Tom Cruise's mother dies, age 80

Tom Cruise's mother, Mary Lee South, who encouraged her only son to pursue his Hollywood dreams, has died. She was 80.

People reported she died last week in her sleep at her home following unspecified health issues. A representative for Cruise, Amanda Lundberg, confirmed her death to USA TODAY and said the People account of her passing was accurate.

A memorial service at her local Church of Scientology took place this weekend. Cruise, 54, was there along with his three sisters, Lee Ann DeVette, 57, Cass Mapother, 55, and Marian Henry, 52, along with other family and friends.

Cruise and his mother were close; she believed he got his passion for acting from her, a theater lover who never pursued her dreams. She urged him to try out for high school theater productions.

Mary Lee Pfeiffer was a Louisville, Ky, native who was a teacher when she married Cruise's father, Thomas Cruise Mapother III. The marriage was unhappy and broke up and she remarried, to Cruise's stepfather, Jack South.

Mapother died in 1984 of complications related to cancer.

When Cruise later approached his mother and stepfather seeking approval and time to pursue an acting career, “We both wholeheartedly agreed,” she told Rolling Stone in 1986.

“Because we both felt it was a God-given talent…So to make a long story short, we gave him our blessing — and the rest is history.”

2017 USA Today


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