Thomas Sexton, actor, writer, dancer, musician (b at St. John's, NL 3 Jul 1957; d at St. John's 13 Dec 1993). Tommy Sexton was performing on stage as early as Grade 3 and continued playing in local amateur productions in St. John's until he began performing professionally. An honours student, to his teacher-parents' dismay he quit high school after the completion of Grade 10. Having done 2 successful tours with the Newfoundland Travelling Theatre Company, at 15 he departed for Toronto, where he began working at Global Village Theatre, touring shows to schools. He convinced Paul Thompson of THEATRE PASSE MURAILLE to fund a show by him and his Newfoundland friends Diane Olsen and Cathy JONES, and persuaded Greg MALONE to join them. Along with Mary WALSH, Paul Sametz and White, they wrote their critically acclaimed hit Cod on a Stick.
The show took them back to St. John's, where they engaged Robert JOY and, in their next production Sickness, Death and Beyond the Grave, Andy JONES (Sametz left the group after the Toronto show). They continued to perform together until 1977, when they disbanded. They formally regrouped (minus Joy and Olsen) for the Codco television series, which debuted in 1988 on CBC and ran for 5 seasons.
The groundbreaking, satirical sketch-comedy series introduced the rest of Canada to off-the-wall Newfoundland humour. Tommy Sexton was a consummate mimic, merciless social critic, high-end drag queen and a very intelligent performer who did wicked impersonations of Linda Evans, Tammy Faye Bakker, Barbara Walters and Pee-Wee Herman. The troupe won GEMINI AWARDS in 1994 for best performance in a comedy program and for best writing in a comedy or variety program in 1992 and 1993. In 2002, they were given the EARLE GREY AWARD for lifetime achievement by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television.
Prior to the launch of the CODCO series, Sexton and Malone were front men for the Wonderful Grand Band, which also created the variety series WGB (1980-83), and Sexton and Malone wrote and starred in 4 television specials, The S&M Comic Book (1985 and 1986). In 1992, Sexton and Malone, along with John Grey, wrote and performed in the CBC-TV special The National Doubt. In film, Sexton, with the rest of the Codco troupe, appeared in Mike Jones' The Adventure of Faustus Bidgood (released in 1986) and Sexton played a captured Russian sailor in Paul Donovan's Cold War satire, Buried on Sunday (1993).
Tommy Sexton was only 14 when he appeared in Gordon PINSENT's film The Rowdyman. He also played a local in A Whale for the Killing, the first Hollywood movie shot in Newfoundland. His is a household name in Newfoundland and several of his more notable characters, like Nanny Hynes and Dickie, have become Newfoundland folk characters recognizable to all. At the time of his death from complications due to AIDS, Tommy Sexton was in production for his own first feature-length film, Adult Children of Alcoholics, which he wrote with longtime comic partner Greg Malone.
The Sexton family has organized an annual concert fundraiser in his memory in St. John's for people living with HIV/AIDS. In 2006 The Tommy Sexton Centre, a shelter providing housing units for AIDS sufferers, was opened. In 2001, his sister, Mary Sexton, produced and co-directed the documentary Tommy - A Family Portrait for the NATIONAL FILM BOARD OF CANADA.