Denny Dillon’s Acting Career Is More Than Just a ‘Dream’

Fans of HBO’s ribald Sunday comedy series “Dream On” take note: Toby Pedalbee, the “secretary from hell,” is falling in love this season. Dream on, you say?

“I do fall in love,” insists Denny Dillon, the petite (4-foot, 11-inch) actress who brings Toby to acerbic life. And in next week’s installment, Toby trips, and even tap-dances, the light fantastic with her boss’s cousin.

But, Dillon says, the road to this romance is rocky: “There’s a real surprise in the episode--a little hitch which is pretty funny.”

Each 30-minute episode is shot in about three days. But the hectic schedule doesn’t ruffle Dillon’s feathers. The actress says being a regular a decade ago on “Saturday Night Live” was “good training in terms of doing things very quickly.”


Even better training was appearing with Tommy Tune on Broadway in the hit 1983 musical “My One and Only,” for which she received a Tony nomination. After the show opened in Boston to dismal reviews, Tune and Mike Nichols reworked the musical.

“We would do one musical in the evening and would be rehearsing the new one during the day. It was very confusing.”

The Cleveland native’s been acting since her mother got her involved in children’s theater.

“I really enjoyed it, but I’m glad I wasn’t near New York or Hollywood because my mom is a bit of a Mama Rose (a stage mother).”


As a youngster, her biggest ambition was to leave Cleveland. “As soon as I was old enough to open my eyes,” Dillon quips, “I knew I had to go out of that town.”

She got her wish, of sorts, in high school when her stepfather was transferred to Manila. “It was very bizarre,” Dillon recalls. “Maybe that’s why I got so funny trying to make that jump from Cleveland to Manila.”