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The Eighties Club
The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
Stars of the '80s
Tom Cruise
Born 3 July 1962 in Syracuse, New York, Thomas Cruise Mapother IV and his three sisters spent their childhood on the move, with Cruise attending twelve different schools by age 12. At 14, he was a student in a Franciscan seminary and considering the priesthood. When a knee injury in high school wrecked his wrestling ambitions, Cruise turned to acting, landing the role of Nathan in the school production of Guys and Dolls. Graduating from Glen Ridge (NJ) High School in 1980, Cruise headed to New York City to pursue an acting career. 1981 found him in Los Angeles, where he met agent Paula Wagner, who was instrumental in getting him a small part in Franco Zeffirelli's Endless Love, starring Brooke Shields. He also appeared in Taps, and had his first starring role opposite Shelley Long in the comedy Losin' It. In 1983, Francis Ford Coppola cast him in a small role in the film The Outsiders, co-starring a number of other talented up-and-coming stars including Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe and C. Thomas Howell.
Cruise advanced his career with the hit comedy Risky Business, in which he starred as a bored suburban teen turned entrepreneur by going into business with a prostitute played by Rebecca de Mornay. In All the Right Moves, he played a high school football star who clashes with his coach.  Both films solidified Cruise's position as one of Hollywood's promising young stars. But his next project, the Ridley Scott fantasy Legend, did more harm than good. Cruise quickly bounced back with the movie that guaranteed his star status -- and also made him an Eighties icon -- Top Gun, the flag-waving action flick about gung-ho Navy pilots. Then came Martin Scorsese's The Color of Money, a highly-regarded drama costarring Paul Newman, and a film that demonstrated Cruise was much more than just a pretty face. In case anyone still doubted his dramatic range, Cruise acquitted himself well opposite Dustin Hoffman in 1988's Rain Man, and gave an Oscar-nominated performance as anti-war activist Ron Kovic in Born on the Fourth of July the following year.
In the 1990s Cruise became one of the biggest and most bankable stars in Hollywood, with such megahits as The Firm (1993), Mission: Impossible (1996) and Jerry Maguire (1996). He met Nicole Kidman on the set of Days of Thunder (1990), married her, and then starred with her in Far and Away (1992) and Eyes Wide Shut (1999). He earned two more Academy Award nominations: Best Actor in a Leading Role for Jerry Maguire and Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his work in Magnolia (1999). More recently, his highly publicized split with Kidman has preoccupied the tabloid press. Cruise has two adopted children, Isabella and Connor.

1980s Filmography
Endless Love (1981)
Taps (1981)
Losin' It (1983)
The Outsiders (1983)
Risky Business (1983)
All The Right Moves (1983)
Legend (1985)
Top Gun (1986)
The Color of Money (1986)
Cocktail (1988)
Young Guns (1988)
Rain Man (1988)
Born on the Fourth of July (1989)


Critics' Comments
Risky Business (1983)
"A pre-Top Gun Cruise exudes a basic decency that keeps smarminess at bay and credibility at hand."  -- People Weekly

Top Gun (1986)
"[I]t's Cruise that keeps the movie at full throttle. Whether he's coming on to McGillis or riding shotgun in a sleek F-14 cockpit, Cruise has a cocksure camera face that holds the audience in thrall."
-- People Weekly

Cocktail (1988)
"There is not a moment in the movie's last half that is not borrowed from other movies, and eventually even the talented and graceful Cruise can be seen laboring with the ungainly reversals in the script."
-- Roger Ebert

Born on the Fourth of July (1989)
"[Cruise] has been hailed for years now as a great young American actor. . . . In Born on the Fourth of July his performance is so good that the movie lives through it. [Director Oliver] Stone is able to make his statement with Cruise's face and voice and doesn't need to put everything into the dialogue."
-- Roger Ebert

Tom Cruise and Paul Newman in The Color of Money


A budding romance with Penelope Cruz prompted Madam Tussaud's waxwork museum in London to replace a sculpture of Kidman with one of Cruz for a 2001 Tom Cruise exhibit.
In 1990, Cruise renounced Catholicism and embraced Scientology, which he claimed helped him win his battle with dyslexia.
In 1998 the Hollywood Reporter named Cruise the "most bankable movie star," followed by Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks and Brad Pitt.
Cruise earned $20 million (plus 30% of the gross) for Mission: Impossible 2 (2000). He reportedly got $25 million for Minority Report (2002.)