Tom Sizemore died on Friday at the age of 61. He was known as much for his struggles with drug addiction and run-ins with the law as for his tough-guy roles in movies like “Saving Private Ryan” and “Black Hawk Down.” His manager, Charles Lago, said Sizemore was addicted to drugs and had run-ins with the law.
Sizemore died in his sleep at a hospital in Burbank, California, on Friday, Lago said in a statement. He was in critical condition after having a brain aneurysm on February 18.
Sizemore was born in Detroit, where his mother worked for the city’s ombudsman, and his father was a lawyer and philosophy professor. He went to Wayne State University and Temple University in Philadelphia to get a graduate degree in theatre.
As an aspiring actor in New York City, Sizemore waited tables and did plays. His big break came when director Oliver Stone gave him a small part as Vet #1 in the anti-war movie “Born on the Fourth of July,” which came out in 1989.
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In the early 1990s, he played more supporting roles, which led to a series of high-profile roles as hard-boiled detectives in movies like Oliver Stone’s 1994 mass murder drama “Natural Born Killers,” the 1995 noir mystery “Devil in a Blue Dress,” and the 1995 cyberpunk thriller “Strange Days.”
He also played the frontier gunfighter Bat Masterson in Kevin Costner’s 1994 western “Wyatt Earp,” a violent sidekick to Robert De Niro’s career criminal in the 1995 heist movie “Heat,” and a paramedic with a messianic complex in Martin Scorsese’s 1999 psychodrama “Bringing Out the Dead.”
In “The Relic,” a horror movie from 1997, Sizemore played another police detective for the first time in a significant role. In 2000, his role as a mob informant in “Witness Protection” got him a Golden Globe Award nomination for best actor in a miniseries or made-for-TV movie.
But he is best known for his roles as battle-hardened soldiers in two movies: “Saving Private Ryan,” by Steven Spielberg, and “Black Hawk Down,” by Ridley Scott, about the U.S. military’s, failed 1993 raid in Mogadishu, Somalia.
Sizemore’s lead role as a police detective in the short-lived CBS TV show “Robbery Homicide Division” earned him much praise. He used to play an enlisted man who falls in love with the main character played by Dana Delany on ABC’s Vietnam War drama “China Beach.”
Sizemore’s career was mostly overshadowed by his problems, which were caused by his long-term drug abuse, which got him in and out of jail and drug rehab, and by his relationship with Heidi Fleiss, who used to be a Hollywood whore.
In 2003, he was found guilty of domestic violence against Fleiss during their stormy one-year relationship. He was sentenced to six months in jail. Fleiss, who went to prison in the 1990s for running a call-girl ring for Hollywood’s rich and famous, said that Sizemore stubbed out a cigarette on her and once knocked her down outside his house.
Sizemore denied the charges but did not testify at his trial. In a letter to the judge, he said he had “allowed my demons to take over my life.” The actor, who was 41 at the time, also wrote that he was “sure that if I hadn’t been high, I would have been able to control my behavior.”
Actor Tom Sizemore dies at age 61 after suffering a brain aneurysm. pic.twitter.com/SZnvYoCicn
— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) March 4, 2023
A separate charge of possessing methamphetamine led to a court order to go to drug rehab. In 2005, he was sent to jail for breaking the terms of his probation from domestic violence and meth convictions. He did this by failing a drug urine test and trying to fake the results using a Whizzinator, a fake penis.
Sizemore’s probation was made legal again after he went to a mental hospital to get help for his long-term depression and drug abuse, which a doctor said he had been dealing with for years. In 2016, he was arrested again on suspicion of domestic abuse. The following year, he pleaded “no contest,” which is the same as “guilty,” and was given three years of probation in California.
Sizemore used his fame and history of addiction to get on the third season of “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew” on VH1. He was on the show with Fleiss. Sizemore’s 2013 autobiography, “By Some Miracle, I Made It Out of There,” told the story of his troubled life.