Denny Dillon

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Denny Dillon
Denise Dillon

(1951-05-18) May 18, 1951 (age 72)
Occupation(s)Comedian, actress
Years active1973–present
SpouseBarbara Smiley[1]

Denise Dillon (born May 18, 1951) is an American actress and comedian best known for starring as Toby Pedalbee on the HBO comedy Dream On from 1990 to 1996. Dillon was first known for her stage work and was nominated for a Tony Award on Broadway. Other television credits include spending one season as a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1980 to 1981 and co-starring on the Fox sitcom Women in Prison.[2] She subsequently continued to act in theater and both teaches and performs improv comedy.

Early life[edit]

Dillon was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She has lived in New York City and Los Angeles before moving to Ulster County, New York.[3]


Early work[edit]

Dillon has performed on the Broadway stage, appearing as Agnes in the 1974 revival of Gypsy starring Angela Lansbury;[4] in the 1975 revival of Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth; in the 1980 stage version of Harold and Maude;[5] and as Mickey in the 1983 Gershwin musical My One and Only, starring Tommy Tune and Twiggy, for which she received a nomination for a Tony Award for Featured Actress in a Musical.[6] She later appeared as a replacement cast member in the 2003 Broadway play Enchanted April.[7]

Dillon made her big screen debut in Saturday Night Fever, playing Doreen, who asks John Travolta's character Tony if she can wipe his forehead.[citation needed]

Saturday Night Live[edit]

Dillon auditioned for the premiere season of the late night variety television program Saturday Night Live in 1975, and though she was passed over by producer Lorne Michaels, she performed her "Talent Night at the Convent" act during the show's third episode, broadcast October 25, 1975.[8] When she auditioned to be a cast member for the show's sixth season in 1980, Dillon beat out Mercedes Ruehl for the final female cast member slot.[1]

Recurring SNL characters
  • Debbie, Valley Girl Vickie's (Gail Matthius) best friend
  • Mary Louise, a mentally disturbed child who scares people with her hand puppet, Sam the Snake
  • Nadine, the neurotic frequent customer at Roweena's (Gail Matthius) Cut 'n Curl
  • Pinky Waxman, Leo Waxman's (Gilbert Gottfried) wife and co-host on "What's It All About?"
Celebrity Impressions on SNL

Later work[edit]

Dillon provided the voice of Meadow Morn in the 1983 animated TV special The Magic of Herself the Elf. Other television roles include the role of Judy on the 1987 TV comedy series Dr. Science and a 1988 appearance on the Night Court episode "Educating Rhonda".[10]

Dillon began her role as Toby Pedalbee, loyal assistant to Martin Tupper (Brian Benben), in the series Dream On in 1990.[11]

She portrayed Roseanne Barr in the 1994 made-for-TV movie Roseanne: An Unauthorized Biography.[12] Dillon performed voice work for the 2002 animated film Ice Age.[10]

In regional theatre, Dillon appeared in the new musical Triumph of Love at Center Stage, Baltimore, Maryland, in December 1996, as one of a "comic trio of clowns".[13] She appeared in the Tennessee Williams plays 8 by Tenn at the Hartford Stage in 2003.[14] Dillon starred as Beatrice in the world premiere of Tom Dudzick's Don't Talk to the Actors at Studio Arena Theatre in Buffalo, New York in September 2007.[15] In October - November 2010 she appeared in a new musical in "development", Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach at Goodspeed Musicals in Chester, Connecticut.[16] In January 2012 she stars as Berthe in Boeing-Boeing at Hartford Stage.[17]

Dillon has headed the "Improv Nation", based in the Hudson Valley (New York), since 2006.[18] She is an Artist in-Residence at SUNY Ulster where she teaches improvisation and is on the faculty of Primary Stages.[19]

Personal life[edit]

In an August 2020 interview with Vulture, Dillon said she was gay and had married Barbara Smiley a year and a half prior. They live in New York's Hudson Valley. Although she was out to most of her colleagues during her time on Saturday Night Live, she was uncertain if producer Jean Doumanian or NBC executive Dick Ebersol were aware, saying, "It was a different time."[1]


  1. ^ a b c Hoglund, Andy (August 12, 2020). "Interview: Denny Dillon Reflects on Saturday Night Live's Infamous 6th Season". Vulture. Retrieved November 21, 2021.
  2. ^ Gus Wezerek (2019-12-14). "The 'S.N.L.' Stars Who Lasted, and the Ones Who Flamed Out". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2019-12-14. Retrieved 2019-12-16. Some of the names here will be familiar only to die-hard fans; others, like Murphy, defined what was funny for generations of viewers.
  3. ^ Krawitz, Susan. "Repurpose Reuse, Restore, Repurpose". New York House Magazine. Archived from the original on 2011-09-06. Retrieved January 6, 2012.
  4. ^ "'Gypsy', 1974 Broadway Revival"., accessed January 6, 2012
  5. ^ Simon, John. "Review. 'Harold and Maude'". New York Magazine. February 18, 1980
  6. ^ "1983 Tony Awards" Archived 2012-01-05 at the Wayback Machine., accessed January 6, 2012
  7. ^ Gans, Andrew. Enchanted April to Close on Broadway Aug. 31" Archived 2013-11-03 at the Wayback Machine. Playbill, July 28, 2003.
  8. ^ "Saturday Night's Children: Denny Dillon (1980-1981)" Archived 2015-03-24 at the Wayback Machine,, accessed April 6, 2015
  9. ^ "Yoko Ono". SNL Archives. Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  10. ^ a b "Denny Dillon Filmography". The New York Times, accessed January 6, 2012
  11. ^ Kogan, Rick. "Hbo Gets Original With Witty`dream". Chicago Tribune. July 6, 1990
  12. ^ Gray, Tim (October 11, 1994). "Roseanne: An Unauthorized Biography". Variety. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  13. ^ Rousuck, J. Wynn. "'Love' changes a few things Theater: Strategic tweaking of music and set adds to the promise of 'Triumph of Love' at Center Stage" Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine. The Baltimore Sun. December 19, 1996
  14. ^ Hernandez, Ernio. "Williams Portrait 8 by Tenn Starts Hartford Stage's 40th Season, Oct. 2-Nov. 2" Archived 2013-01-31 at Playbill, October 2, 2003
  15. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Kline, Dillon, Stadlen Star in New Showbiz Comedy, 'Don't Talk to the Actors'" Archived 2010-09-21 at the Wayback Machine. Playbill, September 11, 2007
  16. ^ Jones, Kenneth. "Justin Lawrence Hall, Denny Dillon, Ruth Gottschall, Jim Stanek Will Bite Into Giant Peach Musical in CT" Archived 2010-12-02 at the Wayback Machine. Playbill, September 28, 2010
  17. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Tony Nominee Denny Dillon Set for 'Boeing-Boeing' at Hartford Stage" Archived 2012-01-02 at the Wayback Machine. Playbill, November 30, 2011
  18. ^ "Denny Dillon and the Improv Nation to Appear at Shadowland Theatre" Archived 2011-11-15 at the Wayback Machine. (Ellenville, New York), April 14, 2011
  19. ^ "Meet Our Faculty. Denny Dillon",, accessed January 6, 2012

External links[edit]