He was 86 years old and had been living at the facility for several weeks, "surrounded by show business colleagues he had worked with and served," according to representatives of The Actors' Fund, the national nonprofit organization that addresses the needs of all entertainment professionals.
As a lifetime member and president of The Actors' Fund from 1989-2004, Mr. Dillon presided over countless activities designed to take care of entertainment professionals in need from every area of show business. He was heavily involved in day-to-day care for almost 14,000 entertainment professionals annually. Working closely with The Fund's trustees, executives and staff, he was closely associated with The Aurora, a 178-unit apartment complex offering affordable housing for entertainment professionals in Manhattan; the daily running of the Englewood facility, which boasts the highest health ratings for retirement and assisted living in the state of New Jersey; and The Palm View, a 44-unit luxury apartment complex in West Hollywood, CA, for entertainment professionals with AIDS.
According to The Actors' Fund, at the time of his death, he was involved in preparations for a fundraising campaign celebrating the 125th anniversary of The Fund.
“As president, Tom shepherded The Actors’ Fund through a period of wonderful growth and achievement, and he did so with great dignity, morality and compassion,” stated Joseph P. Benincasa, executive director.
Mr. Dillon was born Sept. 3, 1918, in Brooklyn, where he remained a resident throughout his life. He won acclaim as an Irish tenor from his first performance at the age of 18 as a boy soprano on WNYC radio. He served in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II and became one of the stars —alongside Mario Lanza, Karl Malden, John Forsythe and Red Buttons — in the Moss Hart classic Winged Victory, which featured servicemen from all branches, on Broadway. He toured with the iconic show throughout America and starred in the celebrated film, raising funds for the Army Emergency Relief Fund. In 1996, Dillon co-hosted the 50th anniversary reunion of the cast in New York City along with Kitty Carlisle Hart, the author's widow.
Mr. Dillon's almost 70 years in show business took him to performances in stock and on the Broadway stage in Ziegfeld Follies and The Wonderful World of Burlesque. (The Internet Broadway Database at ibdb.com seems to have conflated some credits between Mr. Dillon and a Thomas Patrick Dillon.)
During the early days of television, Mr. Dillon was a featured performer in the popular Milton Berle, Victor Borge, Perry Como, Imogene Coca, Kate Smith and Martha Raye shows. In addition to "Winged Victory," he was seen in such films as "Slaughterhouse Five," "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles," "Anastasia" and "Family Business."
Audiences throughout America saw Mr. Dillon partnered with vaudeville headliner Bert Wheeler for 13 years in a musical comedy act, and in appearances from "The Ed Sullivan Show" to the White House. Mr. Dillon also sang at the Miss America Pageants and in an appearance at Carnegie Hall.
In addition to presiding over The Actors' Fund, Mr. Dillon was a Shepherd (President) of the venerable show business club and charity The Lambs Club. He was a member of Actors' Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and American Guild of Variety Artists.
Mr. Dillon was also a fixture in the Broadway community, serving as a member of the nominating committee of the Antoinette Perry (Tony) Awards and a recipient of the Founder's Award of the Theatre Hall of Fame.
Mr. Dillon is survived by his wife of 61 years, the former Alice Parker. Funeral services will be held 10:30 AM March 18 at the Actors' Chapel, St. Malachy's, 239 West 49th Street, New York City.
Joseph Benincasa, executive director of The Actors' Fund, has announced a memorial tribute will be held in the near future. In lieu of flowers, donations are suggested to The Actors' Fund of America, 729 Seventh Avenue, 10th Floor, New York, New York 10019.