Aeros salutes ‘Roger Dorn,’ aka Corbin Bernsen

By Rich Heldenfels
Beacon Journal popular culture writer

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Local baseball fans don’t need much explanation of who Roger Dorn is. They might need to know why he’s in a snow globe.

The Aeros-Altoona Curve game Saturday at Canal Park will include a giveaway to the first 1,000 fans of a snow globe with the figure of Dorn, the fictional Indians third baseman played by Corbin Bernsen in the classic movie Major League and sequels. The actor-writer-director is an honorary Akronite thanks to his making the movies 25 Hill and 3 Day Test in the area. He will be at the game Saturday — and is the reason behind the globe.

In a recent email, Bernsen talked about his love of snow globes (or snow domes, as some are called), being Dorn, the after-effects of the death of his mother, the possible end of his current TV series — and, as always, his connection to Akron.

“The Aeros called me and asked if they could do a Roger Dorn day, maybe do a bobblehead or something like that and I said ‘how about a Snowdome’ as I have one of the largest collections in the world,” Bernsen said. “They jumped right on it and we designed the dome together.”

Bernsen began collecting the domes and globes while working on the TV series L.A. Law, where he played Arnie Becker.

“I would visit parts of the country and people would invariably greet me with a welcoming gift to their town or city.” he said. “Usually it was a T-shirt or hat [many of which I also still have] but sometimes they would present me with a snow globe from their city.”

By the time the series ended in 1994, he had about 20 “and only then did I realize that as a ‘collection’ they had a ‘pop art’ feel to them and weren’t just these kitsch one offs.” He began adding more, and estimates he has around 8,000; he’s working on exact count now because he needs to account for each one to get the collection insured.

“I keep them in a converted garage at my offices of Home Theater Films,” he said, referring to his production company. “It looks like a little museum — white walls, lighting and even one of those benches in the middle to ‘reflect.’ My best domes are in that room in a great display case that was given to me from the folks at Goodyear during the making of 25 Hill. It’s a classic, long display case from the ’30s or ’40s, I think. So even my domes have an Akron connection.” Not to mention a Dorn dome.

After all, his connection to Akron has gone far beyond business, He has developed a strong emotional tie to the community, and again felt his admiration reciprocated following the death in May of his mother, Jeanne Cooper, a daytime-TV legend for her work on The Young and the Restless.

“The outpouring of love from Akron was magnificent,” he said.”Honestly the outpouring of love from around the world was simply staggering. But Akron, the people I’ve made a family with there, of course have a special place in my heart and their support has really been a boost during this ongoing process and journey. Really been a strange trip indeed and not at all like I would have imagined. The twists and turns you couldn’t write in a screenplay.”

After all, he said, “My mom’s passing has left a serious dent in my life on many levels. Yes, just missing her, ‘Mom,’  but also I’ve discovered lately that she was to some degree my ‘go to person’ for more serious matters of life for support and guidance. We had a special connection that way. All parents offer that but I think I depended on her deeply for it. She was my life ‘mentor’ if you will.”

Turning back to lighter topics, I asked Bernsen about being Dorn, especially 25 years after the movie began shooting.

“When I first read Major League I knew that Dorn, like Arnie Becker, would be a powerful character with real legs that would go for some time,” he said. “I was incredibly fortunate to get the offer during that time. I knew from playing Becker that there were certain characters written on the page, that if executed properly would not only stick out but be around for the long haul. I think ultimately people simply relate to them strongly either as someone they want to be, someone they want to be with, or someone they just hate so incredibly. Either way, they make an impact.

“I love that Roger Dorn is still part of my life, he said. While older women still think of him as Arnie Becker, he said, it’s also special to have men, including fathers and sons, call him Dorn.

Then there’s a younger generation of viewers who have discovered him on Psych, where he plays Henry Spencer, a body of work that he compared to “a nice variety of flavors at the local ice cream store.”

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of talk that the next season of Psych, its eighth, will also be its last. “From everything I hear season 8 will be it,” Bernsen said. “To be truthful, I’m not sure why it’s all coming to an end. It seems to not only be hitting a great stride now, but the audience is still strong.”

But he is able to look past whatever decisions are being made about the show. “Those are matters for the networks and others,” he said. “I have so much going on with Home Theater Films and my own movies, I don’t really have the time or brain space to jump into other’s entertainment matters. I do know this, and perhaps it’s a lesson from my mom’s passing, there is a time for all things, a season for everything and that’s really to be embraced without too much remorse.”

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including the HeldenFiles Online blog, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or rheldenfels@thebeaconjournal.com.


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