Tommy Lister Jr.
Lister in 2018
Thomas Duane Lister Jr.
June 24, 1958
Compton, California, U.S.
|Died||December 10, 2020 (aged 62)|
|Other names||Tiny, Tom, Deebo|
|Billed height||6 ft 5 in (196 cm)|
|Billed weight||300 lb (136 kg)|
|Billed from||Parts Unknown|
|Debut||April 25, 1989|
Tommy Debo Lister (born Thomas Duane "Tiny" Lister Jr.; June 24, 1958 – December 10, 2020) was an American character actor and occasional professional wrestler known for his roles as the neighborhood bully Deebo in the 1995 film Friday and its 2000 sequel and as President Lindberg in The Fifth Element. He had two short professional wrestling stints, with Hulk Hogan in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) after appearing as Zeus in the 1989 movie No Holds Barred, and resuming the feud as Z-Gangsta in 1996 for World Championship Wrestling (WCW). He was blind in his right eye which droops, and the look in movies is a product created by film crews. He played in both comedies and dramas, usually cast as 'the heavy.' He also had a distinguished track and field experience while in college.
Lister was born on June 24, 1958, in Compton, California, to Tommy and Mildred Faye Lister. Ever since his birth, he had a deformed and detached retina in his right eye, causing permanent blindness.
Lister attended Palomar Junior College before transferring to Long Beach City College for his sophomore year. While at Long Beach, he recorded a 52 ft (16 m) shot put throw, which helped to earn him a scholarship to California State University at Los Angeles. In his senior year, he won the national shot put title with a mark of over 61 ft 8 in (18.8 m). Lister was the 1982 NCAA Division II National Shot Put Champion.
After college, Lister competed for the Converse Track Club, eventually raising his shot put mark to 64 ft 3 in (19.58 m), before trying out with the New Orleans Breakers of the United States Football League. He was cut after two exhibition games, and opted to pursue acting instead.
Lister was best known as Deebo from Friday. Deebo was the neighborhood bully and antagonist to Ice Cube's character, Craig Jones. He reprised the role in the film's sequel, Next Friday, but did not appear in the third film of the series, Friday After Next. He did, however, appear in Cube's director debut The Players Club. He also played the role of Obodo in Mario Van Peebles' Posse (1993), along with Tone Loc. Lister had numerous guest appearances on TV series, including playing Klaang, the first Klingon ever to make contact with humans, in the pilot episode of Star Trek: Enterprise. He co-starred in a two-part episode of the courtroom series Matlock as Mr. Matlock's in-prison bodyguard. He also appeared in season 7 episode 09 of "In the Heat of the Night".
Lister's film roles included playing a prisoner in The Dark Knight, Austin Powers in Goldmember and The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence). Lister was featured in The Fifth Element as the Galactic President. He appeared in the Adam Sandler film Little Nicky as Nicky's older brother Cassius.
Lister was the main police officer in Chamillionaire's Ridin' video, and reprised his role as a police officer in Chamillionaire's 2012 single Show Love. He has also appeared in the Ice Cube videos for Friday (from the Friday soundtrack) and You Can Do It (from the Next Friday soundtrack). Lister appeared via both original footage and film clips from the movie. He was also in the videos for Young Bleed's How You Do Dat, French Montana's I Told 'Em and 50 Cent's Many Men (Wish Death). Lister also portrayed Sancho in the Sublime music video Santeria.
In the Quentin Tarantino film Jackie Brown, he played bail agent Winston, who "finds people who don't want to be found". In 2015, Lister filmed Busy Day in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The film was produced by Tamás Nádas. Lister had a supporting role in the 2016 Disney animated movie Zootopia as the voice of the diminutive fennec fox, Finnick. He also appeared in a commercial that year for Ball Park-brand beef jerky, advertised as "tough, but tender."
Cast as an habitual 'bad guy' in the movies, his career prospered. He became the spokesperson for Monster Energy Drink. He was a frequent collaborator with Ice Cube. In a Twitter encomium, he recalled Lister’s sense of humor: "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."
Lister appeared in the 1989 wrestling movie No Holds Barred, which was financed by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and starred Hulk Hogan. Lister's role was Zeus, a brutal monster heel.
No Holds Barred inspired a feud in the WWF during the latter half of 1989. Lister was billed as "Zeus: The Human Wrecking Machine", and used the same "monster heel" gimmick in his matches by no-selling his opponent's moves.
Eventually, Zeus demanded Hogan face him in the ring. Citing jealousy for being billed under Hogan and anger over losing to Hogan in the movie, Zeus now wanted to beat him in "real life". Zeus formed an alliance with fellow Hogan rival "Macho Man" Randy Savage to feud with Hogan and his friend, Brutus Beefcake. The two teams faced off at the 1989 SummerSlam event in a tag team match which saw Hogan and Beefcake prevail as the victors, with Hogan pinning Zeus.
Following SummerSlam, Zeus formed an alliance with "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase leading into the Survivor Series. At the event, the team of The Hulkamaniacs (Hulk Hogan, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, and Demolition) faced The Million Dollar Team (Ted DiBiase, Zeus, and The Powers of Pain). Zeus was eliminated from the match via disqualification after refusing to break a chokehold on Hogan and shoving the referee away. The Hulkamaniacs went on to win the match.
After the Survivor Series, the feud between Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake versus Randy Savage and Zeus ended with a steel cage match on December 27, 1989 at the No Holds Barred pay-per-view event. Hogan and Beefcake were once again victorious in what would be Zeus's last match in the WWF. Lister's final WWF appearance was a promotional spot for the 1990 Royal Rumble.
Lister spent March 1996 in World Championship Wrestling as Z-Gangsta, as part of The Alliance to End Hulkamania, culminating in failure at Uncensored. He debuted the previous week with fellow actor/wrestler Robert Swenson, who was billed as The Ultimate Solution.
The athletic department of Lister's alma mater Cal State LA sponsors an annual track meet in his name.
In 2016 he was nominated for the "Best Bad Mu#&a Award" at the All Def Movie Awards. In 2014 at the Orlando Urban Film Festival he won "Best Star Spotlight" for his performance in No Weapon Formed Against Us.
He was married to Felicia Forbes, formerly of Capetown, where they married.
Lister was a born-again Christian. In 1999, he and Darryl Strawberry appeared on Christian TV Benny Hinn's TV program on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, in which they gave their testimonies. Afterwards, Hinn laid hands on Lister and bover him, "God is calling you to reach out to young people and will bless your acting career to do it." Lister continued to make appearances on religion-based networks and spoke to urban youth and at church functions across the country.
On August 31, 2012, Lister agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to commit mortgage fraud, in a scheme that led to $3.8 million in losses. He was charged with fraudulently buying homes in order to withdraw $1.1 million in home equity loans. As of April 2014, he was out on bail and confident of avoiding prison. He stated, "What’s so cool about God and our government is that you can make a mistake and they will forgive you if you just a good person and doing right.”
Lister was diagnosed with COVID-19 around August 2020, and overcame the illness. He became ill with symptoms similar to COVID-19 a second time in early December, such as weakness and trouble breathing, which forced him to cancel shooting for a film. His manager Cindy McGowen, who said it was not normal for him to miss filmings, became concerned and sent her assistant to his house to give him vitamins and antibiotics. He also canceled a Zoom appearance at a TV festival. Concerned family members tried calling him on December 9, but these calls went unanswered.
On December 10, police who were called to check on Lister found him dead in his home in Marina del Rey, California; he was 62 years old. The coroner's office is investigating his cause of death, which is allegedly complications from COVID-19.
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|1986||8 Million Ways to Die||Nose Guard|
|1986||Armed and Dangerous||Bruno||cred as Tom "Tiny" Lester|
|1986||Wired To Kill||Sleet|
|1987||Beverly Hills Cop II||Orvis|||
|1988||The Night Before||Bartender|
|1989||No Holds Barred||Zeus|||
|1989||Homer and Eddie||Man in Bar with Gun|
|1991||9 1/2 Ninjas!||Cutter|
|1991||Talkin' Dirty After Dark||'Big'|
|1993||The Meteor Man||'Digit'|
|1994||Men of War||Blades|||
|1994||Don Juan DeMarco||Rocco Compton|
|1995||Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead||House|
|1996||A Thin Line Between Love and Hate||Tyrone|
|1996||Street Corner Justice||Angel Aikens||as 'Tiny' Lister Jr.|
|1997||Killer per caso||Mobster #2|
|1997||The Fifth Element||President Lindberg|||
|1997||Gang Related||'Cutlass Supreme'|
|1997||A Time to Revenge||Corporal Hollis|
|1998||The Players Club||'XL'|||
|1998||I Got the Hook Up||'T-Lay'|||
|1998||The Magic Hour||Angry Audience Member|||
|1999||Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies||Prison Guard|
|1999||Judgment Day||Brother Clarence|
|1999||Shark in a Bottle||The Recruiter|
|2000||The Cheapest Movie Ever Made|
|2001||The Duo||'Tiny' Lister Jr.|
|2001||Vegas, City of Dreams||Llord's Security Chief|
|2002||Austin Powers in Goldmember||Prisoner #2|||
|2003||Keepin' It Real||A-Train Tranton|
|2004||My Baby's Daddy||Drive By|
|2004||Never Die Alone||Rockie|||
|2004||Knocked the "F" Out|
|2004||A Night in Compton||Rainmaker|
|2004||Hair Show||Agent Little|
|2005||County General||Big Murder|
|2005||Santa's Slay||Gas Station Attendant|
|2006||One Night with the King||Hagai|
|2006||Who Made the Potatoe Salad?||Mr. Monster|
|2007||Vegas Vampires||Andrew Johnson|
|2007||The Pink Conspiracy||The Duke|
|2007||The Grand||German's Bodyguard|
|2007||Lady Samurai||Big Luther|
|2007||Down aka Kilo – Put Your Locs On||Deebo|
|2008||The Hustle||Dog Thief|
|2008||Новая Земля (Novaya Zemlya) Terra Nova||Sewing Dude|
|2008||The Dark Knight||Tattooed Prisoner||cred as Tommy Tiny Lister|
|2008||Miss B's Hair Salon||Mr. Biggs|
|2009||Holy Water||'SixPac' Jordan|
|2010||First Dog||Big Mike|
|2010||The Lazarus Papers||Tiny Delaney|
|2010||Lean Like a Cholo||Crazy Loc|
|2010||Food Stamps||Reggie The Mail Man|
|2011||Hopelessly in June||Pastor G|
|2011||The Preacher's Family||Jackson Hines|
|2011||The Trap Door|||
|2012||We The Party||'No Shame'|
|2012||Beyond the Trophy||Billy Thomas|
|2012||Heaven's Door||Ben Wilson|
|2012||Silent No More||Blake|
|2013||White T||Mad Rapper|
|2013||Comedy of Errorz|
|2015||The Whole World at Our Feet||Louie|
|2015||The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence)||Inmate #178|
|2015||Tamales and Gumbo||Uncle Mark|
|2015||If I Tell You I Have to Kill You||Gabriel|
|2015||No Weapon Formed Against Us||Jackson Hines|||
|2016||Beyond the Game|
|2016||Of Sentimental Value||Tee|
|2017||Boone: The Bounty Hunter||Man in TV Show||Uncred|
|2017||Sunday Morning Rapture||Himself|
|2017||Busy Day||Johnny Burns|
|2018||Fury of the Fist and the Golden Fleece||Superfly|
|2019||Slasher Party||Smiley Face|
|2019||I Got the Hook Up 2||T-Lay|||
Lister wrestled under the moniker Zeus in WWE and feuded with Hulk Hogan
Lister’s appeance as Deebo in “Friday” and “Next Friday” had a lasting effect on black film cannon.
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