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DiMaggio movie ready for release
Concern for kids
led legend to take cameo role
in ‘The First
of May’
  Image: DiMaggio, Byrd
Joe DiMaggio and co-star Dan Byrd take a break during the filming of 'The First of May' last year in DeLand, Fla.
By Gian Trotta
Dec. 11 —  As Joe DiMaggio slipped into a coma Thursday night, producers in New York previewed “The First of May,” a small-budget, independent movie in which the Yankee great makes a cameo appearance to encourage a struggling orphan.

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  THE FILM, PRODUCED by SHO Entertainment and filmed last year in Florida’s Volusia County, recounts the friendship between foster child Cory (played by Dan Byrd) and Carlotta (Julie Harris), an elderly nursing-home resident. 
       DiMaggio’s appearance comes early in the film as a despondent Cory sits alone in a downpour following a poor performance in a Little League game. (Sharp-eyed viewers will recognize the field as Conrad Park, the former spring-training site of the Boston Red Sox in DeLand, Fla.)
       “Rained out?” asks DiMaggio.
       “Struck out,” replies Cory, who doesn’t recognize the Yankee great.
       DiMaggio, modestly noting that “I had brothers who played baseball,” tells young Cory about another orphan — Babe Ruth — who struck out more than 1,000 times but managed to become “the greatest player of all time” by hitting 714 home runs between the strikeouts. He ends by encouraging the boy to “keep your eye on the ball and swing through the shoulders.” 

Kids’ hospital reflects DiMaggio’s support
       “Joe got it right in just three takes,” said screenwriter Gary Rogers. 
       “He probably did better than most professional actors would have in that situation,” said director Paul Sirmons, who added that DiMaggio waived all payment for his performance — accepting only the $285 daily minimum mandated by the Screen Actors’ Guild.
       DiMaggio had not appeared in a feature film since “Angels in the Outfield” 46 years ago.
       Sirmons said DiMaggio agreed to do the film (whose credits include an appeal to “Consider Adoption”) because of his long history of working on behalf of disadvantaged kids, especially his work with the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Fla.
       SHO Entertainment is seeking a distributor for the movie. Sirmons, however, played down the role DiMaggio’s illness would lend the film’s publicity efforts.
       “I’d rather have him live a long time,” he noted. “He was just great to work with.”


Internet Sites 'The First of May' Web site

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