Tommy Lister, a 6-foot-5 actor nicknamed Tiny who played the big bully of the Deebo neighborhood in the Friday movies, has died at his home in Marina del Rey, California. He was 62 years old.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies visited Mr. Lister’s home Thursday to do a welfare check, urged by friends and associates who had expressed concern that they had not heard from him. Mr Lister was found dead inside the house, the sheriff’s department said.
The department said Mr Lister’s death was under investigation and a cause would be determined by the county medical examiner’s office, but added that the actor’s death “appears to be of natural causes ”.
Mr Lister’s friend and manager Cindy Cowan said in an interview on Friday night that none of her friends had heard from him for several days. After one of them knocked on his door and got no response, the person contacted the authorities. “I think we are all shocked,” she said.
Ms Cowan said Mr Lister had health issues after testing positive for coronavirus several months ago, and more than a week ago he was unable to hold a meeting at her home because he felt sick and weak. He later told her he was having trouble breathing and was unable to show up to work on a new project last Sunday, Ms Cowan said.
Mr. Lister’s acting career began in the 1980s, with roles in films such as “Runaway Train,” “Blue City,” and “Beverly Hills Cop II,” according to his IMDb profile, which lists over 250 film and television titles.
Tributes to the actor from the co-stars were shared on social media.
Ice Cube, a writer and star of “Friday,” the 1995 comedy that gave Mr. Lister perhaps the signature role of his acting career, praised Mr. Lister as “a born artist who would go into the hat-dropping character terrifying people on and off camera ”before continuing with“ a big smile and laugh ”.
Mr Lister was also cast as President Lindberg in “The Fifth Element” in 1997, and joked that he was the “first black president,” Ms Cowan said.
He also assembled a following in the world of wrestling, where he was known as Zeus or the Human Demolition Machine. He appeared with Hulk Hogan in the movie “No Holds Barred” in 1989.
Thomas G. Lister Jr. was born on June 24, 1958 in Los Angeles County, according to California birth records.
Keith Lister, a brother of Mr Lister, said the actor was married to Felicia Forbes and had a daughter, Faith, 12. Other survivors included Mr Lister’s mother, Mildred Edwards Lister, and siblings Anthony and Jill.
During public appearances, Mr. Lister often forced fans to play a few lines as Deebo’s character, jokingly “scaring” them, Ms. Cowan said.
“Then his teddy bear would come out, and he would break into those big, goofy smiles,” she said.