Mr. T is an American actor best known for his starring, iconic role as Sgt. Bosco "B.A." Baracus in the television action series The A-Team, from 1983-1987.
He is also known as the main protagonist, Clubber Lang, in the 1982 film Rocky III.
Born Laurence Tureaud in Chicago, Illinois, Mr. T is the oldest of 12 children. He, his four sisters and his seven brothers, grew up in the city's housing projects, the Robert Taylor Homes.
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 ended, however, by a skull injury.
For about 10 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 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.
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. (However, he is seen to wear some chains for several commercial appearances, such as the 2007 UK Snickers advertisement).
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.
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 an episode of Silver Spoons, he played his old role as body guard to Ricky Stratton and explained his name as First name: "Mr", middle name: "period", last name "T".
In one scene the classroom erupts with paper balls as Mr. T throws his body in front of the objects protecting his client.
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)", 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.
He has appeared in commercials for MCI's 1-800-COLLECT collect-call service and on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. He has also appeared on some Comcast commercials, and in Britain advertises the chocolate bar Snickers with the slogan "Get some nuts!"
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.
In 2011 he began hosting the BBC Three clip show World's Craziest Fools, which showcases clips, sometimes viral, of people making themselves look like "Fools" (a reference to Mr. T's catchphrase), often by accident.