'Tiny' Lister, Jr.

Tommy Lister Jr.
Tommy "Tiny" Lister (43904364340) (cropped).jpg
Lister in 2018
Thomas Duane Lister Jr.

(1958-06-24)June 24, 1958
DiedDecember 10, 2020(2020-12-10) (aged 62)
Other namesTiny, Tom, Deebo
OccupationActor, professional wrestler
Years active1984–2019
Felicia Forbes
(m. 2003)
Ring name(s)Zeus[1]
Billed height6 ft 5 in (196 cm)[2]
Billed weight300 lb (136 kg)[1][2]
Billed fromParts unknown[2]
DebutApril 25, 1989[1]
RetiredMarch 24, 1996

Tommy Debo "Tiny" Lister Jr.[3][4] (born Thomas Duane Lister Jr.; June 24, 1958 – December 10, 2020)[5] 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 film No Holds Barred and resuming the feud as Z-Gangsta in 1996 for World Championship Wrestling (WCW).[1] He was born with a detached and deformed retina and was blind in his right eye, which drooped, a unique look that he turned to his advantage in film. [6] He played in both comedies and dramas, usually cast as 'the heavy/big bully'. He also had a distinguished track and field experience while in college.

Early life[]

Lister was born on June 24, 1958, in Compton, California, to Thomas Duane Lister and Mildred (Edwards) Lister. Ever since his birth, he had a deformed and detached retina in his right eye, causing permanent blindness.[6]

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, 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.[7][6]

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.[6] He was cut after two exhibition games and opted to pursue acting instead.[8]

Acting career[]

Lister was mostly recognized as the antagonist known as Deebo from 1995's Friday.[9] Deebo was the neighborhood's dog-eat-dog thug and bruiser to every character, including Ice Cube's main character Craig Jones. He reprised the role in the film's sequel, Next Friday (2000), but did not appear in the third film of the series, Friday After Next (2002). He did, however, appear in Cube's directorial debut The Players Club. He also played the role of Obodo in Mario Van Peebles' Posse (1993), along with Tone Loc.[8]

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.[10] 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 9 of "In the Heat of the Night".[11] He starred in the sitcom 1st & Ten as Otis.

Lister's film roles included playing in The Dark Knight,[7] Austin Powers in Goldmember[9][10] and The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence). Lister was featured in The Fifth Element as the Galactic President.[12][7][13] He appeared in the Adam Sandler film Little Nicky as Nicky's older brother Cassius.[11]

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.[11]

In the Quentin Tarantino film Jackie Brown,[14] 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.[15] Lister had a supporting role in the 2016 Disney animated movie Zootopia as the voice of the diminutive fennec fox, Finnick.[7] He also appeared in a commercial that year for Ball Park-brand beef jerky, advertised as "tough, but tender."[7][16]

Cast as an habitual 'bad guy' in the movies, his career prospered. He became the spokesperson for Monster Energy Drink.[17] 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."[10]

In the 40 years of his acting career, Lister accumulated more than 200 acting crs.[18][19][20]

Professional wrestling career[]

World Wrestling Federation (1989–1990)[]

Lister appeared in the 1989 wrestling movie No Holds Barred,[9][12] which was financed by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and starred Hulk Hogan. Lister's role was Zeus, a brutal monster heel.[7][11] No Holds Barred inspired a feud in the WWF during the latter half of 1989. Lister was billed as "Zeus: The Human Wrecking Machine",[2][9][12][7] and also used the same "monster heel" gimmick in his matches by no-selling his opponent's moves. He would yell, "Aw! Aw!" and pound on his chest several times during his interviews and in the ring. Zeus would eventually demand Hogan to face him in the ring.[12]

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 King" Randy Savage to feud with Hogan and his friend, Brutus "The Barber" 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.[7][21] Following SummerSlam, Zeus formed an alliance with "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase leading into that year's 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.[7][2] The Hulkamaniacs went on to win the match, defeating the other team.[22] 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.[7][23]

World Wrestling Council (1990)[]

On July 7, 1990, Zeus fought Abdullah the Butcher in a double countout at a World Wrestling Council show in Puerto Rico.[24]

World Championship Wrestling (1996)[]

Lister spent March 1996 in World Championship Wrestling (WCW) 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,[25] who was billed as The Ultimate Solution.[9]

Honors and awards[]

U.S. national shot put title with a mark of over 61 ft 8 in (18.8 m) and 1982 NCAA Division II National Shot Put Champion.[7][6]

The athletic department of Lister's alma mater Cal State LA sponsors an annual track meet in his name.[26]

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.[27]

Personal life[]


He was married to Felicia Forbes, formerly of Cape Town, where they married.[28]

Legal issues[]

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.[6] He was charged with fraudulently buying homes in order to withdraw $1.1 million in home equity loans.[29] In April 2014, he was out on bail and was 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."[6]

Health problems and death[]

By age 55, Lister had type 2 diabetes.[6]

Lister was diagnosed with COVID-19 around August 2020 and overcame the illness.[9] He became ill with symptoms similar to COVID-19 a second time in early December, exhibiting weakness and trouble breathing, which forced him to cancel shooting for a film.[30] 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.[31]

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 investigated his cause of death,[32] which was originally suspected to be from complications of COVID-19.[9][23][31][30][33] However, the final autopsy report revealed that the cause of death was hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.[34]

Championships and accomplishments[]



In 40 years of his acting career, Lister accumulated more than 200 acting crs.[18][19][20]


Year Title Role Notes
1985 Runaway Train Jackson [10]
1986 8 Million Ways to Die Nose Guard
1986 Blue City 'Tiny'
1986 Armed and Dangerous Bruno cred as Tom "Tiny" Lester
1986 Wired To Kill Sleet
1987 Extreme Prejudice Monday
1987 Beverly Hills Cop II Orvis [10]
1987 Prison 'Tiny'
1988 The Night Before Bartender
1989 No Holds Barred Zeus [9][12]
1989 Midnight Security Guard
1989 Homer and Eddie Man in Bar with Gun
1989 Think Big 'Z'
1991 9 1/2 Ninjas! Cutter
1991 Talkin' Dirty After Dark 'Big'
1992 Universal Soldier GR55
1992 Trespass Cletus
1993 Posse[8] Obobo [10]
1993 The Meteor Man 'Digit'
1994 Immortal Combat Yanagi
1994 Men of War Blades [8]
1994 Don Juan DeMarco Rocco Compton
1995 Friday Deebo [9][42]
1995 Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead House
1995 The Set-Up Leon
1995 The Kangaroo Sadran
1996 A Thin Line Between Love and Hate Tyrone
1996 Barb Wire Bouncer
1996 Phat Beach 'Tiny'
1996 White Cargo Zeno
1996 Street Corner Justice Angel Aikens as 'Tiny' Lister Jr.[43]
1997 Killer per caso Mobster #2
1997 The Fifth Element President Lindberg [12][7][13][10]
1997 Below Utopia Tiny
1997 Gang Related 'Cutlass Supreme'
1997 Hoover Park Q
1997 Jackie Brown Winston [28][14][10]
1997 A Time to Revenge Corporal Hollis
1998 The Players Club 'XL' [28][10]
1998 I Got the Hook Up 'T-Lay' [10]
1998 Butter House
1998 The Magic Hour Angry Audience Member [44]
1999 Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies Prison Guard
1999 Judgment Day Brother Clarence
1999 Stealth Fighter Berg
1999 Shark in a Bottle The Recruiter
2000 Next Friday Deebo [45]
2000 Circus 'Moose'
2000 Little Nicky Cassius [10]
2000 The Cheapest Movie Ever Made
2001 The Duo 'Tiny' Lister Jr.
2001 Vegas, City of Dreams Llord's Security Chief
2001 Out Kold Sweet
2001 Soulkeeper Chad
2001 The Wash Bear [28]
2002 Austin Powers in Goldmember Prisoner #2 [9][10]
2003 Confidence Harlin
2003 Keepin' It Real A-Train Tranton
2003 Love Chronicles Alfonso
2003 Hellborn Smithy
2004 My Baby's Daddy Drive By
2004 Never Die Alone Rockie [10]
2004 Knocked the "F" Out T-Bone
2004 A Night in Compton Rainmaker
2004 Dracula 3000 'Humvee'
2004 Slammed Bubba
2004 El Padrino 'T-Bone'
2004 Hair Show Agent Little
2004 Blast Smiley [28]
2004 Full Clip Boomiyay
2005 County General Big Murder
2005 Santa's Slay Gas Station Attendant
2006 Forbidden Fruits Jade
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 Bone Dry Mitch
2007 Lady Samurai Big Luther
2007 Down aka Kilo – Put Your Locs On Deebo
2008 The Hustle Dog Thief
2008 Terra Nova Sewing Dude
2008 The Dark Knight Tattooed Prisoner cred as Tommy Tiny Lister[7][10]
2008 Unemployed Big Dane
2008 The Rimshop Duncan
2008 Miss B's Hair Salon Mr. Biggs
2009 Super Capers Sarge
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 Cornered Cpt. Williams
2011 The Preacher's Family Jackson Hines
2011 The Trap Door
2012 Noah Roaring Giant Voice
2012 We the Party 'No Shame'
2012 Beyond the Trophy Billy Thomas
2012 Hillbilly Highway Wilbert
2012 K-11 'Detroit'
2012 Heaven's Door Ben Wilson
2012 Silent No More Blake
2013 White T Mad Rapper
2013 Comedy of Errorz
2015 American Justice Justice
2015 The Whole World at Our Feet Louie
2015 Death's Door Jomo
2015 The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence) Inmate #178
2015 Tamales and Gumbo Uncle Mark
2015 Death's Door Jomo
2015 If I Tell You I Have to Kill You Gabriel
2015 No Weapon Formed Against Us Jackson Hines [46]
2016 Zootopia Finnick Voice[7][10]
2016 Hickey Henry
2016 Beyond the Game Ezra
2016 Of Sentimental Value Tee
2016 Hauntsville Kaine
2017 2016 Rondo
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 Night Walk Kareem
2019 I Got the Hook Up 2 T-Lay [47]
2020 Hell Hole Martin Final film role during his lifetime
2021 Domino: Battle of the Bones Twelvespeed Released posthumously[48]
2022 Renegades Apollo Posthumous release


Music videos[]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Tommy "Tiny" Lister Jr.'s Profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved March 20, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Zeus' WWE alumni profile". WWE. Retrieved June 30, 2012.
  3. ^ "Death Certificate" (PDF). TMZ. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  4. ^ "Tommy Lister Legally Changed His Middle Name to 'Debo' Ahead of His Passing". January 15, 2021.
  5. ^ "'Friday' Actor Tommy 'Tiny' Lister Died of Heart Disease, Autopsy Reveals". Complex. Retrieved May 10, 2022.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Golianopoulos, Thomas (May 29, 2014). "Say Hello to the Bad Guy". Grantland. Retrieved May 13, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Bengel, Chris. "Tommy 'Tiny' Lister, former WWE superstar and Deebo from 'Friday' movie series, dies at 62". CBS. Retrieved December 11, 2020. Lister wrestled under the moniker Zeus in WWE and feuded with Hulk Hogan
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Lee, Kirby (March 27, 1994). "Taking a Shot at Films: Cal State L.A. shotput title-holder Tommie Lister Jr. transferred his athletic success to pro wrestling—and now acting". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Landrum, Jonathan, Jr. "Tommy 'Tiny' Lister, who played Deebo in 'Friday,' dies". Associated Press. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Boone, Keyaira (December 11, 2020). "Tommy 'Tiny' Lister Jr. Dead At 62". Essence. Lister's appeance as Deebo in "Friday" and "Next Friday" had a lasting effect on black film cannon.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g "Tommy Tiny Lister filmography". March 6, 2019. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  12. ^ a b c d e f Hauser, Christine (December 11, 2020). "Tommy Lister, Actor Who Menaced as Deebo in 'Friday,' Is Dead at 62". The New York Times.
  13. ^ a b Fictional Presidential Films: A Comprehensive Filmography of Portrayals from 1930 to 2011. Xlibris Corporation. July 2011. p. 204. ISBN 978-1-4628-9319-5.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  14. ^ a b Klemens, Herbert (2001). Movies of the 90s (Paperback). Taschen. p. 516. ISBN 3-8228-5878-1.
  15. ^ "Cast | Busy Day Movie – Attila Arpa, Tommy Lister, Quinton Aaron". Busydayproductions.us. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  16. ^ Ball Park Jerky Vending Machine on YouTube
  17. ^ Stillwell, Susie (June 19, 2014). "Tiny Lister: Soaring with the Eagles". Houston Style Magazine. Retrieved December 14, 2020.
  18. ^ a b Moon, Sarah (December 11, 2020). "Thomas 'Tiny' Lister Jr., 'Friday' actor, dead at 62 after apparently experiencing Covid-19 symptoms". CNN.
  19. ^ a b "A look at 'Tiny' Lister's best acting roles" (Video). CNN. December 11, 2020.
  20. ^ a b Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television. Vol. 1 (17th ed.). United States: Gale Research Company. 2000. pp. 260–261. ISBN 9780787631857.
  21. ^ Dugan, Kelli (December 12, 2020). "Character actor, former wrestler Tommy 'Tiny' Lister Jr., of 'Friday' fame, dead at 62". Cox Media Group WPXI.
  22. ^ "Survivor Series 1989 results". pWwew – Everything Wrestling. Retrieved June 26, 2008.
  23. ^ a b Ryder, Taryn (December 12, 2020). "Tommy 'Tiny' Lister died after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, says manager". Yahoo Entertainment US. Yahoo!.
  24. ^ Zeus vs Abdullah The Butcher, WWC 1990, retrieved February 1, 2022
  25. ^ Mega Powers vs Ric Flair & Kevin Sullivan. Z-Gangster (Zeus) & The Ultimate Solution debut! (WCW), archived from the original on November 14, 2021, retrieved September 10, 2021
  26. ^ "'The Match' that lit Tommy Lister's career". California State University, Los Angeles. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  27. ^ "Tom Lister Jr". IMDb.
  28. ^ a b c d e Aukerman, Scott (September 8, 2020). "U TALKIN' TALKING HEADS 2 MY TALKING HEAD #68". U TALKIN' TALKING HEADS 2 MY TALKING HEAD. Earwolf. Event occurs at 25:00. Retrieved December 14, 2020.
  29. ^ Pfeifer, Stuart (August 31, 2012). "Actor and Accountant agree to plead guilty to conspiracy charges in mortgage fraud scheme". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  30. ^ a b Saperstein, Pat (December 11, 2020). "Tommy 'Tiny' Lister, 'Friday' Actor and Wrestler, Dies at 62". Variety. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  31. ^ a b "Thomas 'Tiny' Lister Jr., 'Friday' actor, dead at 62, died of hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease".
  32. ^ Haring, Bruce (December 10, 2020). "Tommy "Tiny" Lister Dies: Menacing Deebo In 'Friday' Films & Ex-Wrestler Was 62". Deadline Hollywood.
  33. ^ "Thomas 'Tiny' Lister Jr., 'Friday' actor, dead at 62".
  34. ^ "Friday' star Tommy 'Tiny' Lister's cause of death is revealed".
  35. ^ "Pro Wrestling Illustrated (PWI) 500 for 1991". The Internet Wrestling Database. Retrieved February 10, 2020.
  36. ^ "Tommy "Tiny" Lister - Rotten Tomatoes". rottentomatoes.com. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  37. ^ "Tiny Lister | TV Guide". TVGuide.com. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  38. ^ "Tiny Lister". www.tcm.com. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  39. ^ "AFI|Catalog". catalog.afi.com. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  40. ^ "Tommy "Tiny" Lister Jr. | Movies and Filmography". AllMovie. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  41. ^ "Tommy Lester Filmography". Retrieved December 14, 2020 – via Bing.com.
  42. ^ "Wide Receiver Samuel Deebo Mourns Death of His Namesake, Tommy Lister". East Bay Times. December 11, 2020.
  43. ^ Hindes, Andrew (September 23, 1996). "Street Corner Justice". Variety. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
  44. ^ "Stern Works Some Magic for Ratings". Los Angeles Times. July 4, 1998. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
  45. ^ "Review: Next Friday". News York Times. January 12, 2003. p. 223.
  46. ^ "No Weapon Formed Against Us". November 2015 – via IMDb.
  47. ^ "I Got the Hook Up 2". July 12, 2019 – via IMDb.
  48. ^ "Domino: Battle of the Bones". June 11, 2021 – via IMDb.

External links[]