While a cause of death was not immediately revealed, law enforcement told the news outlet that they received a call on Thursday just before 3 p.m. local time to the veteran actor’s apartment in Marina Del Rey, California. Sources revealed to TMZ that Lister was not transported to a local hospital, he was pronounced dead on the scene.
Lister, who has 220 acting credits listed on IMDb, had 11 projects in different stages of production at the time of his death. He is best known for his roles as President Lindberg in The Fifth Element, Deebo in Friday and the voice role of Finnick in Zootopia.
— Taz Hill (@TAZdashit1) December 11, 2020
The beloved actor is survived by his wife, Felicia Forbes, whom he married in 2003, and their daughter. Following his death, Friday co-star Ice Cube paid tribute to Lister on Twitter.
Cube wrote: “RIP Tiny ‘Deebo’ Lister. America’s favorite bully was a born entertainer who would pop into character at the drop of a hat terrifying people on and off camera. Followed by a big smile and laugh. Thank you for being a good dude at heart. I miss you already.”
Here’s what you need to know about Tommy “Tiny” Lister:
Lister Appeared in Over 80 Films During His Acting Career
Born on June 24, 1958, in Compton, California, the famously musclebound, broad-shouldered, bald-headed actor booked his first film in 1985’s Runaway Train as a prison guard, and then enjoyed continuous success in Hollywood with appearances in over 80 films.
Lister starred alongside Adam Sandler in Little Nicky and appeared with Mike Myers in Austin Powers in Goldmember. He twice worked with director Quentin Tarantino on the films Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead and Jackie Brown.
Lister Briefly Wrestled for the WWF & WCW
With his towering size and strength, Lister was the 1982 Division II Shot Put Champion while attending Cal State University, and it wasn’t a huge surprise when he tried his luck in the ring. After starring alongside Hulk Hogan in the 1989 movie No Holds Barred, they wrestled against each other three times, according to Fightful.
In 1990, he took on Abdullah the Butcher for his first non-World Wrestling Federation match, but then quickly returned to acting, Fightful reported. In 1996, Lister briefly returned to wrestle under the name Z-Gangsta for a Doomsday Cage match against Hogan as part of The Alliance To End Hulkamania.
Lister didn’t love wrestling, but he loved the money he made from it. “Vince McMahon was a great negotiator,” he revealed to Grantland. “He would already wire the money into my account before he even started [negotiating.} Who’s going to say no? You’re going to take $56,000 out of your checking account?”
While Lister made $56,000 for SummerSlam, he earned $17,00 for Saturday Night’s Main Event, a $40,000 payday for No Holds Barred: The Match, and an additional $35,000 for appearing in the Survivor Series, Grantland reported.
Lister Was Born Blind in His Right Eye
Lister was born blind with a detached and deformed retina, as reported by Grantland, and at first, the budding actor was ashamed and embarrassed by his disability. In order to deflect attention away from his eye, he wore tinted sunglasses and blamed God for his deformity.
However, one day, Lister decided to stop hiding behind his shades, and that’s when his career took off. “I started doing these movies and God said, ‘You thought it was a cruse. It was a blessing,'” Lister told the outlet. “[My eye] became my trademark in Hollywood.”
There Was an Internet Hoax in 2019 That Falsely Claimed Lister Died
Last year, a rumor spread on the Internet that Lister had died following the death of director John Witherspoon. While a website known as Wikiobits stated that “Tom died on Monday, October 28, 2019,” due to “a really short and painful illness,” it was quickly debunked as a hoax.
Witherspoon, Lister’s co-star in the Friday films, died on October 29, 2019, at age 77. Following his friend’s death, Lister posted three messages of condolences to the 77-year-old actor’s family on his official Instagram page.
Following Lister’s death, Witherspoon’s son, John David “JD” Witherspoon, shared a tribute that said, “my Dad always enjoyed working with you. Take care of each other up there.”
Social Media Filled With Tributes Following Lister’s Sudden Death
We all knew Tiny Lister as Deebo, but he was one of the coolest dudes on the planet, always showed loved to everyone in LA. RIP Legend. pic.twitter.com/24MJCDjnxI
— Josiah Johnson (@KingJosiah54) December 11, 2020
“Tiny” was known as a gentle giant on film sets and was beloved by his fans and castmates. Following the news of his death on Thursday, numerous celebrities, friends and fans shared their tributes to Lister on social media.
Actor Armie Hammer tweeted, “Tiny Lister just died…. even #Debo couldn’t scare away 2020. Fuck that. I’m watching Friday tonight his honor. Rest in power, big man.”
RIP DEBO 'Friday' Star Tommy 'Tiny' Lister Dead at 62 pic.twitter.com/Qzr2j1Zmzm
— Jordan Daley (@JDaIey) December 11, 2020
RIP Tiny Lister, aka Deebo, aka Zeus, aka President Lindberg, aka Winston the bail bondsman. One of the greatest movie villains of all time. Without saying a word, his scowl and sneer sent everyone into hiding. No one ever ever looked more terrifying in a Pendleton. What a legend pic.twitter.com/O9EbQHki5k
— Otto Von Biz Markie (@Passionweiss) December 11, 2020