Written by | Ray Cornelius
Atlanta’s entertainment community was stunned Wednesday evening when it was reported that beloved “Martin” actor Tommy Ford had passed away from an aneurysm ruptured in his abdomen. According to several sources including TMZ, Ford had been admitted to a local hospital over the weekend and was on life support until his family removed him. He was only 52-years-old.
It was equally as shocking for those of us who work at Clark Atlanta University’s Mass Media Arts Department because we had just seen Ford earlier this year mentoring underprivileged youth as part of the “Through My Lens” Atlanta program. The project, which was spearheaded by the actor, is part of a national initiative that offers inner city youth the opportunity to become production assistants. Ford taught the students how to work on a set and all of the responsibilities of a television and film professional. CAU’s Dr. Shawn Bulloch, who worked alongside the actor during the 12-week program, was still in shock when I talked to him Wednesday night about the passing of his friend.
“I saw a man who was a humanitarian, who cared for young Black males, in terms of their mobility and what he could instill in them outside of the industry. I got to see a very genuine man who touched me in a very, very deep way. I’m literally crushed that he is gone.”
Ford was still an actor in high demand and had appeared in a number of recent television shows and films including “Zoe Ever After,” “In the Meantime,” and “Where’s the Love?” I even got a chance to chat with him at a premiere party about his role as “Tommy” on the hit 90’s series “Martin.” We laughed a bit as he shared with me that his most “memorable” episode was the one that involved the stolen portable CD and Martin accusing his girlfriend Gina and his friends—Tommy, Cole and Pam—of taking it. The hilariously funny episode also featured Martin reenacting the famous table scene from “New Jack City” while dragging around a fake Rottweiler. According to Ford, it was very hard for him and his co-stars to keep a straight face during taping and was one episode that still made him laugh.
The last photograph I took of Ford was this past March during the Atlanta screening of the award winning FX series “The People V. O.J. Simpson.” John Singleton had directed an episode and was in town promoting it at Morehouse College with the show’s stars Cuba Gooding Jr. and Sterling K. Brown. Ford stopped by to see his friend, Singleton and was all smiles that night. He also took pictures and a few selfies with some of the students.
Check out a video of Ford below discussing his “Through My Lens Program” on Atlanta’s CBS 46 and that “Martin” episode that he enjoyed filming. #RIP Tommy Ford
Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com