Read Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography Online

Authors: Andrew Morton

Tags: #Biography & Autobiography, #Entertainment & Performing Arts

Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography

Meet Tom Cruise…

“I get it. He has that deliciously indescribable magic that cannot be analyzed or replicated. He is in every sense a movie star.”

—Steven Spielberg

“He was pushing limits all the time…. I never thought of him ever becoming an actor. He was more of an Al Capone character, a maverick, the kind of kid who wouldn’t back down.”

—A childhood neighbor

“Don’t let that smile and those teeth fool you. He could have a really nasty streak.”

—A high-school girlfriend

“His acting was so good it was almost bizarre. You’d look into his eyes and he’d really be there, he’d really be in love with you. You could see his heart and soul. And then the director would shout ‘Cut,’ Tom would leave the set, and you’d have to go into therapy for six months.”

—Renée Zellweger

“I’ll bet all the money I’ve ever made, plus his, that he doesn’t have a mistress, that he doesn’t have a gay lover, that he doesn’t have a gay life.”

—Nicole Kidman

“You can’t drive past an accident, because as a Scientologist you are the only one who can help.”

—Tom Cruise




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St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Table of Contents




Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13



Select Bibliography



If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”



Copyright © 2008 by Andrew Morton.

Cover photo © Rene Johnston/
Toronto Star
/Zuma Press.

All rights reserved.

For information address St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.

ISBN: 0-312-94337-7

EAN: 978-0-312-94337-0

Printed in the United States of America

St. Martin’s Press hardcover edition/January 2008

St. Martin’s Paperbacks edition / February 2009

St. Martin’s Paperbacks are published by St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.

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For Max and new beginnings


If truth be told, Tom Cruise Mapother IV has always been something of a ladies’ man. Sweethearts, girlfriends, lovers, and wives; it has been a rare day in his life when he has not been wooing, wowing, or wedded to a young woman. In fact, he first walked down the aisle when he was just eleven in an impromptu ceremony under the spreading oak tree in his school playground. There is no record of who officiated or whether there were bridesmaids or even a best man, but the bride, a pretty, open-faced girl with a halo of blond ringlets, felt sufficiently confident of their plighted troth to sign herself Rowan Mapother Hopkins when she autographed her school friends’ yearbooks.

Maybe it was a dash of Irish blarney in his soul, as much as his winning smile, that made him so popular with the ladies. There is Celtic ancestry—albeit of confused genealogy and origin—on both sides of his family. Some historians assert that the first member of the Mapother clan to set foot in the New World was an Irish engineer named Dillon Henry Mapother. He was the younger of two sons, age just eighteen, who left his home in southeast Ireland in 1849 to escape famine and poverty. This is endorsed by the passenger list on the ship
, which docked in New York on June 2, 1849. A certain Dillon Mapother, who listed his occupation as engineer, was one of the many seeking a new life in the New World. Other genealogists, notably used by the TV show
Inside the Actors Studio
, tell a different story. They claim that the same Dillon Henry Mapother was a Welshman, from Flint in north Wales, who had arrived in America several decades earlier, in 1816. All are agreed that he settled in Louisville, Kentucky, and married a woman named Mary Cruise, who bore him six children. Tragically, Dillon Mapother, by now a surveyor, died of a severe case of food poisoning in 1874, leaving Mary, then only thirty-one, to bring up her large brood alone.

She was not on her own for long, meeting Thomas O’Mara, who made a decent living in the town as a wholesaler of chemist supplies. While he was born around 1835 in Kentucky, as his name suggested, the O’Mara family hailed from Ireland. The couple married in February 1876 and promptly started a family. Their first son, Thomas O’Mara, was born just over nine months later, on December 29. In the 1880 census, the toddler was still called Thomas O’Mara and was listed as living with his parents and two half brothers, Wible and deHenry, who were both still at school, and a half sister, Dellia, then eighteen, who worked as a store clerk. Mysteriously, at some point during his childhood, Thomas O’Mara’s name was changed to Thomas Cruise Mapother. Perhaps it was to give him the same surname as his half brothers and sisters, or his parents later divorced and his mother altered Thomas’s name, but as genealogist William Addams Reitwiesner noted, “The reasons for him changing his name are not entirely clear.” Indeed, this confusing family tree could serve as a metaphor for the actor’s own contradictory and elusive history.

So while the family name of Mapother seems to be Irish rather than Welsh in origin, the actor’s paternal bloodline can be traced back to the O’Mara clan from Ireland. Yet Mapother the surname stayed, and for the next four generations the actor’s father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all named Thomas Cruise Mapother.

Not only did they keep the same name, they lived in the same place, putting down deep roots in the rich Kentucky soil. Over the years the Mapothers, from both the O’Mara and
Mapother bloodlines, produced an array of well-to-do professional men: mainly lawyers, but also engineers, scientists—and even a railway president.

The first Thomas Cruise Mapother (born Thomas O’Mara) went on to become one of the youngest attorneys in Louisville. He married Anna Stewart Bateman, who bore him two sons, Paul and Thomas Cruise Mapother II. “They were a good, solid family, pillars of Louisville society and very loyal and dependable,” recalled Caroline Mapother, a family cousin.

His younger son, Thomas Cruise Mapother II, born in 1908, followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a lawyer and later a circuit court judge and a well-known Republican Party activist. After his marriage to Catherine Reibert, the couple went on to have two boys. His younger son, William—father of the actor William Mapother—became an attorney, bankruptcy consultant, and judge like his father, while his elder son, Thomas, born in 1934, inherited the family’s inquisitive scientific bent. His cousin Dillon Mapother, formerly associate vice chancellor for research at the University of Illinois, is probably the best-known scientist in the family, his work on superconductivity and solid-state physics earning him a considerable reputation. The professor’s academic papers alone take up 8.3 cubic feet in the college library.

As a teenager, Thomas Mapother III continued that tradition. After graduating in the early 1950s from St. Xavier’s, a private Catholic school in Louisville that has been the alma mater to generations of Mapother boys, he went on to study electrical engineering at the University of Kentucky. At the time it was viewed as one of the better colleges in the country, but was mainly for white kids—the university was not desegregated until 1954. After graduating in the mid-1950s, he started seriously courting an attractive brunette, Mary Lee Pfeiffer, who was two years younger and had a family history equally established in Jefferson County, Kentucky. Like her future husband, she could trace her lineage back to Ireland and her roots in Louisville to the early nineteenth century. Her father, Charles, had died in March 1953, so only her mother, Comala, who lived to the ripe old age of ninety-two,
and her brother Jack were present to watch the twenty-one-year-old walk down the aisle at a Catholic church in Jefferson County just a few days after Christmas Day, on December 28, 1957.

For a young electrical engineer like Thomas Mapother, it was an exciting time. Recruited by the giant General Electric Corporation, he apparently took a keen interest in the development of laser technology, which had just been introduced in a paper by scientists Charles Townes and Arthur Schawlow in 1958, their pioneering work ultimately revolutionizing the world of medicine and communications. “Thomas was fascinated by technological developments of the day,” Professor Dillon Mapother later observed. “He spent every waking moment on new projects.” While he was establishing himself in his new corporation, it was not long before the newlyweds began a family: four children born in just four years. Their first child, Lee Anne, was born in 1959 in Louisville, their second, Marian, two years later, after the family had moved to Syracuse, New York. Thomas Cruise Mapother IV was born on July 3, 1962—the day before Independence Day. His younger sister, Catherine—known as Cass—who was named after her paternal grandmother, arrived a year later.

It did not escape notice that with his dark hair, strong jaw, straight nose, blue eyes, pouchy dimpled cheeks, and slim, well-proportioned features, together with a winning smile, little Tom was very much his mother’s son. The two developed an intensely close bond of mutual love and admiration, an adoration he has never been shy of expressing. “My mother is a very warm, charismatic woman, very kind, very generous,” he later told TV interviewer James Lipton. As the only boy in the family, he found himself doted on by his sisters as well as his mother.

A young child with a vivid imagination—often caught daydreaming instead of helping his mom—he was constantly creating his own real-life adventures, eagerly exploring the domain beyond his backyard on his tricycle. At times his daring spirit caused a degree of consternation in the Mapother household, the youngster regularly having to be gently coaxed
down by his mother from the trees he had climbed. It did not help his mother’s equanimity that he dreamed of emulating his hero, G.I. Joe, a plastic action man who came complete with a parachute. Then only three or four years old, he achieved his ambition with potentially tragic results. He remembers pulling the sheets from his bed, using monkey bars to climb onto the garage roof, and then jumping off. “I knocked myself out. I was laying there looking at stars,” he later recalled.

Even as early as the tender age of four, he daydreamed of becoming an actor. “It just evolved,” he once recalled, and it was no surprise that from a young age he was fascinated by the drama, action, and adventure of the movies. A family treat was to go to a drive-in, buy popcorn, and let young Tom lie on top of the station wagon to watch the film. He was mesmerized by the wartime yarn
Lawrence of Arabia
, even though nothing in his young life enabled him to grasp the notion of an endless rolling desert. Around the dinner table he enjoyed performing, making his family laugh with impersonations of cartoon characters like Woody Woodpecker and Donald Duck. Later he graduated to the voices of Elvis Presley, Humphrey Bogart, and James Cagney. His mother, who had a love of theater, encouraged Tom and his sisters to perform skits she had written.

In some ways his early experience of school was a more painful adventure than jumping off the roof. When he was still a toddler, the family moved frequently, living for a time in New Jersey, then moving to St. Louis, Missouri, and returning to New Jersey when he was six. In 1969 he was at the Packanack Elementary School in Wayne Township. It soon became apparent to his teachers that young Tom was struggling to learn the rudiments of reading. He felt humiliated and frustrated, embarrassed every time he was called upon to read aloud in class. It was not long before he was diagnosed as suffering from dyslexia, a learning disability that apparently affected his mother and, to a greater or lesser degree, his three sisters. Dyslexics find it difficult to distinguish letters, form words, spell, or read with any degree of comprehension. Even
though sufferers are of average or above-average intelligence, this invisible handicap, if unrecognized, can produce deep psychological trauma, notably a sense of isolation, inadequacy, and low self-esteem.

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