March 9, 2020
Tom Dreesen grew up in Harvey, Illinois, a south suburb of Chicago. He attended Thornton Township High School there. While working as an insurance salesman in 1968, he met Tim Reid through a local Jaycee chapter, 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.
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.
Dreesen continues to perform today. He is also involved in philanthropic endeavors and hosts an annual golf tournament called the Tom Dreesen Celebrity Classic. 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.”
Dreesen has made over 500 appearances on national television as a stand-up comedian, including more that 60 appearances on The Tonight Show. He is a favorite guest of David Letterman, and frequently hosts the show in Letterman’s absence. For 13 years he toured cross country and opened for Frank Sinatra, and has appeared countless times in Las Vegas, Tahoe, Reno and Atlantic City with artists like Smokey Robinson, Liza Minnelli, Natalie Cole and Sammy Davis, Jr. Tom has acted in numerous television shows – from Columbo to Murder She Wrote – and appeared in motion pictures including Man on the Moon and Spaceballs. He has recorded comedy albums, starred in his own TV comedy special, Dreesen Street, and hosted a late night talk show in Chicago, Night Time Starring Tom Dreesen.
He is currently appearing to rave reviews around the country in his one-man show “An Evening Of Laughter and Memories of Sinatra.”
Dreesen’s comic style is down-to-earth, warm and unpretentious. Daily Variety called him “a thorough pro… one of the most respected family comedians of our time.” Larry Wilde ,author of The Great Comedians said about Tom’s performances. “Excellent Material, Impeccable Timing, Tom Dreesen is the Quintessential Comedian.” Frank Sinatra, who called himself a “saloon singer,” characterized Dreesen as a “saloon comedian.” “We’re a couple of neighborhood kind of guys,” said Sinatra.
Dreesen has also made an indelible mark with his philanthropic activities. For 30 years he has lent his talent to over 100 charities, and founded a “Day for Darlene” to beneﬁt Multiple Sclerosis Research. He ran 26 miles on three occasions for the event, which is named for his late sister who was afﬂicted with MS.
And he’s still going strong. A proud veteran of the United States Navy, he continues to perform for US troops all over the world, and recently appeared at numerous bases in Iraq. Tom Dreesen’s hometown of Harvey, Illinois named a street after him. He was a 2005 recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.