(LOS ANGELES) – Tom Dreesen is one of the world’s most groundbreaking, well-respected, and beloved entertainers of stage and screen. A living legend in the world of comedy, Dreesen has made over 500 national television appearances as a stand-up comedian — including more than 60 appearances on The Tonight Show, and as a frequent guest on The Late Show with David Letterman.
For years he has been a regular in all the main showrooms in Las Vegas and was a favorite national touring act, performing with artists like Smokey Robinson, Liza Minnelli, Natalie Cole, and Sammy Davis, Jr.However, nothing could top Dreesen’s more than 14 years as the opening act for the one and only Frank Sinatra, with whom he came to know as a mentor and a close friend.
Now, for the first time, the complete story of Tom Dreesen’s extraordinary and iconic 50-year career in show business is ready to be told in his personal memoir: Still Standing…My Journey from Streets and Saloons to the Stage, and Sinatra. The book, published by PostHill Press and distributed by Simon & Schuster, is now available online and in bookstores.
A true rags-to-riches tale, “Still Standing” is the behind-the-scenes story of Tom Dreesen’s unlikely journey from shining shoes in dark saloons on the south side of Chicago, to famously traveling the country as the opening act for the greatest entertainer who ever lived, Frank Sinatra.
Along the way, Dreesen became a pioneer of stand-up comedy. For the first six years of his career, Dreesen shared the stage with Tim Reid (WKRP in Cincinnati, Frank’s Place) as America’s first — and only — black and white comedy team. Together, “Tim and Tom” broke barriers during the height of racial tensions in the countryand built a lifelong friendship and brotherhood that exists to this day.
As a solo performer, Dreesen continued to hone his craft while working to break-in as a primetime performer at LA’s most famous comedy club, The Comedy Store. During this time, Dreesen became close with the other aspiring comedians working The Comedy Store, including David Letterman, Jay Leno, Robin Williams, Elayne Booseler, Freddie Prinz, Michael Keaton and other starson the rise at the dawn of the greatest era in the history of stand-up comedy.
Later, Dreesen helped organize and lead a movement of comedians to champion for fairness in how stand-up comics were compensated for performing in LA’s most famous comedy clubs, beginning with The Comedy Store. The successful effort forever changed the fortunes of countless young and funny men and women hoping to earn a living by performing stand-up.
During his more than fourteen years as Frank Sinatra’s opening act, Dreesen came to know Sinatra on personal terms as very few others can claim, with their similar backgrounds from small town streets and taverns providing the glue. Sinatra once remarked, “If I’m a saloon singer, and I am, then Tommy is a saloon comedian. In other words, we’re just a couple of neighborhood guys.”
Still Standing chronicles this special relationship with Frank Sinatra in a way that no other memoir has done before. Dreesen’s story is one of overcoming long-shot odds — enduring the hardships of being one of eight kids living in a shack, surviving the turmoil of a family led by two alcoholic parents –and ultimately finding his way off the streets and onto the world’s biggest stages.
As an actor, Dreesen has appeared in numerous motion pictures including Trouble with the Curve, Spaceballs, Man on the Moon, and HBO movies The Rat Pack and Lansky. He also mastered roles on classic television shows including Columbo, Touchedby an Angel, Murder She Wrote, The Facts of Life and WKRP in Cincinnati. He recorded a comedy album called That White Boy’s Crazy, becoming the only white comedian to record an album in front of an all-black audience.
Tom Dreesen — the boy from Harvey, Illinois — has never forgotten where he came from. He returns to the south side of Chicago often to see friends and family — and to mark the span of his journey and good fortune. A proud humanitarian, Dreesen has also made an indelible mark through his decades of philanthropic activities, lending his talent to over 100 charitable organizations and as founder of one of his own: “Day for Darlene” to beneﬁt Multiple Sclerosis research in honor of his late sister.
A veteran of the U.S. Navy and strong supporter of the U.S. military, Dreesen has also performed for U.S. troops around the world. To commemorate this noble work, in 2005 Dreesen received the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor Award for humanitarian service to his country.
Tom is currently appearing in theaters around the country in his one man show, An Evening of Laughter and Stories of Sinatra, displaying his critically acclaimed comedy skills with his extraordinary storytelling ability.
Recognized for his legacy of career-spanning work — and known as one of Hollywood’s true gentlemen — Dreesen has earned his status as a legend of the entertainment industry. “Still Standing” is his story, and his story is one for the ages.