Thomas Mikal Ford

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Thomas Mikal Ford
Ford in Harlem Nights, 1989
Born(1964-09-05)September 5, 1964
DiedOctober 12, 2016(2016-10-12) (aged 52)
Other namesTommy Ford
EducationUniversity of Southern California
  • Actor
  • comedian
Years active1984–2016
Known forThomas "Tommy" Strawn – Martin
Gina Sasso
(m. 1997; div. 2014)

Thomas Mikal Ford (September 5, 1964 – October 12, 2016) was an American actor and comedian. He was best known for his role as Thomas "Tommy" Strawn[2] on the FOX sitcom Martin which originally aired from 1992 until 1997. He also had a recurring role as Mel Parker in the UPN sitcom The Parkers from 1999 until 2001. He was also known for his role as Lt. Malcolm Barker on New York Undercover, which also aired on FOX for its final season.

Early life and education[edit]

Ford was born in Los Angeles[3] and raised in Long Beach, California.[4] 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.[5] After earning Associate of Arts degree from Long Beach City College in 1985,[6] Ford transferred to the University of Southern California, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in acting.[5]


On Martin, Ford played Tommy Strawn; for this role, he received an NAACP Image Awards nomination in 1996 in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.[7]

After Martin ended, Ford found success in the detective drama New York Undercover as Lieutenant Malcolm Barker.[8] He appeared on the UPN sitcom The Parkers[9] 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.[10] 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?[3] In feature films, Ford appeared in the Kid 'n Play movie Class Act as "Mink".[4] In Harlem Nights, he played Tommy Smalls, the brother of Arsenio Hall's character.[11] 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.[12] The play was performed at the Los Angeles Ebony Showcase Theatre, the oldest black theater in the country.[4] Ford chose the Ebony Showcase in order to raise money for the theater, which was in danger of closing.[4] The same year, he directed the play Jonin', a comedy about fraternity life at a historically black college in Washington, D.C.[13]

Ford co-hosted the Texas Gospel Music Awards in 1993 with singer Yolanda Adams and actor Troy Curvey.[14] In 1998, Ford founded a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization called Be Still and Know.[15][16][17] The organization's mission was to build better communities for youth.[3][18]

Ford wrote two inspirational books for children, titled Positive Attitude and I Am Responsible for Me.[19][20] Ford spent time traveling to schools to inspire and empower children, and encourage responsibility.[21][22][23] In June 2016 (four months before his death), Ford directed a documentary on bullying, entitled Through My Lens Atl; it aired in October 2016, on Aspire TV.[24]

Personal life and death[edit]

Ford was married to Gina Sasso from 1997 to 2014. They had two children. Ford moved from Los Angeles to Kendall, Florida around 2001. In 2015, Ford moved to Atlanta where he lived with his girlfriend Viviane Brazil.[5] Ford died from a ruptured abdominal aneurysm on October 12, 2016 at a hospital in the Atlanta area. He was 52.[25]

Major roles in television and film[edit]

  • A Different World (1989, TV Series) – Lamar Collins
  • Nasty Boys (1989, TV Movie) – Pay Day
  • Harlem Nights (1989) – Tommy Smalls
  • Q&A (1990) – Lubin
  • Across the Tracks (1990) – Coach Walsh
  • Uncle Buck (1990, TV Series) – Rafer Freeman
  • The Flash (1991, TV Series) – Elliot Cotrell
  • The Butcher's Wife (1991) – Transvestite
  • MacGyver (1991) – Concasseur
  • Brain Donors (1992) – Cop
  • Class Act (1992) – Mink
  • Martin (1992–1997, TV Series) – Thomas "Tommy" Strawn
  • Living Single (1993, TV Series) – Michael Edwards
  • Mr. Jones (1993) – Arnie / Violent Patient
  • The Kangaroo (1995)
  • Against the Law (1997) – Det. Siegel
  • New York Undercover (1998–1999, TV Series) – Lt. Malcolm Barker
  • The Jamie Foxx Show (1999, TV Series) – Marcus
  • The Parkers (1999–2001, TV Series) – Mel Parker
  • Who's Got Jokes? (2006–2008, TV Series) – Pope of Comedy
  • City Teacher (2007)
  • House (2007, TV Series) — Scott, Patients' Father
  • Baby Mama's Club (2010) – James
  • Let's Stay Together (2011, TV Series) – The Reverend
  • Switchin' the Script (2012) – Mr. Bostick
  • The Good Ole Days (2012) – Renaldo
  • The Fate of Love (2012) – Jason
  • No More Games (2012) – Hunter
  • Highway (2012) – Detective Smith
  • Who Did I Marry? (2013) – Terrance
  • Dreams (2013) – Detective Jackson
  • Douglass U (2013) – Mr. Johnson
  • At Mamu's Feet (2013) – Raymond Gaines
  • 4Play (2014) – Nathaniel
  • For Love or Money (2014) – Russell
  • Unspoken Words (2014) – Terrance
  • Could This Be Love (2014) – Carvin
  • First Impression (2014) – Tommy
  • Breeze (2014) – Mr. Thomas
  • Big Losers (2014) – Jamaican Hard Worker
  • Every Family Has Problems (2015) – Jerome
  • Love Different (2016) – Mr. Chamberlain
  • Blues for Life (2016) – Detective Jones
  • The Last Time (2016) – Chief Winston
  • Conflict of Interest'' (2017) – Jordan Winters
  • The Ballerina (2017) — Etienne Magloire
  • Fade Away (2018) – Fingers
  • He Watches Over Me (2018) – James


  1. ^ NNDB - Thomas Mikal Ford
  2. ^ Izadi, Elahe. "Tommy Ford's job status on 'Martin' was among the best running jokes on television". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2021-03-22.
  3. ^ a b c "Davison Lecture Series Begins with Hollywood Actor". Infoweb Targeted News Service. September 9, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d Knott, Tony P. (July 21, 1993). "Kickin' It With Tommy". Press-Telegram. Long Beach, California.
  5. ^ a b c Salazar, Carolyn (September 16, 2001). "Ford's Dedication to Helping Kids Prosper is No Act". The Miami Herald.
  6. ^ Pack, Susan (October 21, 1995). "LBCC to Honor 4 Alumni". Press-Telegram. Long Beach, California.
  7. ^ "Remembering Tommy Ford". Socialbilitty. October 13, 2016. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  8. ^ "'Friends' an Emmy Nominee for All of About Five Minutes". Daily News. July 25, 1997.
  9. ^ "Who's showing up for May sweeps?". Mobile Register. Mobile, Alabama. April 27, 2000.
  10. ^ "Power of Passion Reviews". YouTube. April 14, 2013. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  11. ^ Campbell, Roy H. (December 3, 1989). "Jasmine Guy on Her Way". The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  12. ^ Haaris, Stephan (August 5, 1993). "Proceeds from play to go toward new center for homeless families". The San Diego Union-Tribune.
  13. ^ ""Play 'Jonin' at Auditorium Friday Night". Knoxville News-Sentinel. September 5, 1993.
  14. ^ "Comics lend support to Hadassah for youth education". Houston Chronicle. December 4, 1993.
  15. ^ "Be Still and Know Inc: Exempt Organizations Select Check". Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved October 13, 2016.
  16. ^ "Be Still and Know, Inc". Office of the Secretary of State of California. Archived from the original on March 15, 2015. Retrieved October 13, 2016.
  17. ^ "Be Still and Know, Inc". Florida Department of State Division of Corporations. Retrieved October 13, 2016.
  18. ^ "Be Still and Know youth empowerment". Miami Times. August 21, 2001. p. 1D.
  19. ^ McNeal, Natalie P. (March 31, 2004). "Author to Promote Book". The Miami Herald.
  20. ^ McNeal, Natalie P. (March 31, 2004). "Author's Advice: Handle Rejection". The Miami Herald.
  21. ^ Henry, Sherise (November 17, 2004). "Actor spreads message at area schools". The Daily Iberian.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ "Motivation Man". Mobile Register. Mobile, Alabama. April 28, 2005.
  24. ^ "Through My Lens". Tommy Got a Job. April 30, 2016. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  25. ^ Foreman, Lauren; Habersham, Raisa (October 12, 2016). "Martin star Tommy Ford dies at metro Atlanta hospital". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved October 13, 2016.

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