TOM RECEIVES 2005 ELLIS ISLAND MEDAL OF HONOR AWARD
Tom Dreesen’s life is equal parts comedy and philanthropy. He excels at both, and has created an extraordinary legacy in both arenas.
Dreesen has made over 500 appearances on national television as a stand-up comedian, including more than 60 spots on The Tonight Show. He is a favorite guest of David Letterman, and recently 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 has 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’.
Dreesen’s comedic 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.” 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 the last 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, last Christmas Dreesen entertained troops throughout Iraq.
Tom Dreesen’s hometown of Harvey, Illinois named a street after him. He is the recipient of a 2005 Ellis Island Medal of Honor.