Mr. T in 2009.
Born Laurence Tureaud
May 21, 1952
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Occupation Actor, motivational speaker, wrestler, bodyguard, television personality Years active 1982–present
Mr. T (born Laurence Tureaud; May 21, 1952) is an American actor known for his roles as B. A. Baracus in the 1980s television series The A-Team, as boxer Clubber Lang in the 1982 film Rocky III, and for his appearances as a professional wrestler. Mr. T is known for his trademark African Mandinka warrior hairstyle, his gold jewelry, and his tough-guy image. In 2006 he starred in the reality show I Pity the Fool, shown on TV Land, the title of which comes from the catchphrase of his character, Clubber Lang, in the 1982 film Rocky III.
Mr. T was born in Chicago, Illinois, the youngest son in a family with twelve children. His father, Nathaniel Tureaud Sr., was a minister. Tureaud, with his four sisters and seven brothers, grew up in a three-room apartment in one of the city's housing projects, the Robert Taylor Homes, in a poorly constructed building, in an area with high levels of environmental pollutants and the largest concentration of poverty in America. While growing up Tureaud regularly witnessed murder, rape, and other crimes, but attributes his survival and later success to his will to do well and his mother's love.
Tureaud attended Dunbar Vocational High School, where he played football, wrestled, and studied martial arts. While at Dunbar he became the city-wide wrestling champion two years in a row. He won a football scholarship to Prairie View A&M University, where he majored in mathematics, but was expelled after his first year. He then enlisted in the United States Army and served in the Military Police Corps. In November 1975 Tureaud was awarded a letter of recommendation by his drill sergeant and in a cycle of six thousand troops Tureaud was elected "Top Trainee of the Cycle" and was also promoted to Squad Leader. In July 1976 Tureaud's platoon sergeant punished him by giving him the detail of chopping down trees during training camp at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, but the sergeant did not tell how many trees to stop at, and so Tureaud had single-handedly chopped down over seventy trees from 6:30am to 10:00am until a higher ranking major in shock relieved him, superseding the sergeant's orders. After his discharge, he tried out for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League, but failed to make the team due to a knee injury.
Tureaud next worked as a bouncer. It was at this time that he created the persona of Mr. T. His wearing of gold neck chains and other jewelry was the result of customers losing the items or leaving them behind at the night club after a fight. A customer, who may have been banned from the club or trying to avoid another confrontation, would not have to re-enter the club if Mr. T wore their jewelry as he stood out front. When a customer returned to claim the item, it was readily visible and available with no further confrontations required. Along with controlling the violence as a doorman, Tureaud was mainly hired to keep out drug dealers and users. During his bouncing days Tureaud was in over 200 fights and was sued a number of times[vague] but won each case. "I have been in and out of the courts as a result of my beating up somebody. I have been sued by customers whom I threw out that claimed that I viciously attacked them without just cause and/or I caused them great bodily harm as a result of a beating I supposedly gave them," Mr. T once remarked.
He eventually parlayed his job as a bouncer into a career as a bodyguard that lasted almost ten years. During these years he protected, among others, sixteen prostitutes, nine welfare recipients, five preachers, eight bankers, ten school teachers, and four store owners. As his reputation improved, however, he was contracted to guard, among others, David Fricker, seven clothes designers, five models, seven judges, three politicians, six athletes and forty-two millionaires. He protected well-known personalities like Muhammad Ali, Steve McQueen, Michael Jackson, Leon Spinks, Joe Frazier and Diana Ross, charging $3,000/day, with the highest charge of $10,000 per day depending on the clientele's risk-rate and traveling locations.
With his reputation as "Mr. T", Tureaud attracted strange offers and was frequently approached with odd commissions, which included: assassination, tracking runaway teenagers, locating missing persons, and large firms asking him to collect past-due payments by force. Tureaud was once anonymously offered $75,000 to assassinate a target and received in the mail a file of the hit and an advance of $5,000, but he refused it. "He offered me $75,000 to kill his friend. The last envelope and letter contained a round-trip airline ticket, first class, United. Plus there was $5,000 wrapped in a little package, fifty and hundred dollar bills. I tell you the honest truth, when I saw that money I didn't believe it was real." -Mr. T. Tureaud states that he tried to warn the victim but it was too late and the man died in a car accident. In accepting a client for Tureaud there were two rules: 1) A client cannot lie to him. 2) All potential clients are required to shop around the field of security before coming to him. He also made it clear to the client beforehand that he could not promise them their lives, "I did everything except guarantee people's lives, but I guarantee you that I will give my life protecting yours". He carried a .357 magnum and a .38 caliber snubnose pistol. He weighed an average of 255 pounds.
While he was in his late twenties, Tureaud won two tough-man competitions consecutively. The first aired as "Sunday Games" on NBC-TV under the contest of "America's Toughest Bouncer" which included throwing a 150 lb stuntman, and breaking through a four-inch wooden door. For the first event, Tureaud came in third place. For the end, two finalists squared off in a boxing ring for a two-minute round to declare the champion. Making it to the ring as a finalist, his opponent was a 280 pound Honolulu bouncer, Tutefano Tufi. Within twenty seconds "Mr. T" gave the six foot five competitor a bloody nose, and later a bloody mouth. He won the match and thus the competition. The second competition was aired under the new name "Games People Play" on NBC-TV. When interviewed by Bryant Gumbel before the final boxing match, Mr T. said, "I just feel sorry for the guy who I have to box. I just feel real sorry for him." For this second competition the final event of the fight was scheduled to last three rounds, but Mr. T finished the fight in less than 54 seconds. When Sylvester Stallone spotted Mr. T in this second airing, it is strongly believed that the interview with Bryant Gumbel was worked into the scene of the Rocky movie that originated his famous line "I don't hate him but...I pity the fool."
Acting roles and work
While reading National Geographic, Mr. T first noticed the unusual hairstyle for which he is now famous, on a Mandinka warrior. He decided that adoption of the style would be a powerful statement about his African origin. It was a simpler, safer and more permanent visual signature than his gold chains, rings, and bracelets. The gold jewelry was worth about $300,000 at the time and took him about an hour to put on. Most nights, Mr. T spent even more time cleaning them using an ultrasonic cleaner. Occasionally, he slept with the heavy neck chains and bracelets on, "to see how my ancestors, who were slaves, felt."
In 1980, Mr. T was spotted by Sylvester Stallone while taking part in NBC's "America's Toughest Bouncer" competition, a segment of NBC's Games People Play. Although his role in Rocky III was originally intended as just a few lines, Mr. T was eventually cast as Clubber Lang, the primary antagonist. His catchphrase "I pity the fool!" comes from the film; when asked if he hates Rocky, Lang replies, "No, I don't hate Balboa, but I pity the fool." Subsequently, after losing out on the role of the title character's mentor in The Beastmaster, Mr. T appeared in another boxing film, Penitentiary 2, and on an episode of Showtime's early sketch comedy series Bizarre, where he fights and eats Super Dave Osborne, before accepting a television series role on The A-Team.
Mr. T also appeared in an episode of Silver Spoons, reprising his old role as bodyguard to Ricky Stratton. In the episode, he explains his name as "First name: Mister; middle name: period; last name T." In one scene, when Ricky's class erupts into a paper-ball-throwing melee, Mr. T throws his body in front of the objects, fully protecting his client.
In The A-Team, he played Sergeant Bosco "B.A." Baracus, an ex-Army commando on the run with three other members from the United States government "for a crime they didn't commit." As well as the team's tough guy, B.A. was a genius mechanic but afraid of flying. When asked at a press conference whether he was as stupid as B.A. Baracus, Mr. T observed quietly, "It takes a smart guy to play dumb."
His role in The A-Team led to him making an appearance in the long-running sit-com Diff'rent Strokes in the sixth season opener "Mr T. and mr. t" (1983), in which an episode of The A-Team is supposedly filmed in the family's penthouse apartment.
A Ruby-Spears-produced cartoon called Mister T premiered in 1983 on NBC. The Mister T cartoon starred Mr. T as himself, the owner of a gym where a group of gymnasts trained. He helped them with their training but they also helped him solve mysteries and fight crime in Scooby-Doo-style scenarios. Thirty episodes were produced.
In 1984, he 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 make tripping up look like breakdancing, 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 group of children accompanying him, or by Mr. T himself. He sings "Treat Your Mother Right (Treat Her Right)," 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 1988, Mr. T starred in the television series T. and T. Mr. T was once reported to be earning around $80,000 a week for his role in The A-Team and earning $15,000 for personal appearances. By the end of the 1990s, he was appearing only in the occasional commercial, largely because of health problems (in 1995, he was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma). He frequently appears on the TBN Christian television network. He has appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. He has also appeared on some Comcast commercials, and in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand during 2007, advertising the chocolate bar Snickers with the slogan "Get Some Nuts!" One of these commercials, featuring Mr. T crashing through a wall on the back of a technical vehicle before firing Snickers bars at a speed walker wearing tight-fitting yellow shorts, was pulled by Mars following a complaint by the U.S.-based group Human Rights Campaign, despite the fact that the advert had never been shown outside the U.K. The group alleged that the commercial promoted the idea that violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people "is not only acceptable, but humorous." Mr. T has distanced himself from these accusations, insisting that he would never lend his name to something that supports such beliefs, and that the commercials did not depict such promotions. The commercials are still shown on Australian and UK television.
Mr. T did a video campaign for Hitachi's Data Systems that was created and posted on consumer video sites including YouTube and Yahoo! Video. According to Steven Zivanic, senior director and corporate communications of HDS, "this campaign has not only helped the firm in its own area, but it has given the data storage firm a broader audience." In November 2007, Mr. T appeared in a television commercial for the online role playing game World of Warcraft with the phrase "I'm Mr. T and I'm a Night Elf Mohawk". A follow-up to this commercial appeared in November 2009 where he appeared promoting the "mohawk grenade" item, which appears in game and turns other players into Mr. T's likeness.
In 2008, Mr. T appeared on the American channel Shopping TV selling his "Mr. T Flavorwave Oven." A video game starring Mr T. is also being developed by ZootFly. Mr. T was offered a cameo appearance in the film adaptation of The A-Team, but decided to turn it down, whereas Dwight Schultz and Dirk Benedict were both to make cameos in the film, before 20th Century Fox cut out the scenes. (George Peppard died in 1994).
In the 2009 movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (film), Mr. T provided the voice for Officer Earl Devereaux, the town's athletic cop who loves his son very much.
Mr. T entered the world of professional wrestling in 1985. He was Hulk Hogan's tag-team partner at the World Wrestling Federation's (WWF) first WrestleMania which he won. Hulk Hogan wrote in his autobiography that Mr. T saved 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. Piper has said that he and other fellow wrestlers disliked Mr. T because he was an actor and had never paid his dues as a professional wrestler.
Remaining with the WWF, Mr. T became a special "WWF boxer" in light of his character in Rocky III. He took on "Cowboy" Bob Orton on the March 1, 1986 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event, on NBC. This boxing stunt ultimately culminated in another boxing match against Roddy Piper at WrestleMania 2. Mr. T returned to the World Wrestling Federation as a special guest referee in 1987 as well as a special referee enforcer confronting such stars as the Honky Tonk Man.
Seven years later, Mr. T reappeared as a special referee for a Hogan-Ric Flair match, in October 1994, at WCW's Halloween Havoc, and then went on to wrestle again, defeating Kevin Sullivan at that year's Starrcade. Another seven years later Mr. T appeared in the front row of the November 19, 2001, episode of WWF Raw.
In 1984, Mr. T released an album titled Mr. T's Commandments (Columbia/CBS Records), much in the same tone as his 1984 educational video, which instructed children to stay in school and to stay away from drugs. He followed it up with a second album the same year, titled Mr. T's Be Somebody... or Be Somebody's Fool! (MCA Records), which featured music from the film of the same name. In 2002, Mr. T appeared in the video for "Pass The Courvoisier" by Busta Rhymes featuring P. Diddy and Pharell Williams.
Mr. T is a born-again Christian.
He gave up virtually all his gold, one of his identifying marks, after helping with the cleanup of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He said, "As a Christian, when I saw other people lose their lives and lose their land and property... I felt that it would be a sin before God for me to continue wearing my gold. I felt it would be insensitive and disrespectful to the people who lost everything, so I stopped wearing my gold."
Film and Television Year Title Role Notes 1982 Penitentiary II Himself 1982 Rocky III James "Clubber" Lang 1982 Twilight Theatre TV Series 1983 D.C. Cab Samson 1983 Mister T Himself TV Series 1983 Diff'rent Strokes Himself TV Series 1983 Alvin and the Chipmunks Himself Episode: "The C Team" 1983–
The A-Team Sergeant Bosco "B.A." Baracus TV Series 1984 The Toughest Man in the World Bruise Brubaker TV 1984 Be Somebody... or Be Somebody's Fool! Himself Video 1984–
WWF Superstars of Wrestling Himself TV Series 1985 WrestleMania Himself Video 1986 WrestleMania 2 Himself Video 1987 Alice Through the Looking Glass Jabberwock TV movie 1988–
T. and T. T. S. Turner TV Series 1993 Freaked The Bearded Lady 1993 The Terrible Thunderlizards Mr. T-Rex 1994 Blossom Himself TV Series 1994 Magic of the Golden Bear: Goldy III Freedom 1995 Kids Against Crime Himself TBN 1996 Spy Hard Helicopter Pilot 1998 Saturday Night Live: The Best of Eddie Murphy Mister Robinson's neighbour Video 1999 Inspector Gadget Himself 1999 Malcolm and Eddie Calvin Episode: "The Wrongest Yard" 2001 Not Another Teen Movie The Wise Janitor 2001 Judgment J. T. Quincy Cloud Ten Pictures 2004 Johnny Bravo Himself "T is for Trouble" 2004 The Simpsons Himself Episode: "Today I Am a Clown" 2005 Return of the Lads Lad No 3 with Mark Egan and Cian Duffy 2006 I Pity the Fool Himself 2009 The One Show Himself 2009 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Earl Devereaux 2011 World's Craziest Fools Himself BBC Three
- ^ Dunn, Brad (2006). When They Were 22: 100 Famous People at the Turning Point in Their Lives. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 150. ISBN 0740758101.
- ^ Kleban, Barbara. "article on Mr. T's family ties". People.com. http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20088784,00.html. Retrieved 2010-04-24.
- ^ Mr. T, Mr. T: The Man with the Gold (St. Martin's Press, New York City), p. 41. ISBN 0-312-55089-8
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- ^ Mr. T, p. 234
- ^ Mentioned in a number of interviews, including Mr. T: Pity The Fool, allhiphop.com, Published Thursday, November 09, 2006. Mr. T gives a 1977 date, for an article with photos on the Mandinka in Mali. National Geographic Magazine's index has no record of such an article. Nationalgeographic.com
- ^ "TVacres.com". TVacres.com. http://www.tvacres.com/jewelry_mr_t.htm. Retrieved 2010-04-24.
- ^ "Biography of Mr. T". Starpulse.com. 1939-11-16. http://www.starpulse.com/Actors/Mr._T/Biography/. Retrieved 2010-04-24.
- ^ "Ice-T IMDb bio". http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001384/#musicX20department1980. Retrieved 2010-06-10.
- ^ Keck, William (2005-09-14). "USA Today - For Mr. T, gold chains are out, helping is in". http://www.usatoday.com/life/people/2005-09-14-mr-t_x.htm. Retrieved 2010-02-10.
- ^ "Get some nuts | Snickers". Getsomenuts.tv. 2010-01-13. http://getsomenuts.tv/. Retrieved 2010-04-24.
- ^ "Mr. T Ad Pulled In Anti-Gay Row". Sky News. 2008-07-29. http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/UK-News/Mars-Pulls-Mr-T-Snickers-Ad-Over-Gay-Row/Article/200807415059196?lpos=UK%2BNews_1&lid=ARTICLE_15059196_Mars%2BPulls%2BMr%2BT%2BSnickers%2BAd%2BOver%2BGay%2BRow.
- ^ "Mr. T attracts viewers, buyers for Hitachi". DMNews. http://www.dmnews.com/cms/dm-news/internet-marketing/42045.html. Retrieved 2010-04-24.
- ^ "World of Warcraft Europe - Downloads - Movies - TV Commercials". Wow-europe.com. http://www.wow-europe.com/en/downloads/commercials.html#mrt. Retrieved 2010-04-24.
- ^ "Thane.com". Thane.com. http://www.thane.com/products/housewares/flavorwave-turbo/flavorwave-turbo.php. Retrieved 2010-04-24.
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- ^ "News: Exclusive: Sorry Fans, Mr. T Will Not Appear In The A-Team Remake". Latino Review. 2009-12-24. http://www.latinoreview.com/news/exclusive-sorry-fans-mr-t-will-not-appear-in-the-a-team-remake-8869. Retrieved 2010-05-17.
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- ^ ""Prescription:Murder" and "The A-Team"". Dirk Benedict Central. http://www.dirkbenedictcentral.com/home/headline-readarticle.php?nid=45. Retrieved 2010-08-18.
- ^ Mr. T To Host 'World's Craziest Fools'
- ^ "Slashwrestling.com". Slashwrestling.com. 2001-11-19. http://slashwrestling.com/raw/011119.html. Retrieved 2010-04-24.
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- ^ . February 25, 2009. http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/Showbiz-News/A-Team-Star-Mr-T-Decides-To-Stop-Wearing-Gold-Jewellery-Out-Of-Respect-For-Hurricane-Katrina-Victims/Article/200902415229268. Retrieved June 15, 2011.
- Mr. T at the Internet Movie Database
- Mohawk Media Mr. T site
- TV Land's official I Pity The Fool page
- Legendary TV's Mr. T profile
- Mr. T discusses his Christian faith
- Mr T. talks technology
- Mr. T on a late 70s Local Chicago TV Show -- discussing being Leon Spinks bodyguard
Mr. T Television career Wrestling career Albums ComicsMr. T and the T-Force · Mr. T · The A-Team Video games Advertisement campaigns Miscellaneous The A-Team Characters Other"Mexican Slayride" (pilot episode) · The A-Team (film) · The A-Team (comics)
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