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Suggestions for the Classroom

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"Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life" offers a unique perspective on many themes covered in the study of American history, including immigration, race relations, politics, media, World War II, literature, and the cult of the hero. You can either use part or all of the film with your class or delve into the rich resources available on this Web site to supplement your classroom activities.

Running Time: 1.5hrs
Taping Rights: Educators can tape the film off the air and use it for one year after broadcast.

Before Viewing

  1. Discuss with your class what it means to be a hero for that individual: How is a hero’s life different from that of the average person? How is it similar? What are the pluses? What are the pressures? Would students choose the hero’s life? Why or why not?

After Viewing

  1. One observer commented about Joe DiMaggio, "people used to pile around him like he was God Almighty--it was Joe DiMaggio, and that was it." Discuss with students what made Joe DiMaggio a hero. What did the public see in him? How did watching him--whether starring in baseball or nightclubbing with the glamorous--make his audience feel? Why did people believe in him? What role did he play for them? Did he ever let them down? What responsibility, if any, did he have to them? Do students believe Joe DiMaggio was a hero?

  2. What did heroism do for Joe DiMaggio? Do students think he lived a satisfying life? In what ways was he happy? In what ways was he unhappy? What legacy did he leave?

  3. Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak in 1941 cheered the nation, diverting attention from the war in Europe. Ask students to research other forms of entertainment Americans used as distractions from the heartache of war, such as radio and film. Have them consider the following: Why did such entertainment make people feel better? What themes did this entertainment focus on? How close were these themes to reality? How is entertainment today similar? Different?

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