Cold-hearted Tom Cruise turned his back as his elderly stepfather lay on his deathbed – and then callously ditched the funeral!
The National ENQUIRER has learned the actor failed to visit John “Jack” South as he valiantly battled a chronic disease during the last weeks of his life.
The 89-year-old World War II veteran passed away July 25 in a second-rate Florida hospice.
Astonishingly, neither Tom – nor his mother – attended Jack’s Aug. 7 funeral!
Jack was married to Tom’s mother, Mary Lee, for 32 years, and helped fund Tom’s acting dreams.
But an investigation by The ENQUIRER can exclusively reveal:
– Jack filed for divorce from Mary Lee in 2010, declaring in court papers the marriage was “irretrievably broken.”
– Divorce documents listed Mary Lee’s address as a building owned by the controversial Church of Scientology in Clearwater, Fla.
– Tom’s mother actually abandoned her husband several years earlier, relocating to Los Angeles for a life in the religion widely viewed as a cult.
– Jack flat-out refused to become a Scientologist, and his opposition to join the besieged religion would have forced Mary Lee to cut all ties with him, according to experts.
Jack – once described by Tom as a “wise, smart man” – spoke exclusively to The ENQUIRER two weeks before his death in an emotional interview during which he opened up about his world-famous stepson.
“I knew him before he was Tom,” a dying and distraught Jack said from his hospital bed.
Asked if Tom had visited since his health worsened, he said: “No. It’s been a while. I’d rather not go into that because I take care of myself the best I can.”
Jack was admitted to the hospital July 3, telling friends he feared being diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which makes breathing difficult.
But he added Tom was unlikely to know about his condition. “I don’t want to bother him with it,” said Jack.
Asked if he bore a grudge against the church, he said: “Things just worked out that way. What are you going to do?”
Sadly, Tom was once so close to Jack that he saved him from a cruel death. In 2003, Tom rushed Jack to the hospital when his stepdad suffered a kidney scare while Tom was filming in New Zealand.
The “Top Gun” hero quickly packed his entire family into a car and headed to the New Plymouth hospital emergency room.
A source said at the time: “In the days after his renal failure, Jack rebounded fast – and doctors credited his recovery to his stepson’s quick thinking and even quicker actions.”
Jack married Mary Lee, who split from Tom’s father, Thomas Cruise Mapother III, in 1978. The couple settled in Glen Ridge, N.J., with Tom and his three sisters.
Tom fondly recalled Jack in a 1986 interview: “In the beginning, I felt threatened by my stepfather. There’s a part of you that’s in love with your mother. But he is such a wise, smart man.
“He loved my mother so much that he took us all in, four young people. We’d bet on football [NFL] games, and he was a terrible bettor, so I’d make lots of money.”
But betting wasn’t the only time Jack handed cash to his stepson. After delivering a stellar performance in his high school musical, Tom announced he wanted to head to New York City to pursue acting.
In an interview, his mom recalled Tom asked for 10 years to give showbiz a try. “Meanwhile, [Jack’s] thinking: ‘What’s this gonna cost me?’” she said. Still, Mary Lee said she and Jack “wholeheartedly agreed, because we both felt it was a God-given talent … so we gave him our blessing.” Jack loaned Tom $850, which the actor paid back by bussing tables in New York restaurants.
But their relationship soured after Tom’s then-wife Katie Holmes gave birth to their daughter Suri in April 2006.
Jack and Mary Lee reportedly headed to the actor’s Beverly Hills home to meet the new baby, but Mary Lee refused to return to the Florida home she’d shared with Jack for 13 years!
With Mary Lee apparently immersed in Scientology, Jack filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences.
Their divorce papers listed Mary Lee’s address as a Scientology-owned building in Clearwater, Fla. Her occupation was “student,” suggesting she was involved in the church’s “life improvement” courses.
A financial affidavit, newly obtained by The ENQUIRER, put her total worth at $200,000, compared to the staggering $450 million estimated net worth of her superstar son.
While Tom and Mary Lee were absent from Jack’s funeral mass, both were featured in a memorial tribute. About 20 mourners, including three U.S. Navy sailors, attended the gathering. Tom’s sister Marian Henry and nephew Cal, who is believed to be a Scientologist, also attended – drawing even more attention to the fact that Tom was nowhere to be seen.