A Media Path through Mid-Century Live Entertainment ...
This week on Media Path our guest, comedian Tom Dreesen, helped us bridge two sides of
popular culture which equally influenced the Baby Boomer generation, music and comedy. Tom has just released a book called ‘Still Standing...: My Journey from Streets and Saloons to the Stage, and Sinatra’, available on Amazon , that’s part autobiography, part humor-filled summer read and part history of the legend we know as Sinatra, and Tom knew as a trusted, lifelong friend.
In the 15 years Tom Dreesen toured as Frank Sinatra’s opening act he did his best to not be the one thing Frank already had plenty of – a fan. There were lots of times Tom wanted to just praise a performance or recall an iconic film role in a conversation with Frank, but he stopped himself, because Frank needed Tom to bring some normalcy into his life, Frank needed him, as Tom told us, to be a pal. Tom gets emotional when he talks about his friend Frank but so does Louise, when she recalls taking a trip out West to Vegas as a teen, to see Frank with her brother, and having to order dozens of Cokes to fulfill the drink minimum. Our stories all cross and intersect and the bonds they create between us grow stronger.
When you listen to Tom Dreesen talk you put a voice, and a face, to some of the most
compelling events on and off stage in the entertainment industry, the roots of which go so deep that popular culture is just starting to get caught up to their impact. Tom’s perspective is a window, which you can look through and see all the sides and angles of the Hollywood dream, from his humble beginnings to a career in the limelight, to having accumulated arguably the most priceless riches imaginable: jaw-dropping stories that inspire and excite everyone that’s fortunate enough to hear them, across generations and backgrounds, a resonant, lush history of people and places that sparks a light in all of us.
When Tom speaks, it’s like watching a movie or reading a great piece of literature, you’re
suddenly lost in a world that seems somewhere beyond the one you’re in and the things he
describes have a sense of magic, beyond mere nostalgia, they’re true but still amazing, detailed and fascinating. This is his life story but he talks about things so familiar that it feels like all of ours.
His recollections portray an intersection of history and culture, as played out on the stages of
arenas and comedy clubs. He talks about witnessing Sammy Davis Jr. walk out on stage for the first time in front of a black audience after publicly coming out in support for President Nixon.
He tells the story of how he accidently, but fatefully, became the Jimmy Hoffa of stand-up and
helped comics organize to get a paycheck for working at The Comedy Store. He tells us how
Frank’s eyes lit up when he heard a good joke and how he never stopped marveling at how blue those eyes really were.
We hope this episode of Media Path inspires you to take one of the roads we traveled through as far as it can go and it brought back great memories or taught you something completely new! You can listen to it here on the Media Path website or watch video on YouTube, it’s also available everywhere you listen to podcasts.
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