Thomas Mikal Ford
|Thomas Mikal Ford|
Ford in Harlem Nights, 1989.
|Born||Thomas Mikal Ford
September 5, 1964
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Died||October 12, 2016
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
|Cause of death||Aneurysm|
|Other names||Tommy Ford|
|Education||University of Southern California|
|Known for||Thomas "Tommy" Strawn – Martin
Mel Parker – The Parkers
(m. 1997; div. 2014)
Thomas Mikal Ford (September 5, 1964 – October 12, 2016), sometimes credited as Tommy Ford, was an American actor and comedian. Ford was best known for his role as Thomas "Tommy" Strawn on the FOX sitcom Martin which originally aired from 1992 until 1997. Ford also had a recurring role as Mel Parker in the UPN sitcom The Parkers from 1999 until 2001.
Early life and education
Ford was born in Los Angeles and raised in Long Beach, California. His mother worked as a school secretary and his father as a pipe-fitter. As a child, Ford wanted to be a preacher. When he took drama lessons and started acting in high school plays, he decided to go into acting instead. After earning Associate of Arts degree from Long Beach City College in 1985, Ford transferred to the University of Southern California, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in acting.
In Martin, Ford played Tommy Strawn who was, at times, the straight man for Martin Lawrence's jokes, but he very often inserted scene-stealing "bald-headed logic" and witty comments in odd situations. Also, his character was often the subject of many jokes regarding his mysterious employment status, though Tisha Campbell-Martin revealed he was a counselor and presumably unemployed after Ford complained that his character lacked development. Ford received an NAACP Image Awards nomination in 1996 in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.
After Martin ended, Ford found success in the detective drama New York Undercover as Lieutenant Malcolm Barker. He appeared on the UPN sitcom The Parkers in the recurring role of Nikki's ex-husband and Kim's father, Mel Parker, in seven episodes. He played Ben Cummings in The Power of Passion as one of the characters whose wife cheats on him with the pastor. He was also known as "The Pope of Comedy", due to exposure as a judge on TV One's comedy competition show Bill Bellamy's Who's Got Jokes? In feature films, Ford appeared in the Kid 'n Play movie Class Act as "Mink". In Harlem Nights, he played Tommy Smalls, the brother of Arsenio Hall's character. He was seen in the crime drama Against the Law (1997).
In 1993, Ford directed and produced the play South of Where We Live, about six African-American professionals who return to the communities where they were raised and learn about the social issues that now exist. The play was performed at the Los Angeles Ebony Showcase Theatre, the oldest black theater in the country. Ford chose the Ebony Showcase in order to raise money for the theater, which was in danger of closing. The same year, he directed the play Jonin', a comedy about fraternity life at a historically black college in Washington, D.C.
Ford co-hosted the Texas Gospel Music Awards in 1993 with singer Yolanda Adams and actor Troy Curvey. In 1998, Ford founded a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization called Be Still and Know. The organization's mission was to build better communities for youth.
Ford wrote two inspirational books for children, titled Positive Attitude and I am Responsible for Me. Ford spent time traveling to schools to inspire and empower children, and encourage responsibility. In June 2016, Ford directed a documentary on bullying, entitled Through My Lens Atl; it aired in October 2016, on Aspire TV.
Ford was married once to Gina Sasso from 1997 to 2014. Ford had two children. Ford moved from Los Angeles to Kendall, Florida, around 2001. In 2015, Ford moved to Atlanta, GA where he lived with his girlfriend Viviane Brazil. Ford died on October 12, 2016, at an Atlanta area hospital after an aneurysm in his abdomen ruptured. He was 52.
Major roles in television and film
- Harlem Nights (1989) – Tommy Smalls
- Nasty Boys (1989) – Pay Day
- A Different World (1989) – Lamar
- Uncle Buck (1990) – Rafer Freeman
- The Flash (1991) – Elliot Cotrell
- Class Act (1992) – Mink
- Martin (1992–1997) – Thomas "Tommy" Strawn
- Living Single (1993) – Michael Edwards
- New York Undercover (1998–1999) – Lt. Malcolm Barker
- The Jamie Foxx Show (1999) – Marcus
- The Parkers (1999–2004) – Mel Parker
- Who's Got Jokes? (2006–2008) – Pope of Comedy
- Let's Stay Together (2011) – The Reverend
- "Davison Lecture Series Begins with Hollywood Actor". Infoweb Targeted News Service. September 9, 2011.
- NNDB - Thomas Mikal Ford
- "Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...". IndieWire. December 23, 2012.
- Knott, Tony P. (July 21, 1993). "Kickin' It With Tommy". Press-Telegram. Long Beach, California.
- Salazar, Carolyn (September 16, 2001). "Ford's Dedication to Helping Kids Prosper is No Act". The Miami Herald.
- Pack, Susan (October 21, 1995). "LBCC to Honor 4 Alumni". Press-Telegram. Long Beach, California.
- "Remembering Tommy Ford". Socialbilitty. October 13, 2016. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
- "'Friends' an Emmy Nominee for All of About Five Minutes". Daily News. July 25, 1997.
- "Who's showing up for May sweeps?". Mobile Register. Mobile, Alabama. April 27, 2000.
- "Power of Passion Reviews". YouTube. April 14, 2013. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
- Campbell, Roy H. (December 3, 1989). "Jasmine Guy on Her Way". The Philadelphia Inquirer.
- Haaris, Stephan (August 5, 1993). "Proceeds from play to go toward new center for homeless families". The San Diego Union-Tribune.
- ""Play 'Jonin' at Auditorium Friday Night". Knoxville News-Sentinel. September 5, 1993.
- "Comics lend support to Hadassah for youth education". Houston Chronicle. December 4, 1993.
- "Be Still and Know Inc: Exempt Organizations Select Check". Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved October 13, 2016.
- "Be Still and Know, Inc.". Office of the Secretary of State of California. Retrieved October 13, 2016.
- "Be Still and Know, Inc.". Florida Department of State Division of Corporations. Retrieved October 13, 2016.
- "Be Still and Know youth empowerment". Miami Times. August 21, 2001. p. 1D.
- McNeal, Natalie P. (March 31, 2004). "Author to Promote Book". The Miami Herald.
- McNeal, Natalie P. (March 31, 2004). "Author's Advice: Handle Rejection". The Miami Herald.
- Henry, Sherise (November 17, 2004). "Actor spreads message at area schools". The Daily Iberian.
- Black, Joe (January 9, 2005). "Speakers urge black youths to do better St. Augustine forum focuses on empowering young generation". The Florida Times-Union. Jacksonville, Florida.
- "Motivation Man". Mobile Register. Mobile, Alabama. April 28, 2005.
- "Through My Lens". Tommy Got a Job. April 30, 2016. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
- Foreman, Lauren; Habersham, Raisa (October 12, 2016). "Martin star Tommy Ford dies at metro Atlanta hospital". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved October 13, 2016.