Actor Thomas Mikal Ford, known to viewers of the popular '90s sitcom “Martin” as the mysteriously employed “Tommy Strawn,” died this week at age 52. Ford, who recently documented his recovery from knee surgery on social media, died after an aneurysm reportedly burst in his abdomen. The actor will be remembered by many for his role on “Martin,” but fewer may know of the role that brought him to Richmond for two days last year.
Ford played the character of James Brooks in the second season of “The Heart,” a political drama set in Richmond and airing on the local Fox affiliate. The show is based on a series of books by author Iris Bolling.
“He left such an impression on all of us,” says Bolling, who also executive produced the show. “He brought a sense of professionalism to our set. We owe a good portion of the success of Season 2 to Tommy.”
Bolling adds that Ford kept in touch after the production wrapped, making sure that she was satisfied with the outcome. Although he was only on set for a weekend last October, she says his contribution to the project is enduring.
“He didn't have to come and do the show with us. [His salary] was nowhere near what he was used to receiving, but he did it anyway,” she says. The things that that did he did for us, it’s going to last a lifetime. As a mentor I could not have asked for anyone better.”
Bolling says she isn’t sure how Ford’s death will affect the next season of “The Heart.” Ford’s IMDB page lists four other productions that were completed this year, along with three that are unfinished.
The mystery of his character’s employment on “Martin” was addressed by his co-star Tisha Campbell-Martin a few months ago. The actress mentioned two episodes in which casual references are made to Tommy’s occupation. “He was a counselor at the Boys & Girls Club,” she said on a podcast for the web site Bossip, “That’s what he did for a living.”