July 3, 1957
St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
December 13, 1993 (aged 36)|
St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
Educated in St. John's, he was an honours student before quitting after Grade 10 to pursue an acting career in Toronto. After briefly working on a children's touring theatre show, he landed his first television role in the drama series Police Surgeon. Sexton and colleague Diane Olsen subsequently wrote Cod on a Stick, a comedic play which launched CODCO.
In 1975, Sexton took a brief sabbatical from CODCO to study at the Toronto Dance Theatre. He subsequently returned, working on other shows with CODCO and subsequently touring with colleague Greg Malone in two co-written works, The Wonderful Grand Band and Two Foolish to Talk About. In 1985 and 1986, Sexton and Malone wrote and performed in a series of television specials for the CBC, called The S and M Comic Book, which in turn led to CODCO landing its own series in 1987.
After CODCO's run concluded in 1992, Sexton and Malone wrote and starred in a CBC television special, The National Doubt, satirizing the constitutional debates of the early 1990s. Sexton subsequently wrote a semi-autobiographical film, Adult Children of Alcoholics: The Musical, which was in production in November 1993 when Sexton, who was openly gay, fell ill due to complications from AIDS. He died on December 13 of that year.
Malone subsequently campaigned for HIV and AIDS education in Sexton's memory. His sister, filmmaker Mary Sexton, produced a documentary film about him, Tommy...A Family Portrait, in 2001. Along with Malone and their CODCO co-star Andy Jones, Sexton was a posthumous recipient of the Earle Grey Award, the lifetime achievement award of Canadian television's Gemini Awards, in 2002.
The Tommy Sexton Centre, a new assisted housing complex for people living with HIV and AIDS, was opened in St. John's in 2006. In 2009, several drag queens in the city put together "Ravishing in Red", a tribute show to Sexton, as a fundraiser for the Sexton Centre. One performer, Betty "Boo" Kakke, singled him out as Newfoundland's "clown prince".
Sexton's mother, Sara Sexton, became a major figure in HIV/AIDS awareness in Newfoundland and Labrador following her son's death. Sara Sexton was announced as an inductee to the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2013, and was inducted in February 2014.
- Tommy Sexton, archived from the original (– Scholar search) on August 8, 2007, retrieved 2007-09-06
- "Sexton Tribute", NOW Magazine Online Edition, 21 (10), 2001-11-08, retrieved 2015-10-27
- "Our Collection: Tommy...A Family Portrait", NFB, retrieved 2007-09-06
- "AIDS centre keeps Sexton's memory alive". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 16 September 2006. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
- New Short Term Shelter Opening Soon, 2006-09-06, archived from the original on 2007-09-27, retrieved 2007-09-06
- "Queens pay tribute to clown prince". The Telegram, December 21, 2009.
- "A cause close to her heart; Sara Sexton continues AIDS awareness crusade". The Western Star. 22 September 2008. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
- "92-year-old HIV/AIDS advocate remembers son, Tommy Sexton". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2 May 2015. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
- "Rick Hillier among inductees to Order of N.L." Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 24 December 2013. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
- "Province honours 7 with Order of Newfoundland and Labrador". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 8 February 2014. Retrieved 15 December 2015.