Published: Tue, February 14, 2017
Culture | By Ray Hoffman

Tom Cruise's mother dies at 80

Tom Cruise's mother dies at 80

TOM Cruise's mum - who he once heralded as the "driving force" behind his Hollywood career - has died aged 80 after years of struggling with ill health.

The former special education teacher died in her sleep last week, and a memorial service was held at her local Church of Scientology this weekend. Per People, South had a memorial service at her local Church of Scientology over the weekend of February 11, which Cruise and his three sisters, Lee Ann DeVette, Cass Mapother, and Marian Henry all attended. "Then to see him on that stage..."

"I guess I was his greatest audience", she told Rolling Stone in a 1986 profile about Cruise.

ET talked to Cruise at the Jack Reacher premiere in October, when he talked about his mother's unwavering belief in him.

It was South, born Mary Lee Pfeiffer in Louisville, Kentucky, who encouraged her son to act.

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. Cruise told PEOPLE in 2006 that his father was "a bully".

Mary raised Tom and his sisters in a number of places including Syracuse, New York and Canada as they moved around a lot for his father, Thomas Mapother, to work.

The close mother-son relationship continued as he became a box-office star.

She was pictured for the first time in seven years last year in Florida on a Mother's Day outing. Because we felt it was a God-given talent ... When he asked if he could be an actor, we wholeheartedly agreed.

"To make a long story short, we gave him our blessing", she said.

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