John Dillon (comedian)

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John Dillon
John Dillon (1831-1913).jpg
Born John Daily Marum
October 2, 1831
Died April 22, 1913
Occupation Actor, commedian

John Dillon (born John Daily Marum; October 2, 1831 – April 22, 1913) was an American comedian based in Chicago and popular in the central part of the United States in the late 19th century.

Dillon was born in County Kilkenny, Ireland, on October 2, 1831, and came to the United States at age 17 in 1848.[1] Making his way from New York City to Buffalo, and then to Chicago, he started doing factory work. He later began playing small theater roles, debuting in Milwaukee in May 1854.[2] He later went back in Chicago, where he joined the McVicker's Theatre company.

After a few years, Dillon went to New York and joined Laura Keene's company in 1862, and gained attention for his comedic skills.[3] From 1864-66, he was the head comedian at Wood's Museum.[2] He then moved back to Chicago, touring the West frequently and becoming a "household word."[4][5][6] In 1875, he returned to New York to appear in A. Oakey Hall's play The Crucible. He continued to perform through the 1880s and 1890s.

Dillon died in Chicago on April 22, 1913.[7]

Selected performances[edit]

  • The Seven Sons (1862)
  • Risks; or, Insure Your Life (1873) (written by Bartley Campbell)
  • The Crucible (play) (1875) (written by A. Oakey Hall)[8]
  • Our Boys (play) (1877, managed by Charles Frohman)[9]
  • State's Attorney (1882)
  • Wanted, the Earth (1887 play by Gus Heege)
  • A Model Husband (play) (1892)
  • Bartlett's Road To Seltzerville (1899)


Dillon was married at least twice, and had two daughters.

His first wife was Helen Louise Allen, whom he married in 1856.[2] She was a sister of the wife of Jack Langrishe, who along with J.B. Atwater, ran the Milwaukee theatre where Dillon was playing at that time.[10]

His second wife was actress Mary Louise Hernandez (known as Louise Dillon). They married on October 3, 1872, in Sioux City, Iowa. She obtained a divorce in 1882, complaining that Dillon was a habitual drunk.[3][11][12] There are indications that Dillon liked to drink, with periods of abstinence, as an 1879 profile of Dillon describes him as "determined never to invoke the pleasures of Bacchus again. He is as much opposed to the reign of that god now as he was his votary years ago."[3] And a short newspaper blurb in 1892 reported Dillon was a member of the "Chicago Bi-Chloride of Gold Club" (which references a treatment for alcoholism popular in the 1890s), and "certainly should now be 'a model husband' if he never was before."[13] "A Model Husband" was also the name of his most recent play at that time.[14]


  1. ^ Sherman, Robert Lowery. Actors and authors: with composers and managers who helped make them famous; a chronological record and brief biography of theatrical celebrities from 1750 to 1950, p. 163 (1951)
  2. ^ a b c (12 November 1898). Professional Doings, New York Dramatic Mirror, p. 15
  3. ^ a b c (18 November 1879). John Dillon: Brief Sketch of His Early Career as a Comedian, Daily Herald
  4. ^ (9 April 1887). Gossip of the Town, New York Dramatic Mirror
  5. ^ Graham, Franklin. Histrionic Montreal, p. 217 (2d ed. 1902)
  6. ^ (11 January 1876). Amusements: Mr. John Dillon at the Park Theatre, New York Herald
  7. ^ (23 April 1913). Veteran Comedian Dead, The Evening World
  8. ^ (1 January 1876). Hon. A. Oakey Hall in the Play of "The Crucible", Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper
  9. ^ The Encyclopædia Britannica, p. 156 (12th ed., Vol. XXXI, 1922)
  10. ^ (18 February 1966). City Got Reputation for 'Tough' Theater Audiences Century Ago, The Capital Times
  11. ^ (22 February 1890). Driftwood, The Theatre Magazine, Vol, VI, No. 16, p. 288
  13. ^ (21 October 1892). The Week, Adrian Weekly Press
  14. ^ (19 April 1893). A Funny Old Man: John Dillon Impersonates A Model Husband, Nevada Daily Mail