Tom Cruise‘s mother, Mary Lee South, who had been battling various health issues, has died. She was 80.

South, a former special education teacher, died last week in her sleep due to unspecified health ailments, People reported.

Cruise frequently credited his mother for inspiring him, and applauded her for being the driving force behind his acting pursuits. In high school, she had urged him to try out for theater productions.

South had revealed in a previous interview that she also had an interest in acting, but never pursued it. “I was always interested in theatre, but I never did anything with it,” South said. “When I was growing up, if you went to Hollywood, that was really risqué.”

South went on to become a special-education teacher, and married Cruise’s father, Thomas Cruise Mapother III, an electrical engineer. However, after strains in the marriage, the pair divorced in 1974.

In 2006, Cruise described his father as “a bully.”

A service for the beloved mother was held last week, which Cruise and his three sisters attended. Cruise was his mother’s only son. The service was held at her local Church of Scientology, where Cruise has become an outspoken leader.


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