Tom Cruise’s mother, Mary Lee South, has died. People magazine confirms the 80-year-old, who suffered health problems in recent years, died peacefully in her sleep last week.
Cruise and his three sisters – Lee Ann DeVette, Cass Mapother, and Marian Henry – all attended the memorial service at South’s local Church of Scientology.
Tom Cruise and mother Mary Lee South attend the 47th Annual Golden Globe Awards on January 20, 1990 at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)>
South was a special-education teacher and was the reason Cruise got into acting, as she always had an interest in it herself.
“I was always interested in theatre, but I never did anything with it,” she told Rolling Stone in 1986. “When I was growing up, if you went to Hollywood, that was really risqué.”
Thanks to South’s encouragement and support from her and her second husband, Cruise decided to pursue acting and went on to become one of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities.
Tom Cruise and mother Mary Lee South attend the Eighth Annual American Cinema Awards on January 12, 1991 at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
“We both wholeheartedly agreed [to let him act], because we both felt it was a God-given talent, and he should explore it because he was so enthused about it,” she told the magazine. “So to make a long story short, we gave him our blessing – and the rest is history.”
Cruise has previously called his mother his hero and the two were reportedly very close.