Tom Sizemore, who starred in Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down and in hundreds of other film and TV roles over three-plus decades, died Friday at a hospital in Burbank. He was 61 and had been in a coma since suffering a stroke February 18 that resulted in brain aneurysm.
His manager Charles Lago confirmed the news this evening, saying Sizemore passed away peacefully in his sleep at St Joseph’s Hospital, with his brother Paul and twin boys Jayden and Jagger at his side.
“The Sizemore family has been comforted by the hundreds of messages of support and love shown to their son, brother and father,” Lago said in a statement. “They are asking for privacy during this difficult time and I am asking for those wishes to please be respected.”
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Said Sizemore’s brother Paul: “I am deeply saddened by the loss of my big brother Tom. He was larger than life. He has influenced my life more than anyone I know. He was talented, loving, giving and could keep you entertained endlessly with his wit and storytelling ability. I am devastated he is gone and will miss him always.”
Sizemore starred or was a major player in dozens of films and worked with such acclaimed directors as Steven Spielberg, Michael Mann, Arthur Penn and multiple times with Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone, Kathryn Bigelow, Tony Scott and Lawrence Kasdan. His list of 200-plus credits includes the features Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down, Heat, Natural Born Killers, Pearl Harbor, Wyatt Earp, Passenger 57, Bringing Out the Dead, The Relic, Strange Days, Red Planet, Dreamcatcher, Flight of the Intruder, Guilty by Suspicion, Bad Love and many more.
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On the small screen, Sizemore toplined the short-lived 2002 CBS cop drama Robbery Homicide Division, playing the head of that LAPD unit. He also recurred on such series as Law & Order: SVU, China Beach, Shooter, The Red Road, Crash, Dr. Vegas, the Hawaii Five-O revival and 2017’s Twin Peaks.
Sizemore also voiced the key role of mob boss Sonny Forelli in 2002’s Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, which moved more than 1.4 million copies in its first two days to become the fast-selling video game ever at the time. It had sold some 8.2 million units by 2008.
Born on November 29, 1961 in Detroit, Sizemore began to land small film roles in the late 1980s, appearing in Penn’s Penn & Teller Get Killed, Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July and Bigelow’s Blue Steel, among others. By the early ’90s, he would start landing larger parts, starring with Dylan McDermott and Sharon Stone in Where Sleeping Dogs Lie and leading the crime drama Bad Love. He also starred with Bruce WIllis and Sarah Jessica Parker in the 1993 thriller Striking Distance and as the detective who pursues Mickley and Mallory (Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis) in Stone’s Natural Born Killers (1994).
After co-starring with Denzel Washington in 1995’s Devil in a Blue Dress, Sizemore played the key role of Michael in Cheritto in Heat, Mann’s classic crime thriller starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, along with Val Kilmer and Jon Voight. He then landed his first major leading role, starring opposite Penelope Ann Miller in Peter Hyams’ 1997 sci-fi/horror pic The Relic.
But Sizemore perhaps in best known for his role in Spielberg’s Best Picture Oscar-nominated Saving Private Ryan. He played Army Ranger Mike Horvath, the longtime friend and second-in-command to Tom Hanks’ Capt. John Miller, who was leading a rescue mission for a missing soldier whose three brothers were killed on D-Day. Known for its brutal realism, including the harrowing 20-minute opening scene depicting the Omaha Beach landing, the film was a favorite to win Best Picture at the Oscars but lost in a major upset to Shakespeare in Love.
About the same time, Sizemore also was offered a role in another World War II film, Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line, but opted for Saving Private Ryan.
Sizemore had a long history of substance abuse, and he told The Calgary Sun in 2001 that he entered a rehab program after his mother and De Niro appeared on his doorstep during the filming of telepic Witness to the Mob in 1998. Proclaiming that they either were going to drive him to jail or to rehab, Sizemore chose the latter. After he completed the program, he counseled teens about substance abuse. Sizemore later appeared on the VH1 reality series Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew and Sober House in the early 2010s.
“I should have been dead many times over, and honestly, I didn’t know that I was going to come back from the bottom I dropped to,” Sizemore told Deadline in a 2013 interview as he announced a memoir. “The fact that I’m now sober over two years — and that I’m acting as much as I did before — proves that people can overcome obstacles even when they’re sure they can’t. I hope that this book can inspire other people to never give up.”
His book, By Some Miracle I Made It Out of There: A Memoir, was published in 2016.
He had some run-ins with the law, including a 2019 arrest for drug possession and sexual misconduct allegations in 2003. His accuser sued the actor in 2017 amid the #MeToo movement, which led to him losing a film role, but a judge dismissed the case in 2020. Sizemore always had denied the accusations.
In 2016, Sizemore was involved in an accident that injured a stuntman on the set of the USA Network series Shooter at the Agua Dulce Airport north of Los Angeles. The actor was driving an SUV that accidentally struck Steve DeCastro, partially trapping him beneath it. His injuries were described as “moderate,” but he sued the actor, Viacom and Paramount five months later. The case was settled in 2018.
Sizemore was married to soap actress Maeve Quinlan from 1996-99 and was linked romantically over the years to the likes of Sharon Stone and Elizabeth Hurley. He also had a fiery fling with former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss.
“My heartfelt condolences to the entire Sizemore family and Tom’s longtime manager, Charles Lago,” Quinlan said tonight. “Most especially, my thoughts and prayers go out to Tom’s two sons, Jayden and Jagger. May God hold you both in the palm of his hand, give you strength and bless you all the days of your lives.”
Lago said there will be a private cremation service for the family with a larger celebration of life event planned in a few weeks.
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