Before Brian Flanagan and Lt. Daniel Kaffee; before Joel Goodsen, Joseph Donnelly, and Charlie Babbit; before John Anderton, Cole Trickle, Claus von Stauffenberg and David Aames; before the frustrated Dr. William Harford, the fuzzy, profane Les Grossman, or the misogynistic pick-up artistry of Frank T.J. Mackey; before, even, the perpetual motion machine of Tom Cruise himself——there was Tommy Mapother.
In the mid-to-late '70s, Tommy attended high school at St. Xavier, a private Catholic school nestled in a kind of confluence between a few of Louisville's East End neighborhoods. At that time, the city was locked in a kind of economic and demographic stasis, where the decades of white flight and so-called urban renewal stabilized the metropolitan population for years to come. Some theorize that this was simply a byproduct of young Tommy Mapother harnessing the city's energies, siphoning Louisville's untapped psychic reserves like a battery and transforming its power, bending it to his will.
Before Tom Cruise climbed mountains and pretended to destroy aliens for a living, Tommy Mapother was just doing stuff. And he was doing this stuff in, of all places, Louisville, Kentucky. According to multiple biographical sources gleaned from the Internet in a great haste, the young Mapother moved to Louisville from Canada when he was a teenager where he ostensibly did normal Louisvillian things. While in school, the young Mapother reportedly excelled in athletics and theater, and was fascinated with theology, intending to pursue ecclesiastical studies at the St. Francis Seminary School in nearby Cincinnati. He was well on his righteous path, but as most endeavors undertaken by Kentuckians inevitably are, Mapother's pursuits were ruined in the pursuit of alcohol.
A March 4, 2013, New York Daily News article details Mapother's exploits with fellow seminarian Shane Dempler:
…[O]ne night the duo got the bright idea of stealing some liquor from their Franciscan fathers, who were planning a celebration, Dempler said.
Dempler sneaked into the room where the liquor was stashed and threw bottle after bottle out the window to Cruise, waiting below.
"(I) tossed about six, most broke, but we managed to get a couple and hide them in the nearby woods," said Dempler. "The priests didn't even realize until some of the other boys found out about our plan and snuck into the woods and got drunk. They were caught staggering down the road to the seminary and forced to confess.
"The school wrote a letter to our parents saying they liked us both, but would prefer if we didn't return. So we weren't kicked out, just preferred not to go," said Dempler.
Cruise could not be reached for comment about the incident.
The future star left Louisville — and within five years had his breakout role as a crazed military kid in "Taps."
Miraculously, beginning in the early-to-mid-eighties, Louisville began to slowly grow once more, having nursed the rising star to manhood. This is probably a coincidence, but as they teach police detectives, we don't believe in coincidences. Not today.
If anything, the city of Louisville can claim it was there that Cruise discovered two of his life's chief passions: Acting and religion. Both have catapulted him out of our state and into fame and fortune, resulting in some of America's most valuable cultural exports and at least one international human rights violation investigation. However, Cruise's Wikipedia page is, as of this writing, scrubbed of any mention of his Louisville residency despite multiple corroborating sources elsewhere on the Internet. (Efforts to reach out to his cousin, Louisvillian and actor William Mapother, were unsuccessful, leaving us woefully unsure if Tom Cruise ever puked in the infield during Oaks Day races at Churchill Downs.)
Logic dictates that, because Tom Cruise lived in Louisville, he lived in Kentucky, thus making him——however fleeting——a Kentuckian. It is an easy distinction to make, but not one rendered lightly. It may not be Berea, Hazard or even Newport, but dammit, Louisville's close enough.
But who knows what could have been? Perhaps, like Castro and his failed baseball ambitions, had the Franciscan friars let him get drunk on that fateful night, Tom Cruise might have remained Tommy Mapother, and the world might have been a different place… probably one with a lot more Eric Stolz.
The following are recommended topics, including some facts and many outright lies, to be used for conversational purposes in the event that the wearing of this shirt attracts social interest:
"Yeah, he lived in Louisville before commanding indentured servants aboard his personal watercraft within the larger Church of Scientology's ocean-faring Sea Org flotilla."
"I think he was a Cardinals fan."
"Well he wasn't a Scientologist when he lived in Kentucky, is all I'm saying."
"I know that Day-Lewis gets all the love for 'My Left Foot' and all, but Cruise was really screwed over by the Academy that year. His performance in 'Born on the Fourth of July' is incredible and really spoke to me on a personal level."
"No, you're thinking of Dustin Hoffman."
Words by Jonathan Meador
Product Photo by Savanna Barnett
This t-shirt is no longer in print, but it still lives on in our hearts and on people's backs. Be sure to stop by the shop for plenty of other Kentucky T-shirts. We suggest this one about another up-and-coming Kentuckian: