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How Tom Cruise Kept His Family Afloat When His Mother Finally Left His Abusive Father
Tom Cruise Kept His Family Afloat When His Mother Left His Abusive Father
Uplifting News

How Tom Cruise Kept His Family Afloat When His Mother Finally Left His Abusive Father

A-List actor Tom Cruise, 61, is known for many things. He's A Scientologist! He's an adrenaline junkie with a taste for death-defying stunts! He's the guy with his shoes on Oprah's couch!

But where certain celebs are known for their traumatic childhoods and heroic origin stories, the controversial Cruise (born Thomas Cruise Mapother IV), keeps tight-lipped when it comes to his personal life and is lesser known for his humble beginnings.


It may seem that at 61 years old, with a staggering $600 million net worth, things came easy for the Top Gun frontman, but the truth is Tom's early life was anything but easy.

Growing Up in an Abusive Home

Before he was one of the highest grossing box office stars of all time, Tom Cruise grew up in poverty in Syracuse, New York.

Cruise is the third of mother Mary Lee Pfeiffer's four children. Growing up, Cruise along with his sisters Lee Ann Mapother DeVette, 64, Marian Mapother, 62, and Cass Mapother, 59, were tragically subjected to their father's abusive behavior.

As a child Cruise did not have a stable upbringing. His family was constantly uprooted with Cruise attending 15 schools in 14 years. Cruise's biological father, Thomas Cruise Mapother III, was an electrical engineer.

Mapother III, could never hold down a job and kept the family on the move in a restless search for work. At a young age, Cruise and his family relocated to Ottawa, Canada where Cruise lived until the 6th grade. Yet, everywhere Cruise went, his father's abuse continued, until one day, his mother Mary Lee decided she'd had enough.

“He was a bully and a coward,” Tom Cruise said of the father who beat him. “He was the kind of person where, if something goes wrong, they kick you. It was a great lesson in my life —how he’d lull you in, make you feel safe and then, bang! For me, it was like, ‘There’s something wrong with this guy. Don’t trust him. Be careful around him.’ There’s that anxiety.”

Tom Cruise, PARADE

When mother Mary Lee realized her husband's abusive behavior would never stop, she took her four children and divorced him. Mary Lee returned to the United States with her children in tow, in search of a better life, and the young Cruise was determined to help.

Supporting His Mother and Three Sisters

two men sitting on a bed with shaving cream on their faces
Jeff Rayner / Coleman-Rayner

When Tom Cruise's mother bravely divorced his father, she worked several jobs, day and night just to make ends meet and keep her family out of poverty.

Sadly, when you have five mouths to feed, it's nearly impossible to achieve financially, without help. Thankfully, as a young teenager, Tom Cruise was just the kid for the job...literally.

It should come as no surprise when his mother was struggling to tread water, Hollywood's resident stuntman jumped into action, to help his mother and three sisters stay afloat in anyway he could.

“I’ve always had a work ethic. I’ve had paying jobs since I was about eight years old — cutting grass, raking leaves, paper routes, selling Easter cards and Christmas cards.”

Tom Cruise, PLAYBOY (2012)

Cruise helped with money from a paper route he picked up. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Cruise admitted he even massaged his mother’s sore feet for half an hour, after she came home from long days at work.

Though Cruise's mother tragically passed away in February 2017, the bond between them is everlasting. Cruise is quick to praise his mother for always believing in his dreams of becoming an actor, no matter how far fetched it seemed to everyone else.

All His Hard Work Paid off in Ways He Couldn’t Imagine

Tom Cruise may have a rocky past when it comes to his romantic relationships, but when it comes to his nuclear family, Cruise has always done his best to honor his relationship with his mother and sisters.

After getting kicked off his high school football team, in his senior year, one teacher who saw potential in the young Tom Cruise, changed the course of his life with this one suggestion.

The Glee Club teacher encouraged Cruise to audition for his high school's musical production of Guys and Dolls, and scored the leading role!

"I can't describe the feeling that was there," Cruise's mother said when watching her son on opening night. "It was just an incredible experience to see what we felt was a lot of talent coming forth all of a sudden. It had been dormant for so many years — not thought of or talked about or discussed in any way," she said to Rolling Stone.

After discovering his passion for acting, Cruise asked his mother and stepfather the most crucial question of all. He wanted their blessing to pursue an acting career for the next decade, and mother Mary Lee's response couldn't have been more perfect.

"We both wholeheartedly agreed,” she told Rolling Stone. “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.”

A Mother’s Love Makes All the Difference

Throughout Tom Cruise's tumultuous journey, one constant source of strength and inspiration was the unwavering love and support of his mother, Mary Lee Pfeiffer.

Her enduring love and dedication to her children provided the anchor they needed to weather life's storms. It was her love that fueled Tom's determination to overcome adversity and create a brighter future. Tom Cruise's unparalleled work ethic, instilled by his mother's values of resilience and hard work, became a driving force in his life.

This work ethic not only propelled him to success in Hollywood but also served as a testament to the transformative power of maternal love and the unwavering belief in one's dreams, even in the face of the most challenging circumstances.

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