Heartbreaking news for Tom Cruise

By Kirstin Buick
14 February 2017

Tom Cruise's mother Mary Lee South has died.

Tom Cruise's mother Mary Lee South has died.

The superstar actor's 80-year-old mom died in her sleep after battling a long illness, according to TMZ.

Tom (54) and his sisters Lee Ann DeVette (57), Cass Mapother (55) and Marian Henry (52) attended a memorial service at her local Church of Scientology this weekend, US PEOPLE reports.

It was Mary, a special-education teacher, inspired Tom's love of acting.

“I was always interested in theater, 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.”

When Tom was growing up in New York and Ottawa, Canada, Mary encouraged him to act in plays by a local theatre group.

“I guess I was his greatest audience,” she said. “He had it in him then.”

Mary divorced Tom's dad, Thomas Cruise Mapother III, an electrical engineer, in 1974, and later remarried Jack South in 1978, when Tom was 16.

The family was incredibly close, but Mary and Tom especially so -- and Mary always knew her son was destined for the screen.

When Tom asked her and his stepdad if he could become an actor, “We both wholeheartedly agreed,” she remembered.

“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.”

Sources: TMZ, Rolling Stone, PEOPLE

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