Tom Dreesen

Last updated
Tom Dreesen
Born (1939-09-11) September 11, 1939 (age 82)
OccupationActor, stand-up comedian
Years active1968-present

Tom Dreesen (born September 11, 1939) is an American actor and stand-up comedian.


Life and career

Dreesen grew up in Harvey, Illinois, a south suburb of Chicago. [1] He attended Thornton Township High School there. While working as an insurance salesman in 1968, he met Tim Reid through a local Jaycee chapter, [2] and the two teamed up as Tim and Tom, the first biracial stand-up comedy duo in the United States. Shortly thereafter they sought the assistance of radio personality Vince Sanders, who would coach the act and handle some of its business affairs for the next four years.[ citation needed ]

Though their material is now considered cutting-edge for its time, the pair struggled to make a living together and split up in the mid-1970s. However, each found individual success: while Reid landed a major role on WKRP in Cincinnati , Dreesen made appearances on Match Game and became a regular on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson [3] and toured with Frank Sinatra as the crooner's opening act.

In 1979 he supported the strike at The Comedy Store in West Hollywood. The strike was settled and the comedians performing there began to get paid; that year, he also appeared on Beat The Clock . In 1989, Dreesen released a comedy album through Flying Fish Records called That White Boy's Crazy. The album was recorded in front of an all-black audience in Harvey, Illinois. [1]

Dreesen continues to perform today. He is also involved in philanthropic endeavors and hosts an annual golf tournament called the Tom Dreesen Celebrity Classic. [4] In 2008, Dreesen, Reid, and former Chicago Sun-Times sportswriter Ron Rapoport collaborated on the book Tim and Tom: An American Comedy in Black and White. [5]

On June 9, 2020, Post Hill Press published Dreesen's memoir, "Still Standing...My Journey from Streets and Saloons to the Stage, and Sinatra." [6]

Dreesen has appeared in acting roles in the television series Columbo , WKRP in Cincinnati and Murder, She Wrote , and in such films as Spaceballs , The Rat Pack and Trouble with the Curve .

In 1999, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to him. [7]

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  1. 1 2 Kathy O'Malley. "Crazy white boy; Tom Dreesen does comedy about blacks in black clubs". Chicago Tribune . November 5, 1989. 5.
  2. "Tim & Tom: A 'Black And White' Comedy Duo". NPR . Retrieved 2008-09-28.
  3. Michael Miner. "A Pioneering Flop". Chicago Reader . Tom also took part on an episode of the Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts in the roast of George Burns in the mid 70's. September 4, 2008. Retrieved on September 17, 2008.
  4. Len Ziehm. "Dreesen keeps celebs coming back for more". Chicago Sun-Times . August 13, 2007. 76.
  5. Mike Thomas. "Soul Brothers - Tim Reid and Tom Dreesen recall their racially charged comedy act". Chicago Sun-Times . September 14, 2008. D8.
  6. "Still Standing…: My Journey from Streets and Saloons to the Stage, and Sinatra".
  7. Palm Springs Walk of Stars by date dedicated Archived 2012-10-13 at the Wayback Machine

Further reading

Dreesen, Tom (June 9, 2020). Still Standing...: My Journey from Streets and Saloons to the Stage, and Sinatra. Post Hill Press. ISBN   978-1642933604 . Retrieved June 14, 2020.