Tom Cruise’s mom (and former Ottawa resident) dies at 80

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 11: Actor Tom Cruise and mother Mary Lee Mapother arrive at the 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 11, 2009 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Pop Goes The News — Mary Lee South, who fled Ottawa in 1974 with her now-famous son Tom Cruise, has died at 80.

According to reports, South died in her sleep last week after a long illness.

South and Cruise’s father Thomas Mapother III moved to a home at 2116 Monson Crescent in Ottawa’s suburban Beacon Hill neighbourhood in late 1971.

She was active in the community, where she was nicknamed “Merry Mary Lee.” South worked at an Ottawa hospital and volunteered at her son’s schools, Robert Hopkins Elementary and Henry Munro Middle School.

South also co-founded a community theatre group, the Gloucester Players.

The Ottawa home where Tom Cruise (then known as Tommy Mapother) lived in the early ’70s with his mother, father and three sisters. | Google Map

But Cruise’s mother was in an abusive marriage. Early one morning in early 1974, she put her four children in the family’s station wagon and drove nearly 1,400 km from Ottawa to her native Louisville, Kentucky.

Four years after ending her marriage to Cruise’s father, Mary Lee married Jack South. They divorced in 2012 and he died three years later.

She is survived by Cruise, 54, and his sisters Marian Henry, 52, Cass Mapother, 55, and Lee Ann DeVette, 57 as well as several grandchildren.