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5 Things You Don't Know About Scientology Leader David Miscavige

USMagazine, Thursday, July 5, 2012, 5:00pm (PDT)

When Tom Cruise swapped vows with Katie Holmes on November 18, 2006, at Italy's famed Odescalchi Castle, celebs including Jennifer Lopez, Will Smith and Victoria Beckham looked on, but perhaps the closest friend present at the superstar nuptials was none other than his best man, David Miscavige.

As the head of the Church of Scientology, Miscavige proved to be a shoulder to lean on for Cruise, now 50, a longtime member of the organization. As Cruise's wife, 33, filed to divorce the Oblivion actor after five years of marriage, Us Weekly uncovers need-to-know info about the 52-year-old once described by the U.K.'s Sun as the "third person" in the Cruise-Holmes union.

VIDEO: What went wrong for Tom and Katie

1. Raised Roman Catholic, the Philadelphia-born Miscavige was first introduced to Scientology by his father, who sent young David to a Scientologist in order to cure his asthma and allergies through a Dianetics session. At age 16, Miscavige dropped out of high school with his father's permission and joined the Sea Organization, an association of Scientologists established by founder L. Ron Hubbard. Six years later, he was working directly for Hubbard as an assistant, or "Commodore's Messenger," and assumed his current leadership role in the 1980s.

2. Miscavige's wife, Michelle "Shelly" Miscavige -- a fellow Sea Org member who is said to have set up Cruise and Holmes in 2005 -- has not been seen in public since 2007, and the Scientology leader's name has come up in connection with her disappearance. The New Yorker's Lawrence Wright alleges that Shelly disappeared after the woman "filled several job vacancies without her husband’s permission."

PHOTOS: Tom and Katie in happier times

3. His own wife's whereabouts are unknown, but back in November 2006, he is said to have tagged along with Cruise and Holmes on their honeymoon cruise to the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. A representative for the church, however, denies such reports. "This is so stupid. I don't know how many times I have to say it: It is absolutely, 100 percent not true. Mr. Miscavige was not there," the rep said at the time.

PHOTOS: How Katie morphed during her Tom Cruise marriage

4. His family members have spoken out in support of Holmes. "My experience in growing up in Scientology is that it is both mentally and at times physically abusive," Miscavige's niece, former Scientologist Jenna Miscavige Hill, told The Hollywood Reporter. "We got a lousy education from unqualified teachers, forced labor, long hours, forced confessions, being held in rooms, not to mention the mental anguish of trying to figure out all of the conflicting information they force upon you as a young child. ... As a mother myself, I offer my support to Katie and wish for her all the strength she will need to do what is best for her and her daughter."

PHOTOS: Suri's high-profile childhood

5. As Holmes petitions for sole custody of daughter Suri, 6, it is a safe bet Cruise will lean heavily on pal Miscavige, whom the actor says is a true friend. "I have never met a more competent, more intelligent, more tolerant, more compassionate being outside of what I've experienced from [founder of Scientology] L. Ron Hubbard," Cruise has said.

This article originally appeared on Usmagazine.com: 5 Things You Don't Know About Scientology Leader David Miscavige

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