Actor Thomas Mikal Ford endeared himself to millions of fans as the character Thomas “Tommy” Strawn in the hit 1990s TV show “Martin.”
“Martin” also starred Martin Lawrence (Martin), Tisha Campbell-Martin (Gina), Tichina Arnold (Pam), and Carl Anthony Payne II (Cole). The show ran from 1992 to 1997, and Ford continued his career in Hollywood after it ended, acting in numerous projects.
He suddenly died at the age of 52 on Oct. 12, 2016.
Here are 13 things to know about Thomas Ford.
1. Thomas Ford: his death
Ford died unexpectedly at an Atlanta hospital. The cause of death is reportedly a ruptured abdominal aneurysm. A week before he died, Ford had undergone knee replacement surgery, according to his Instagram account.
2. What is an abdominal aneurysm?
An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a condition is mainly found in men over age 60 with additional risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, Black Doctor reported. Aneurysms are usually linked to the brain and occur when the blood vessel wall in the brain is weakened and bulges out.
An abdominal aortic aneurysm can develop suddenly with warning signs that include intense and persistent abdominal or back pain that may radiate to the buttocks and legs, sweating and clamminess, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, rapid heart rate and shortness of breath.
An abdominal aortic aneurysm is caused by a weakness in the wall of the aorta. The No. 1 risk factor is smoking. Smokers die four times more often from a ruptured aneurysm than non-smokers, according to South Valley Vascular. Abdominal aortic aneurysms occur in men more often than women.
3. Thomas Ford: his life
Thomas Ford was born Sept. 5, 1964, in Los Angeles and raised in Long Beach, California. His mother worked as a school secretary and his father was a pipe fitter. Ford took drama lessons and started acting in high school plays. After earning an associate of arts degree from Long Beach City College in 1985, he transferred to the University of Southern California, where he graduated with a bachelor of fine arts in acting.
4. Acting was a 2nd choice for Thomas Ford
As a child, Ford said he wanted to be a preacher but he caught the acting bug while in high school, according to reports.
5. TV roles
Ford had a number of roles on TV. He played Mel Parker in “The Parkers,” a UPN sitcom, from 1999 until 2001. He was also known for his role as Lt. Malcolm Barker on the popular series “New York Undercover.”
He was also known as “The Pope of Comedy” due to exposure as a judge on the TV One standup comedy competition show, “Bill Bellamy’s Who’s Got Jokes?”
6. Tommy Ford on ‘Martin’
Ford was best known for his role as Tommy in the ensemble cast of “Martin.” He appeared in 132 episodes of the show, its entire run. For his role, Ford received an NAACP Image Awards nomination in 1996 in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.
7. ‘You ain’t got no job’
A recurring joke on “Martin” involved Tommy’s employment status. None of the charters ever knew how Tommy made money and whenever he would mention his mysterious job, he was met with the comeback, “You ain’t got no job.”
Besides being a stable on TV, Ford appeared in 75 films.
He starred alongside Eddie Murphy, Redd Foxx, and Richard Pryor in 1989’s “Harlem Nights” as Tommy Smalls. He played the hilarious thug in 1992’s “Class Act” with Kid ‘N Play. Other films included “Against the Law” (1997), “Baby Mama’s Club” (2010) and “Love Different” (2016).
9. Tommy Ford as motivational speaker
10. Tommy Ford for the kids
In 1998, Ford founded a 501(c)(3) nonprofit called Be Still and Know, focused on building better communities for youth.
Ford wrote two inspirational books for children, “Positive Attitude” and “I Am Responsible for Me.” He wanted his children’s books to promote healthy, spiritual and nonviolent living, The New York Times reported.
In June 2016, four months before his death, Ford directed a documentary on bullying, “Through My Lens Atl“. It aired in October 2016 on Aspire TV.
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 74: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin returns for a new season of the GHOGH podcast to discuss Bitcoin, bubbles, and Biden. He talks about the risk factors for Bitcoin as an investment asset including origin risk, speculative market structure, regulatory, and environment. Are broader financial markets in a massive speculative bubble?
12. Life in theater
In 1993, Ford directed and produced the play “South of Where We Live,” which is about six African-American professionals who return to the communities where they were raised and are confronted by social issues. The play was performed at the Los Angeles Ebony Showcase Theatre. That same year, he directed the play “Jonin’,” a comedy about fraternity life at a historically Black college in Washington, D.C.
13. Thomas Ford and family
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, he moved to Atlanta where he lived with his girlfriend Viviane Brazil.