Denny Dillon

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Denny Dillon
Denise Dillon

(1951-05-18) May 18, 1951 (age 67)
OccupationComedian, actress
Years active1973-present

Denise "Denny" Dillon (born May 18, 1951) is an American actress and comedian. First known as a stage actress, who was nominated for a Tony Award on Broadway, Dillon appeared for a season on Saturday Night Live and has done other television and film acting. In recent years, she has continued to act in theatre and both teaches and performs in improv comedy.

Life and career[edit]

Dillon was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and has lived in New York City and Los Angeles, and now lives in Ulster County, New York.[1]

Dillon has performed on the Broadway stage, appearing as Agnes in the 1974 revival of Gypsy starring Angela Lansbury;[2] in the 1975 revival of Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth; in the 1980 stage version of Harold and Maude;[3] 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.[4] She later appeared as a replacement cast member in the 2003 Broadway play Enchanted April.[5]

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. Later, she appeared for a short time on Saturday Night Live in 1980-1981[6] during the troubled tenure of Jean Doumanian. (Dillon was the shortest cast member in Saturday Night Live history at 4'11" (150 cm).) Dillon found more success as Toby Pedalbee, the abusive yet loyal assistant on the HBO cable sitcom Dream On, starting in 1990.[7] She was the voice of Meadow Morn in the 1983 animation The Magic of Herself the Elf. Other television roles include an episode of Night Court entitled "Educating Rhonda" (Dillon). She played Judy on the TV series comedy Dr. Science (1987).[8] In 1994 she portrayed Roseanne Barr in the made-for-TV film Roseanne: An Unauthorized Biography.[9]

Dillon has done voice-acting for animation, most recently in Ice Age.[8]

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".[10] She appeared in the Tennessee Williams plays 8 by Tenn at the Hartford Stage in 2003.[11] 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.[12] 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.[13] In January 2012 she stars as Berthe in Boeing-Boeing at Hartford Stage.[14]

Dillon has headed the "Improv Nation", based in the Hudson Valley (New York), since 2006.[15] She is an Artist in-Residence at SUNY Ulster where she teaches improvisation and is on the faculty of Primary Stages.[16]

Saturday Night Live[edit]

Dillon had auditioned for the premiere season of SNL in 1975, and though she was passed over by producer Lorne Michaels, she got to perform her "Talent Night at the Convent" act during the show's third episode, broadcast October 25, 1975.[17]

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?"


  1. ^ Krawitz, Susan. Reuse, Restore, Repurpose". Archived 2011-09-06 at the Wayback Machine. NewYorkHouseMagazine, accessed January 6, 2012
  2. ^ "'Gypsy', 1974 Broadway Revival"., accessed January 6, 2012
  3. ^ Simon, John. "Review. 'Harold and Maude'". New York Magazine. February 18, 1980
  4. ^ "1983 Tony Awards"., accessed January 6, 2012
  5. ^ Gans, Andrew. Enchanted April to Close on Broadway Aug. 31" Archived 2013-11-03 at the Wayback Machine.. Playbill, July 28, 2003
  6. ^ Saturday Night Live., accessed January 6, 2012
  7. ^ Kogan, Rick. "Hbo Gets Original With Witty`dream". Chicago Tribune. July 6, 1990
  8. ^ a b "Denny Dillon Filmography". The New York Times, accessed January 6, 2012
  9. ^ Gray, Tim (October 11, 1994). "Roseanne: An Unauthorized Biography". Variety. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  10. ^ 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". Baltimore Sun. December 19, 1996
  11. ^ 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
  12. ^ 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
  13. ^ 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
  14. ^ 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
  15. ^ No Author. "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
  16. ^ "Meet Our Faculty. Denny Dillon",, accessed January 6, 2012
  17. ^ "Saturday Night's Children: Denny Dillon (1980-1981)",, accessed April 6, 2015

External links[edit]