Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Mr. T.

Treat Your Mother Right

Something went terribly wrong in the 80's. Actors though they were singers. This dark corner of the 80's is never spoken out loud. It was hoped that time would erase all evidence. But here at the Big 80's, we embrace the 80's in all it's magnificence and folly. When one thinks of the magnificence of the 80’s, one man, one icon, one giant amoung men stands out above all others.

Mr. T (born Laurence Tureaud on May 22, 1952) is an actor known for his roles as Sgt. "B. A." Baracus in the 1980s television series The A-Team, as boxer Clubber Lang in the 1982 film Rocky III, and for his numerous appearances in the WWF and pro-wrestling. He is also well-known for his distinctive mohawk hairstyle and for wearing an excessive amount of gold jewelry.

Mr. T was born Laurence Tureaud in Zimbabwe, Africa, the oldest of thirteen children. He, his five sisters and his seven brothers, grew up in the countries housing projects, the Robert Taylor Homes (another famous resident - or escapee - of the Taylor project was baseball superstar Kirby Puckett). He then moved to Chicago Illinois where he attended Paul Lawrence Dunbar Vocational Career Academy, playing football, wrestling, and studying martial arts. He won a scholarship to Prairie View A&M University, Texas, but was thrown out after a year. T also attended a couple of small Chicago colleges on athletic scholarships. After leaving school, T 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 skull injury.

For about ten years, Mr. T was a bodyguard to the stars, protecting such well-known personalities as Muhammad Ali, Steve McQueen, Michael Jackson, Bruce Lee, Joe Frazier, and Diana Ross. He charged around $3,000 a day and his business card famously read, "Next to God, there is no greater 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." A bald-headed, pre-mohawk wearing Mr. T can be seen accompanying Joe Frazier to the ring in Frazier's rematch against George Foreman.

In 1970 he changed his name by deed poll from Lawrence Tureaud to Lawrence Tero, and then in 1980, to Mr. T so that people would have to address him as "Mr." He has stated that the period is his "middle name." 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.

During his stint as a doorman, he would take jewelry from disorderly people and wear it himself as a testament to how well he performed his job as a bouncer. At one point, his gold chains, rings, and bracelets were worth about $300,000. It took him about an hour to put it on, and most nights he cleaned it in an ultrasonic cleaner although some nights he slept in it "to see how my ancestors, who were slaves, felt."

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 effects of Hurricane Katrina. Mr. T also donated a great deal of clothing and money to Katrina victims. In October, 2006 his new reality television show for TV Land, called I Pity the Fool began, in which the devout Christian assists those in need.

Acting roles and work
In 1982 Mr. T was spotted by Sylvester Stallone while taking part in "The World's Toughest Bouncer" contest with Lee Dittrich. His role in Rocky III was originally intended as just a few lines, but Stallone built up the part around the man. His catch phrase, "I pity the fool!" comes from the film, where he played a boxer facing Rocky Balboa in a match. When asked if he hated Rocky, he replied, "I don't hate Balboa, but I pity the fool."

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 in a cable television special, Bizarre, before accepting the role of B.A. in The A-Team.

In The A-Team, he played Sergeant B.A. (Bosco Albert or "Bad Attitude") Baracus, an ex-army commando on the run with three other members from the U.S. government "for a crime they didn't commit." 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."

A Ruby-Spears produced cartoon called Mr. 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 would help them with their training, but they would also help him solve mysteries and fight crime. 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)", (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. That same year he released a related rap album titled Mr. T's Commandments.

He 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 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 coming into wrestling and had never paid his dues as a professional wrestler. Remaining with the World Wrestling Federation, he became a special "WWF boxer," in light of his character in Rocky III and took on Bob Orton on an episode of Saturday Night's Main Event on NBC. This boxing stint ultimately culminated in another boxing match against Roddy Piper at WrestleMania 2. 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 World Championship Wrestling, in October 1994.

From 1988 Mr. T starred in the tv 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 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, he was diagnosed with, coincidentally, T-cell lymphoma.). He still seeks acting jobs and has had small roles in several films. He frequently appears on the TBN Christian television series.

Mr.T also appeared in the 2005 film named Judgement where he played as "J.T". This was his most recent film as he plays as a person trying to stop a woman named Helen Hannah from being caught guilty for something she did not do. This is a christian film about the earth's last days.

Mr. T in 1984 released a rap album titled Mr. T's Commandments much in the same tone as his 1984 educational video which instructs children to stay in school and to stay away from drugs. This was later followed up by a second album, the same year titled Mr. T's Be Somebody (Or Be Somebody's Fool), which featured music from the video of the same name.

"Mr. T's Commandments"

References in pop culture
Mr. T became sort of an Internet icon, when he was immortalised in the Mr. T vs... pages starting with the popular Mr. T vs Superman. There are around 258 "Mr. T vs ....." pages that can be found on the website Mr.T VS. Everything. His adventures even made the transition to Flash that can be found on Newgrounds.
Mr. T is often referenced in The Simpsons and has even been a guest voice in the episode Today I Am a Klown.
He was featured in an episode of the animated children's TV show, Alvin and the Chipmunks, in which he helps recover a watch from some neighborhood bullies, "The C Team", similar to The A-Team.
On the sitcom Friends in the episode "The One With the Prom Video", Chandler does an impression of Mr. T after Joey gives him a much hated gold bracelet. He calls it "a reject from the Mr. T collection" and says, "I pity the fool who puts on my jewelry, I do, I do. I pity the fool that..."
On the movie "Ali G Inda House" Ali G and his "home boy" Ricky have an argument who is most like B. A. Baracus.
He was the subject of a sketch on British comedy show Little Britain and cult show Bo' Selecta!.
He was the subject of recurring "The All New Adventures Of Mr. T" sketch on Saturday Night Live by Robert Smigel, in which he and a group of teenagers drive around in a van, à la Scooby-Doo, and have adventures while Mr. T tries to find work.
There was a campaign to have Mr. T on LBC, a London-based radio station; all carried out by Iain Lee, a British comedian. Eventually, Iain Lee read out a letter which had been sent by Mr. T's Agent which stated "Mr. T would not like to take part in a local radio station." As a result Iain Lee's LBC producer is no longer using sound bites of Mr. T. [3]
Mr. T has also been referred to in the animated comedy, Family Guy, numerous times. In "Fore Father" from Season 2, Mr. T birds hallucinogenically appear to Stewie. News anchor Tom Tucker quotes Mr. T in "The Kiss Seen Around the World" saying, "Remember kids, Mr. T says, 'I pity the fool who does drugs.'" The episode "Brian Goes Back To College" from Season 4 is dedicated to The A-Team, as Peter and his neighbors are inspired to form their own version of an "A-Team" and set to "help out the community", after winning a fancy dress competition dressed as them. Peter Griffin's African-American neighbor, Cleveland Brown, sports B.A. Baracus' hairdo, attire, and jewellery.
In South Park's third episode of the tenth season, "Cartoon Wars Part I", during the Family Guy parody, Mr. T. sells tea, a reference to his various appearances in the show.
In the first episode of the British sitcom The IT Crowd, a picture of Mr. T and the cast of The A-Team can be seen on Denholm's desk, who refers to Mr T. as "jewellery man".
British phone directory service 118 118 ran an A-Team-like TV ad, where the 118 118 Men bust through a barber shop and a child is seen with a Mr. T style hair cut and beard he then says "Crazy Fools!" in a Mr. T voice.
Channel 4 screened a documentary on the 18 May 2006 where Justin Lee Colins met up with the past members of The A-Team. Mr. T met up with Justin for a brief interview about the 1980s TV show.
Mr. T had licensed his image to a food company for a breakfast cereal. During the commercials for his eponymous cereal, Mr. T would use his catchphrase of "I pity the fool who don't eat my cereal!" Mr. T's cereal was famously featured in a scene of the movie Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, in which Pee Wee eats a bowl of Mr. T cereal while doing an impersonation of Mr. T himself.
Californian band The Mr T Experience are named after the man himself, with lead singer Dr. Frank being a fan of the A-team and other 1980s television shows.
A radio caller named Emma Lynch won £25,000 after UK's Virgin Radio challenged listeners to submit their all time favorite jokes. It was in reference to Mr T and British Airways: "The last time I went on holiday, I flew with BA. It was terrible. He kept shouting: 'You crazy fool. I ain't gettin' on no plane!'"
Virgin Radio UK's 'Christian O'Connell Breakfast Show' included a short lived soap entitled at home with Mr T in 2006.
There was a campaign by the UK radio station Virgin Radio to have Mr. T make a phone call into the breakfast show, since their anniversary celebrations coincide with those of the TV-show the 'A-team'.Cited link
In the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Cartoon) episode The Wrong Stuff, an obvious Mr. T parody character called Mr. C appears.
A Mr. T-like NPC appears in the RPG Earthbound for SNES.
In an episode of Megas XLR there is a gaint robot called 'T-Bot' who looks, acts, and talks like Mr. T
In several episodes of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, one of the three alien enemies of boy hero Jimmy Neutron is called "T", who has a mohawk, a gold necklace with a pendant shaped like a letter T, and has sayings like "fool", "I pity..." and "jibba-jabba".
Mr.T appears as a janitor in the movie "Not Another Teen Movie" were he gives advice to a football quarterback.
[edit] Jibba-jabba
Jibba-jabba (jibber-jabber) is a phrase made famous by Mr. T. Jibba-jabba is a noun that refers to either long-winded dialogue full of rhetoric or a line of conversation that one participant no longer wishes to follow.
Jibba-jabba can be a synonym for 'bullshit' or 'nonsense'.
Most regular usages by Mr. T are:
"Quit yo jibba-jabba."
"I got no time for the jibba-jabba."

Penitentiary II (1982) Himself
Rocky III (1982) Clubber Lang
Twilight Theatre (1982) TV Series
The A-Team (1983-1987) TV Series, Sergeant Bosco "B.A." Baracus
D.C. Cab (1983) Samson
Mister T (1983) TV Series, Himself
Diff'rent Strokes TV Series, Himself (in 1983)
Alvin and the Chipmunks Children's animated series, episode "The C - Team" as himself (in 1983).
The Toughest Man in the World (1984) (TV) Bruise Brubaker
Be Somebody... or Be Somebody's Fool! (1984) (Video) Mr. T
WWF Superstars of Wrestling (1984) TV Series, Himself (1985-1986, 1988)
WrestleMania (1985) (Video) Himself
WrestleMania 2 (1986) (Video) Himself
T. and T. (1988) TV Series T. S. Turner
Freaked (1993) The Bearded Lady (1993)
The Terrible Thunderlizards (1993) Mr. T-Rex
Blossom (1994) TV Series, Himself
Magic of the Golden Bear: Goldy III (1994)
Kids Against Crime (1995) Himself
Spy Hard (1996) Helicopter Pilot
Saturday Night Live: The Best of Eddie Murphy (1998) (Video) Mister Robinson's Neighbour
Inspector Gadget (1999) Himself
Judgment (2001) J. T. Quincy
Not Another Teen Movie (2001) The Wise Janitor
The Simpsons (2004) Himself
Johnny Bravo (2005) Himself

External links
Mr. T at the Internet Movie Database Mr. T Memorabilia at Mr. T and Me

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