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)
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] In 1997, he played Detective Siegel in the crime drama Against the Law.

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 years old.[25]


Film and TV Movies[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1985 Deathly Realities Hubert/Dr. Russell Short
1989 Nasty Boys Payday TV movie
Harlem Nights Tommy Smalls
1990 Q&A Lubin
Across the Tracks Coach Walsh
1991 The Butcher's Wife Transvestite
1992 Brain Donors Cop
Class Act Mink
Night and the City Herman
1993 Mr. Jones Arnie/Violent Patient
1995 The Kangaroo -
1997 Against the Law Det. Siegel
2000 His Woman, His Wife - Video
2004 He Say... She Say... But What Does GOD Say? Deacon Witherspoon Video
2005 On the Low Ron Davis Short
Hitched Gideon TV movie
2007 City Teacher -
2008 The Club Rev. Holmes Short
Stitches Train Station Man Short
2009 Love Ain't Suppose to Hurt 2: The Wedding Eugene Video
2010 Baby Mama's Club James
2012 Sugar Mommas Quinton TV movie
Switchin' the Script Mr. Bostick
The Good Ole Days Renaldo
The Fate of Love Jason
To Love and to Cherish Steve TV movie
No More Games Hunter
The Chronicles of Nathan Gregory Mr. Sereph Short
A Boost of Love Security Guard Short
Hillbilly Highway Detective Smith
2013 Who Did I Marry? Terrance
Dreams Detective Jackson
The Perfekt Plan Bone Short
In the Meantime Clay TV movie
Douglass U Mr. Johnson
At Mamu's Feet Raymond Gaines
2014 4Play Nathaniel
For Love or Money Russell
Where's the Love? Husband #1 TV movie
Unspoken Words Terrance
Could This Be Love Carvin
First Impression Tommy
Breeze Mr. Thomas
Her Eyez Harvey Short
In God's Hands Pastor Frank TV movie
Big Losers Jamaican Hard Worker
2015 Blaq Gold Judge Andrew Billups TV movie
Every Family Has Problems Jerome
2016 Love Different Mr. Chamberlain
Addiction by Subtraction Mr. James Video
Wounded Father Lawton Short
Blues for Life Detective Jones
The Last Time Chief Winston
Beat Street Chief Carey Sommers Video
2017 Conflict of Interest Jordan Winters
The Ballerina Etienne Magloire
2018 Fade Away Fingers
He Watches Over Me James


Year Title Role Notes
1987 Kate & Allie Cop Episode: "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?"
1989 A Different World Lamar Collins Episode: "The Thing About Women"
Booker Mickey Maxwell Episode: "Wheels and Deals: Part 1"
1990 Nasty Boys Payday Episode: "The Good, the Bad, and the Nasty"
Singer & Sons Reggie Patterson Main Cast
Equal Justice Ernie Pearl Episode: "Separate Lives"
Law & Order Harry Pincher Episode: "The Reaper's Helper"
Uncle Buck Rafer Freeman Recurring cast
1991 The Flash Elliot Cotrell Episode: "Beat the Clock"
Baby Talk Newborn Baby (voice) Episode: "Womb with a View"
Veronica Clare - Episode: "Slow Violence"
MacGyver Concasseur Episode: "Walking Dead"
1992–97 Martin Thomas "Tommy" Strawn Main Cast
1993 Living Single Michael Edwards Episode: "Whose Date Is It Anyway?"
1998–99 New York Undercover Lt. Malcolm Barker Main Cast: Season 4
1999 The Jamie Foxx Show Marcus Episode: "Homie, Lover, Friend"
1999–01 The Parkers Mel Parker Recurring cast: Season 1-2
2000 The Pretender Pastor Jones Episode: "Ghosts from the Past"
2001 Judging Amy Mr. Crow Episode: "Redheaded Stepchild"
2002 The Proud Family Mr. Webb (voice) Episode: "I Had a Dream"
2006–08 Who's Got Jokes? Pope of Comedy Recurring cast
2007 House Scott Episode: "Family"
2010 Lens on Talent Train Station Man Episode: "Comedy and Producing a Film"
2011 Templeton Pride Carter Franklin Episode: "Open for Business"
Let's Stay Together Minister Episode: "Together, Forever-Ever?"
2016 Zoe Ever After James Johnson Episode: "2 Weddings and an Ass Whooping"
2017 Beauty and the Baller - Recurring cast


  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.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  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. Archived from the original on October 15, 2016. Retrieved October 13, 2016.

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