PPB’s latest celebrity luncheon honoree’s life is equal parts comedy and philanthropy. He excels at both, and has created an extraordinary legacy in both arenas. Tom Dreesen received our Art Gilmore Career Achievement Award from President Alan Perris on June 29 in Sportsmen’s Lodge.
Dreesen has made over 500 appearances on national television as a stand-up comedian, including more than 60 appearances on “The Tonight Show.” He was a favorite guest of David Letterman, and frequently hosted 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.”
Tom 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,” excerpts from which Tom performed in a special program following the luncheon, in lieu of the normal dais guests' comments.
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. Dreesen’s comic style is down-to-earth, warm and unpretentious and our afternoon with him was filled with laughter and wonderful stories.
Pictured Below The usual post-luncheon salutes from a panel of dais guests were replaced this time by Tom Dreesen, left-center, performing his 90-minute comedy show. There to enjoy it were PPB member Wink Martindale and his wife Sandy, and far right, PPB Member Donna Anderson.
(Don Graham photo)