Dreesen, Reid Tried Laughter to Counter Racism
October 2013 — Comedian Tom Dreesen is known for his work with Frank Sinatra, opening for the Rat Pack king for 14 years.
Many fans might not know that the veteran comedian made a name for himself by breaking racial barriers at a time when the nation’s racial divide was quite wide.
In the 1960s Dreesen worked with comedian Tim Reid to form the nation’s first biracial comedy team. Their six years of integrated entertainment made an indelible mark on the world of comedy, but Dreesen says being the nation’s first black-and-white comedy team was not always easy.
Lakeshore News anchor Jodi Juhl continues her conversation with Dreesen who joined her in the legendary Pump Room in downtown Chicago.
They talked about how racial tensions in society spilled over into targeting the Tim & Tom comedy team, involving encounters such as a lit cigarette put out on Tim’s face by a man who then beat Tom, part of racial attacks that were verbal and physical. Despite insults, they went on to success, Reid as TV’s Venus Flytrap, and Dreesen says they remain friends to this day.
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