Mr. T (born Laurence Tureaud, May 21, 1952) is an actor mostly known for his roles in the 1980s television series The A-Team and as boxer Clubber Lang in the movie, Rocky III.
Acting roles and work
In The A-Team, he played Sergeant Bosco "Bad Attitude" Baracus, an ex-army commando on the run with three other members from the US government "for crimes they didn't commit". Mr. T is famous for his customized trademark Mohawk-style haircut and for the numerous gold chains, rings and bracelets he wears. His catch phrase, "I pity the fool!" comes from Rocky III, where he played a boxer facing Rocky Balboa in a match. When asked if he hated Rocky, he replied, "I don't hate Balboa, I pity the fool." This exchange, also from the movie:
Interviewer: What's your prediction for the fight?
Clubber Lang: My prediction?
Interviewer: Yes, your prediction.
[Clubber looks into camera]
Clubber Lang: Pain!
became another catch phrase.
In 1982 Mr. T was spotted by Sylvester Stallone while taking part in "The World's Toughest Bouncer" contest. His role in Rocky III was originally intended as just a few lines, but Stallone built up the part around the man. "Mr. T" also appeared in another boxing film, Penitentiary 2, and in a cable television special, Bizarre, before accepting the role of B.A. in The A-Team. When asked at a press conference whether he was as stupid as B.A. Baracus, he observed quietly, "It takes a smart guy to play dumb."
Mr. T is 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) tall and very tough looking. His gold jewelry is genuine and worth around $300,000. He acquired the jewelry during his stint as a bouncer, where he would take jewelry from disorderly people and wear them himself. His jewelry is mostly a testament to how well he performed his job as a bouncer. It takes him about an hour to put it on, and most nights he cleans it in an ultrasonic cleaner although some nights he sleeps in it "to see how my ancestors, who were slaves, felt." Mr. T sold most of his jewelry during his bout with cancer, but has appeared on television wearing his signature gold chains since then. He was once reported to be earning around $80,000 a week for his role in The A-Team and getting $15,000 for personal appearances, but by the end of the 1990s, he was appearing only in the occasional commercial, largely because of health problems. In 1995, Mr. T was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma.
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Laurence Tureaud was born in Chicago, Illinois, the eleventh of twelve children; he and his four sisters and seven brothers grew up in the city's housing projects. He was a college football star, studied martial arts, and won a scholarship to Prairie View A&M University, Texas, but was thrown out after a year. After that he went to a couple of small Chicago colleges on athletic scholarships. After leaving college he was a Military Policeman in the U.S. Army before trying out for the Green Bay Packers. His professional football career was finished, however, by a knee injury. After this, his aspirations were set higher - the first in his family to become a broadway dancer. He began on his journey by making connections to the celebrity community.
For about nine years Mr. T was a bodyguard to the stars, protecting such well-known personalities as Muhammad Ali, Michael Jackson, and Diana Ross. He charged around $3,000 a day and his business card famously read, "Next to God, there is no better protector than I." He always boasts that he never lost a client, saying, "I got hurt worse growing up in the ghetto than working as a bodyguard."
In 1970 he changed his name by deed poll from Laurence Tureaud to Laurence Tero and then in 1980 to "Mr. T" so that people would have to address him as "Mr." It was while reading National Geographic that Mr. T first saw the unusual hairstyle for which he is now famous, on an African Mandinka warrior. He decided that adopting the style was a powerful statement about his African origins. Another theory is that Mr. T wanted his hair cut in the shape of a "T," so that when people asked him his name, he would show them the "T" on his head. However, the haircut went awry, so, to save face, he decided to say that he cut his hair in the same fashion as the Mandinka warriors.
A Ruby-Spears produced cartoon called Mr. T premiered in 1983 on NBC. The Mr. T cartoon starred Mr. T as himself, the owner of a gym where a group of gymnasts trained. He would help them with their training, but they would also help him solve mysteries and fight crime. Sixteen episodes were produced.
In 1984, Mr. T made a motivational video called "Be Somebody or Be Somebody's Fool." He gives helpful advice to children throughout the video; for example, he teaches them how to understand and appreciate their origins, how to dress fashionably without buying designer labels, how to control their anger, and how to deal with peer pressure. The video is roughly one hour long, but contains 30 minutes of singing, either by the mob of children accompanying Mr. T, or by Mr. T himself. Mr. T sings "Treat Your Mother Right (Treat Her Right)," (video available here) in which he enumerates the reasons why it is important to treat your mother right, and also raps a song about growing up in the ghetto and praising God. The raps in this video were written by Ice T.
In 1986 Mr. T removed many trees from his mansion in Lake Forest, Illinois explaining that he had allergies. This created a large controversy and led several North Shore communities to enact ordinances making the removal of old growth trees illegal.
"Mr. T" entered the world of professional wrestling in 1985. He was Hulk Hogan's tag-team partner at the first WrestleMania. Hulk Hogan wrote in his autobiography that Mr. T almost ruined the main event of WrestleMania I between them and "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff, because when he arrived, security would not let his entourage into the building. Mr. T was ready to skip the show until Hogan personally talked him out of leaving. Roddy Piper mentioned that he and other fellow wrestlers legitimately disliked Mr. T, because he was an actor coming into wrestling, and had not paid his dues as a professional wrestler. He returned to the World Wrestling Federation as a special guest referee in 1987, before disappearing from the wrestling world. He reappeared as a special referee for a Hogan-Ric Flair match, seven years later, in October 1994.
In 2005, Mr T announced he would never wear his chains again saying, ?No, T, you can never wear your gold again. ?It's an insult to God." He came to this decision after seeing the tragic effects of Hurricane Katrina. Mr. T, also donated many clothes and money to Katrina victims. He has been reported to be working on a new reality television show for TV Land, called I Pity the Fool, which will find the devout Christian assisting those in need.
Mr. T poses with Seanbaby
Mr. T poses with Seanbaby
Mr. T is famous on the Internet for two phenomena that were created to honor him. The first, Mr. T Ate My Balls, quickly became applied to other celebrities. The other, Mr. T. vs..., is a phenomenon of web pages depicting Mr. T fighting other celebrities, political figures, fictional characters, and other famous people in multi-page online comic books, made with rather substandard photo editing and doctoring techniques. Mr. T traditionally wins the contest, later to relax with a glass of milk.
The 2004 Veggie Tales DVD Sumo of the Opera is a parody of the Rocky franchise and features a character, Po Ta To, based on Mr. T's role in Rocky III as Clubber Lang. Po Ta To sports a mohawk similar to Mr. T's, utters the catchphrase, "I pity the clown!" and is amused by his opponent's "jibber-jabber."
Mr. T is a born-again Christian, and he frequently appears on the TBN Christian television series. He recently was the subject of a sketch on British comedy show Little Britain. He is also the subject of recurring "The All New Adventures Of Mr.T" sketch on Saturday Night Live by Robert Smigel, in which Mr. T and a group of teenagers drive around in a van, ? la Scooby-Doo, and have adventures while Mr. T tries to find work. He has also appeared in commercials for MCI's 1-800-COLLECT collect-call service.
He lives in Sherman Oaks, California, and is single. Mr. T still seeks acting jobs and has had small roles in several films. There is currently a campaign to have Mr. T on LBC, a London-based radio station, all carried out by Iain Lee, a British comedian. However on September 10 Iain Lee read out the letter which had been sent by Mr. T's Agent, it stated 'Mr. T would not like to take part in a local radio station,' as a result Iain Lee's LBC producer is not using soundbytes of Mr T. As a promise Lee had said during a show "If I can't get Mr. T by Christmas I will resign!"; this predicament is seeming likelier. He has also made a few appearances on Late Night with Conan O'Brian.
Album cover to Mr. T's Commandments.
Album cover to Mr. T's Commandments.
Mr. T in 1984 released a rap album titled Mr. T's Commandments much in the same tone as his '84 educational video which instructs children to stay in school and to stay away from drugs.
- Mr. T's Commandments
- Dont Talk to Strangers
- The Toughest Man in the World
- Mr. T, Mr. T (He Was Made for Love)
- The One and Only Mr. T
- No Dope No Drugs
- You Got to Go Through It
Album length: 31:14
* Rocky VI (2007) .... Clubber Lang
* Johnny Bravo (2005) .... Himself
* The Simpsons (2004) .... Himself
* Not Another Teen Movie (2001)....The Wise Janitor
* Apocalypse IV: Judgment (2001) .... J. T. Quincy
* Judgment (2000) .... J. T. Quincy
* Inspector Gadget (1999) .... Himself
* Saturday Night Live: The Best of Eddie Murphy (1998) (Video) .... Mister Robinson's Neighbor
* Spy Hard (1996) .... Helicopter Pilot
* Magic of the Golden Bear: Goldy III (1994)
* Freaked (1993) .... The Bearded Lady (1993)
* T. and T. (1988) TV Series .... T. S. Turner
* Wrestlemania II (1986) (Video) .... Himself
* Wrestlemania (1985) (Video) .... Himself
* WWF Superstars of Wrestling (1984) TV Series .... Himself (1985-1986, 1988)
* Be Somebody or Be Somebody's Fool! (1984) (Video) .... Mr. T
* The Toughest Man in the World (1984) (TV) .... Bruise Brubaker
* Mister T (1983) TV Series .... Himself
* D.C. Cab (1983) .... Samson
* The A-Team (1983-1987) TV Series .... Sergeant Bosco "B.A." Baracus
* Twilight Theatre (1982) TV Series
* Rocky III (1982) .... Clubber Lang
* Penitentiary II (1982) .... Himself