Becoming Frank Sinatra’s Opening Act

Tom Dreesen

Tom Dreesen

In 1982, comedian Tom Dreesen was appearing with Smokey Robinson at Caesar’s Palace in Lake Tahoe while Frank Sinatra was working a few doors away at Harrah’s.  Tom wanted a chance to see Frank’s show up-close, so he called over to Harrah’s, where he had worked with  Sammy Davis Jr. and asked if he could watch the show from backstage.

When he arrived, he was called over by Harrah’s executive Holmes Hendricksen, who was standing with another man.  Hendricksen said “Tommy, this is Mickey Rudin”, who Tom recognized as Frank’s lawyer and manager.  Then Hendricksen said “Mickey, this is Tom Dreesen.  I think Tom would make a great opening act for Frank”.  Rudin, to be funny, said “Hey kid, if I gave you a week with Frank, would you want more than $50,000?”  Tom said “Let me put it this way, Mr. Rudin.  If you gave me a week with Frank, would you want more than $50,000?”  Rudin burst out laughing and said “I like this kid”. 

A few days later, Tom’s manager got a call, and before long, Tom was preceding Frank on stage in Atlantic City.  Following his second performance, Frank invited Tom to join him and his wife Barbara for dinner.  In the middle of the meal, Frank put down his knife and fork and said “I like your material and I like your style.  I’d like you to do a few other dates with me if you’re interested”.   

Dreesen Sinatra250  And that led to an exciting job that lasted fourteen years, and a warm personal relationship that lasted  until Frank’s passing in 1998.   Tom and Frank are pictured together here.

For this writer and Frank Sinatra Impersonator, it’s great to have a friend like Tom Dreesen, a Sinatra confidant, and one of America’s finest comedians.

Published in: on July 19, 2009 at 1:01 AM  Leave a Comment  
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