Tommy “Tiny” Lister, the giant of an actor who usually played mean/bad guy roles, and best known for his characters in “Friday” and “The Fifth Element” died Thursday, his manager Cindy Cowan confirmed.
Deputies were initially called to the actor’s home for a welfare check after associates of Lister said they had not heard from him since the night before.
When they made entry into the home, they found Lister dead inside.
According to the preliminary investigation, Lister died of natural causes, though a final determination will be made by the coroner’s office, the department said.
Lister’s manager said that while the official cause of death was pending, she believed Lister died as a result of COVID-19, which he had contracted months ago.
She said he recently started to exhibit symptoms of the illness once again.
“He was a wonderful guy with a heart of gold. Everyone loved him. A real gentle giant,” Cowan said, “We’re all devastated.”
As a result of his talent to appear menacing on film and his ability to turn it on and off, Tiny has carved out a weird, remarkable career — 30 years long, 176 acting credits in all, with work alongside icons like Marlon Brando, Tupac Shakur, Bruce Willis, Hulk Hogan, and even Michael Jackson.
He was also a professional wrestler in World Championship Wrestling under the name Z-Gangsta. He even wrestled Hulk Hogan in the World Wrestling Federation after appearing as Zeus in 1989’s “No Holds Barred.”
Lister was fondly remembered for playing the neighborhood bully, Deebo, in the 1995 cult-classic “Friday” and appeared in the sequel “Next Friday.”
His other appearances include playing a prisoner in “The Dark Knight,” and the bail agent in “Jackie Brown,” as well as roles in “The Players Club,” Ice Cube’s directing debut and Mario Van Peeble’s “Posse.”
He had a supporting role in “Zootopia” as the voice of the fennec fox, in Adam Sandler’s “Little Nicky” as Nicky’s brother Cassius, and in “Austin Powers in Goldmember.” In “The Fifth Element,” he played the Galactic President.
In the pilot of “Star Trek: Enterprise,” he played Klaang, the first Klingon to make contact with humans. Also on television, he appeared as Mr. Matlock’s bodyguard in “Matlock” and on “In the Heat of the Night.”
Lister appeared in a number of music videos such as French Montana, 50 Cent, Sublime, Ice Cube, Chamillionaire and Young Bleed, just to name a few.
The 6 foot 5 inch Lister grew up in Compton, Calif. and won the national shot put title in college, briefly playing football before deciding to become an actor.
He was blind in one eye as a result of being born with a detached and deformed retina.
Lister was once ashamed of his right eye, trying to hide it when he was younger by