Although Hollywood heartthrob Tom Cruise is often hailed as one of the most eligible bachelors, to his late mother, Mary Lee Pffiefer, he was much more than that. In Mary’s eyes, he was a devoted, kind-hearted son and a supportive sibling.
For a long time, Tom made his family, particularly his beloved mother, his top priority, putting aside his own ambitions until he finally achieved fame and success. At 11, he was her biggest support when his dad left them.
Tom remains a timeless matinee idol, dazzling in the entertainment industry and gracing the screens in romantic flicks, thrilling adventures, and heart-pounding action blockbusters.
Tom was born on July 3, 1962, in Syracuse, New York, as Thomas Cruise Mapother IV. Fast forward to the 1980s, Tom broke out on the Hollywood scene as one of his time’s most sought-after leading actors. He has had several films under his name.
Tom’s acting debut was in 1981’s “Endless Love.” However, his electrifying performance as a Navy jet pilot in the highest-grossing 1986 film “Top Gun” catapulted him to superstardom. His success today is vastly different from when he was younger.
Tom’s Sacrifices and Commitment to His Family
Tom had a tumultuous upbringing. From the age of 11, Tom, his siblings, and their mother were on their own; she had three jobs, and he also got a job to help her out financially. After a hard day at work, he gave his mother foot massages and looked after her.
Tom’s family, which included his mother, Mary Lee Pfeiffer, his father, Thomas Cruise Mapother III, and his three sisters, Lee Anne, Marian, and Catherine, moved around a lot before settling in Ottawa, Canada, in 1974.
However, the family dynamic was far from stable. Mary eventually left Thomas, who was allegedly an abusive alcoholic. She moved to Louisville, Kentucky, in the United States, with her children.
Tom Cruise in 1981 in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images
In August 1975, she officially divorced Thomas. Tom was just 11 years old. Following the divorce, Thomas remarried, which caused Tom to harbor “a lot of hidden anger” as he struggled to understand why his father had left. He never saw his father again.
A few years later, Mary tied the knot with her second husband, John “Jack” South, who became Tom’s stepfather. Mary took on three part-time jobs to provide for her children and ensure they had enough to eat.
Tom, like his sisters, has formed a close relationship with his mother. Each evening, when Mary returned from work, Tom would wash her feet and give her a foot massage in the living room for thirty minutes.
Even though they got federal food stamps, they couldn’t get full welfare benefits because Mary had so many jobs. Unfortunately, the burden of work affected Mary’s health, as she suffered from a slipped disc in her back.
This injury left her in traction for eight months, and she required help from a family friend who moved in to assist with daily tasks. The store she worked for never apologized or offered her compensation.
Nevertheless, Mary never gave up and worked even harder rather than dwelling on her difficulties. Meanwhile, Tom needed to grow up quickly to help his mom and sisters.
Tom Cruise on the set of the film “The Outsiders” in 1982. | Source: Getty Images
Tom worked a few different jobs before he turned a teenager. He delivered newspapers, mowed lawns, and cleaned up the many yards of his neighbors.
He took his newfound responsibilities seriously while caring for his mother and three sisters. Although most teenage boys have little time or patience for their mothers, Tom grew close to Mary.
He spent all his income feeding his family rather than treating himself to movies and his favorite dessert. A source who was close to Tom’s family said of the hard-working actor:
“No job was too dirty or difficult for Tommy, as long as it paid money to help his mom out.”
Tom gave up his hopes of becoming an actor as his family’s needs were more important than his dreams. Mary recalled that when Tom was younger, her son would frequently act out skits and imitate famous comedians such as W.C. Fields and cartoon characters Donald Duck and Woody Woodpecker.
Tom Cruise and mother Mary Lee Pfeiffer attend the 47th Annual Golden Globe Awards at Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 20, 1990, in Beverly Hills, California. | Source: Getty Images
During that time, Mary was Tom’s “greatest audience.” Although Tom had set his dreams aside, his mother, Mary, urged him to participate in the production of “Guys and Dolls” at his high school, which he did.
He auditioned for the role of Nathan Detroit, one of the musical’s lead characters, and was quickly cast. After the play did well, he told his mother and stepfather that he would move to New York to try to make a living as an actor.
Tom had a strong desire to learn more about the world of performing instead of working odd jobs in their neighborhood. He realized it was the perfect time to follow his dream. He said:
“I want to learn about what acting is. I had this feeling of ‘Here I am 18 years old and this stuff is going on. This is what I wanted to do with my life.”
Tom gave his parents at least ten years for him to make it in the industry. Mary and John agreed to their son’s request as they recognized Tom’s “God-given talent” and the need for him to explore it.
Ever since Tom moved to New York, his life has drastically changed for the better. His career took off after he appeared in the leading role of the military-school drama “Taps” in 1981, and as it did, more doors of opportunity opened for him in the following years.
More roles cemented Tom’s A-list status in the 1986 film “The Color of Money” and the 1989 film “Born on the Fourth of July,” which earned him his first Oscar nomination. He has thrived in the industry and is now widely recognized as one of the top actors today.
Tom stands out from his peers, who have been tangled in various disputes early in their lives, by maintaining an unblemished image. He has never engaged in misconduct or battled with drug addiction or alcohol consumption.
Despite his fame, Tom has remained close to his mother and even attended red-carpet events with her. He has also developed strong relationships with his sisters. He often let his sister Catherine and her two children live in his house.
Tom has recognized that his success is due, in large part, to his mother’s advice and influence. Mary instilled in him a strong work ethic, determination, and patience, all of which have been crucial to his achievements in his chosen field.
Tom Cruise attends the “Top Gun: Maverick” Royal Film Performance at Leicester Square on May 19, 2022, in London, England. | Source: Getty Images
Tom appears to have inherited his mother’s sunny disposition, besides Mary’s impressive work ethic. He remarked that his mother was a “very warm and charismatic woman.”
Mary took great pleasure in witnessing her son’s success. When she reflected on Tom’s early days as a young actor, she said that seeing his talent, which had been laid dormant for years and never discussed thoroughly in the family, was an “incredible experience” for her.
Mary’s Last Moments: A Quiet Life and Family Support
Previously, Mary had accompanied Tom to various events as his plus one, but she eventually withdrew from the public eye due to her deteriorating health. The last time she was seen with Tom was at the Golden Globe Awards in 2009.
It was in May 2016 that Mary made a public appearance during a Mother’s Day boating trip at the public harbor in Clearwater, Florida. The trip was organized by Connor Cruise, the adopted son of Tom and his second ex-wife Nicole Kidman.
Mary’s nurses, Tom’s sister Marian, and a family friend were all in attendance at the harbor. Mary was assisted from the car to the specialized boat ramp in a wheelchair. She was seen using a breathing tube.
Despite her undisclosed medical condition, Mary appeared overjoyed to be surrounded by her family members, despite the absence of Tom, Lee Ann, and Catherine.
Although the sighting of Mary was the first time she did so after seven years, there were unverified reports that she was also spotted at a private Scientology event, on April 5, 2015, at the Celebrity Center in Hollywood.
Shortly after attending the occasion, she eventually left her assisted-living residence in Los Angeles and relocated to Florida, which is home to Scientology’s worldwide headquarters.
Tom’s sickly mom lived in a private area away from the church’s housing facilities. According to a source, she decided to live in a quiet community about a 20-minute drive from the central district, where most of Mary’s fellow church peers socialize.
Mary benefited from a quiet lifestyle and a nurse’s assistance since her husband, John, died in 2015. Tom’s stepfather passed away at 89 due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Neither Tom nor his mother attended John’s funeral at a Catholic church in Naples, Florida. The couple married in 1978 but split in 2003, around the same time she reportedly became affiliated with the mentioned religion.
Despite his busy career, Tom still took care of his mom in a wheelchair. Though many years passed since those difficult times, Tom didn’t stop caring for his mother and doing what he could so that she lived happily until her last breath.
Mary, a former special education teacher, passed away in her sleep in 2017 at 80 because of an unspecified condition she battled for years, as reported by People.
Mary was the driving force of Tom’s successful career. At Mary’s local Scientology church, Tom, his three sisters, and several other family members participated in a funeral service.
Katie Holmes Reaches Out to Tom Cruise after His Mother’s Death
Tom was reportedly devastated by the death of his mother, with whom he was extremely close. When Mary died, a few notable celebrities reached out to Tom, including his ex-wife, Katie Holmes, amid their bitter split.
He and Katie tied the knot in 2006, but after six years of marriage, they divorced in 2012, leaving Katie to raise their daughter Suri Cruise by herself. Since then, the ex-couple has kept their distance.
Although the pair kept their distance, it did not stop Katie from sympathizing with Tom. A source stated that Katie knew about Mary and how hard she worked to help Tom get ahead in show business.
The source also added, “Tom has been rocked by the loss of his mother. They were very close, and he will miss her dearly.” According to the source, Katie knew that the mother-son bond was strong in private or public events.
After her and Tom’s marriage, Katie has kept her dating life private, but one of the relationships revealed was when she reportedly dated actor Jamie Foxx in secret. Tom hasn’t been with anyone else since their split.
Amid the ups and downs of their past, Katie’s support during this challenging time meant the world to Tom. It reminded him of the love and care he received from his mother and how lucky he was to have had such a fantastic woman in his life.
Even though Tom grieved Mary’s death, he knew he had to honor his mother’s memory by carrying on with the same strength and determination she gave him.
Despite facing many challenges and hardships, Tom never gave up and continued to support his family. His mother, Mary, was the one constant in his life, and he remained devoted to her until her death.
Although he is a Hollywood star and one of the most eligible bachelors, Tom’s family will always remain the most important thing in his life. His sacrifices and devotion to his family have helped shape him into the man he is today.