like Chris Carter, Mark Reynolds and the recently retired Adam Dunn most likely would not have been on a major league roster. Hitting thirty or more home runs, and batting .220 or under and striking out around one third of your plate appearances would have insured that you would not be around the big leagues very long.

But those days are over. Apparently there is no shame in striking out consistently if you can hit a few homers. Many teams apparently covet these one dimensional players and give them big contracts if they can hit some dingers.

The 1935 starting infield of the Detroit Tigers from left to right Charlie Gehringer, Billy Rogell, Hank Greenberg and Marv Owen. They combined for 173 strikeouts.

1935 starting infield of the Detroit Tigers (l to r) Charlie Gehringer, Billy Rogell, Hank Greenberg & Marv Owen. They combined for 173 of the team’s 453 strikeouts.

Contrast today’s strikeout numbers with baseball’s glory days and the statistics are startling. For instance, the 1935 Detroit Tigers hitters had 453 strikeouts in total.

Almost every starting player on the team had more walks than strikeouts.

Even the Tigers pitchers only struck out a combined 84 times in 549 plate appearances.

Tigers 1935 stats via baseball-reference.com Hank Greenberg led the team with 91 strikeouts, while hitting 36 home runs and driving in an astounding 168 runs. Hall of Fame catcher Mickey Cochrane batted .319 and struck out a total of only 15 times. Continue reading

An Interview With Avery Corman “My Old Neighborhood Remembered A Memoir”

Avery Corman, Author of Kramer vs. Kramer, Talks About His Latest Book: My Old Neighborhood Remembered A Memoir

My Old Neighborhood RememberedThe neighborhood is the Bronx. The time is World War II and the post war years. And the writer is Avery Corman. His newest book My Old Neighborhood Remembered A Memoir (2014) Barricade Books, is his first non-fiction book and is filled with wonderful recollections of growing up.

After graduating college Corman was working on the fringes of advertising and with the encouragement of a friend, Herb Gardner (A Thousand Clowns; I’m Not Rappaport; etc), he took a stab at writing a book. That effort was published as Oh God! A Novel (1971). After that hurdle Corman never looked back and he became a full-time novelist. Oh God! was eventually made into a very popular movie in 1977 starring George Burns and John Denver.

Some of Corman’s other acclaimed novels include The Bust-Out King (1977), The Old Neighborhood (1980); 50 (1987); Prized Possessions (1991); The Boyfriend from Hell (2006) and his most famous work, Kramer vs. Kramer (1977) which was adapted into a movie in 1979 and was the winner of five Academy Awards including Best Picture.

Avery Corman’s success must partially stem from his middle-class upbringing in the Fordham section of the Bronx during the 1940’s and 50’s, where he admits he was not the best student when it came to math and science, but did well in the humanities and was surrounded by a loving, extended family.

My Old Neighborhood Remembered A Memoir is more a series of vignettes rather than a straight autobiography and that style comes off well. Corman shares his memories of childhood during World War II up until he becomes a successful author in the late 1960’s. He paints beautiful word pictures, sometimes tinged with sadness, of growing up in a wondrous place that no longer exists. Most of the stories offer short bursts of family life, games, food, education, sports and all the things that contributed to making the Bronx a special place to grow up in.

Corman’s stories resonate with a tender glow of friendships, family and the feeling that neighborhoods were once really neighborhoods, where the familiarity of rituals, people and places were ingrained in the surroundings.

Here are parts one and two of an exclusive interview with Avery Corman.

Part I, Avery Corman talks about what made the Bronx a special place during the war. His unique living situation and school life.

In part II Corman Continue reading

1949 Yankees All-Stars – DiMaggio, Berra, Henrich, Reynolds & Raschi

New York Yankees All-Stars Of Yesteryear

Vic Raschi Tommy Henrich Joe DiMaggio Allie Reynolds Yogi Berra Yanks All Stars July 6 1949 photo © Acme

In 2014, the struggling New York Yankees have three players that were named to the All-Star team: Derek Jeter, Dellin Betances and Masahiro Tanaka, who will not play because of an elbow injury.

In 1949 the Yankees had five players play on the All-Star team. Seen in this photo from left to right are Vic Raschi, Tommy Henrich, Joe DiMaggio, Allie Reynolds and Yogi Berra.

There were 32,577 fans in attendance in what turned out to be a slugfest at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, as the American League topped the National League 11-7. Joe DiMaggio drove in three runs and Vic Raschi pitched three scoreless innings to get the save.

1956 – Joe DiMaggio And Hollywood Stars Attend A Charity Ball

Fundraiser For Boys Towns Of Italy Draws Top Celebrities 1956

Elsa Maxwell Cleo Moore Joe DiMaggio Linda Darnell Shirley Jones 1956 3 22

The woman seated is Elsa Maxwell, a gossip columnist who was famous for hosting parties featuring royalty, the wealthy and movie personalities. Standing from left to right are stars Cleo Moore, Joe DiMaggio, Linda Darnell and Shirley Jones.  At the event, DiMaggio, crowned Shirley Jones queen of the Boys Towns of Italy.

Called the “Ball Of The Year,” the benefit was held on March 22, 1956 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The support for Boys Towns of Italy came primarily from American contributions. The organization was founded in 1945 at the end of World War II to help war refugee children.

At the time DiMaggio was rumored to be dating Cleo Moore, a look-alike to his ex-wife, Marilyn Monroe. Moore was groomed by Columbia Pictures to be their answer to   Monroe, but her career never took off and she retired from films in 1957 at the age of 33. Moore died in 1973, three days before her 49th birthday of a heart attack.

The Greatest TV Game Show Ever

What’s My Line 1950 – 1967

Whats-My-Line-Cast-Dorothy-Kilgallen-death-November-8-1965 cr

A few years ago my Tivo was tuned into the Game Show Network weeknights at 3:00 a.m., taping every episode of the greatest TV game show ever made, What’s My Line.

Let me state it was not just a great game show, but one of the best television shows ever.

Unfortunately the series is not being broadcast now, but many segments of the show are available on Youtube.

To describe the brilliance of the show better than I ever could, we will refer to The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows 1948 – Present by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh (Ballantine 1988), an indispensable television reference book.

What’s My Line was the longest-running game show in the history of prime-time network television. It ran for 18 seasons, on alternate weeks from February to September 1950, then every Sunday at 10:30 p.m. for the next 17 years. The format was exceedingly simple. Contestants were asked simple yes-or-no questions by the panel members, who tried to determine what interesting or unusual occupation the contestant had. Each time the contestant could answer no to a question, he got $5, and a total of 10 no’s ended the game. The panel was forced to don blindfolds for the “mystery guest,” a celebrity who tried to avoid identification by disguising his voice.

That little game, by itself, hardly warranted an 18-year run, when other panel shows of the early 1950’s came and went every month. But What’s My Line was something special, both for the witty and engaging panel, and for a certain élan which few other shows ever captured. There were no flashy celebrities-of-the-moment or empty-headed pretty faces on this panel; they were obviously very intelligent people all, out to have some genteel fun with an amusing parlor game. Like (moderator) John Daly with his bow tie and perfect manners, it reeked of urbanity [“that’s three down and seven to go, Mr. Cerf?”]

The panelists who created this special atmosphere were an elite group. Continue reading

Joe DiMaggio’s Comeback 1949

The Yankee Clipper Gets Ready To Return To Play – June 21, 1949

Many who saw Joe DiMaggio play say he was the greatest all-around ballplayer who ever lived. Everything he did seemed effortless. Of course this is a huge exaggeration. Everything DiMaggio did so well required practice, patience and hard work.

When DiMaggio missed the first three months of the 1949 baseball season with a painful heel injury, many fans, players and sportswriters thought he might never play again.

So it was hush-hush when DiMaggio went to an empty Yankee Stadium to test out his heel in a full workout on June 21, 1949.

Things went well and DiMaggio returned to the Yankee line-up on June 28, 1949 at Fenway Park against the Red Sox to start a three game series. He hit a homerun in the first game which the Yankees won by a score of 5-4. The Yankees swept the series and when DiMaggio left Boston, he had hit four homeruns and driven in nine runs.

The impact of his return cannot be understated. In the 76 games DiMaggio played for the remainder of the year, he batted .346, hit 14 homeruns and drove in 67 runs. His on base percentage was the highest of his career, .459. In 329 plate appearances he struck out only 18 times.

The Yankees ended up edging the Red Sox by one game in the final season standings, propelling the Yankees into the World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers.

DiMaggio would go on to have the worst World Series performance in his storied career, batting just .111. But the Yankees still defeated the Dodgers four games to one, starting their stretch of winning five World Championships in a row.

Classic Hollywood #13

Candid Photographs of Marilyn Monroe

Instead of the typical movie publicity or glamor photographs of Marilyn Monroe, we thought we’d highlight three photographs that show Marilyn in a bit of a different light.

Betty Grable and her How To Marry A Millionaire (1953) co-star Marilyn Monroe emerge from a Hollywood restaurant. Grable who was 20th Century Fox’s blond bombshell for most of the 1940’s was being “replaced” by Monroe. Grable was relieved as she was getting tired of fighting with Daryl F. Zanuck, Fox’s studio chief. Supposedly she told Marilyn privately, “Honey, I’ve had my time in the spotlight, now it’s your turn!”

Marilyn takes a break and kneels on the steps of a brownstone while filming Billy Wilder’s The Seven Year Itch (1955).  A portion of the film was shot on location in New York City. The brownstone where the lead character, Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell) lives with Marilyn subletting the apartment above him, is located at 164 East 61st Street. The building is still there, though somewhat modified.

Marilyn Monroe with a very dour looking Joe DiMaggio in Florida in 1961. Monroe was visiting DiMaggio, who was a special instructor to the New York Yankees during spring training. After their nine month marriage ended in divorce in 1954, the couple remained friends and got closer as the years passed. There were rumors that Monroe and DiMaggio were contemplating remarrying one another when Monroe passed away in 1962.