With his unmistakable style (gold chains, Mohawk), demeanor (crossed arms, sneer) and catchphrase ("I pity the fool!"), Mr. T became a 1980s icon. Yet despite his gruff exterior and imposing physique, Mr. T has maintained an impressively positive outlook throughout his tumultuous life. Born into a big family and raised in tough Chicago housing projects, he came to the attention of Sylvester Stallone after winning the "World's Toughest Bouncer" contest, which led to his breakout role as a fearsome boxer in 1982's Rocky III
. But it was his five-season stint on the campy, testosterone-heavy action series The A-Team
that turned him into a star. More of a personality than a bona fide actor, Mr. T acquitted himself well in a tongue-in-cheek way. During the height of his fame, he starred in an eponymous children's cartoon, released a rap album (Mr. T's Commandments
), made a motivational video (Be Somebody or Be Somebody's Fool
) and even had his own breakfast cereal. But as the 1990s dawned, Mr. T saw diminishing profile, taking only occasional guest-starring spots. Yet as he had done many times before, he triumphed over adversity and resurfaced in the 2000s on a variety of talk shows, most notably performing skits on Late Night With Conan O'Brien
. In 2006 he debuted an inspirational reality show named after his favorite phrase and followed that up with commercial spots for Snickers and World of Warcraft. He even cashed in on the celebrity cookware trend with the Mr. T FlavorWave Oven. Offscreen, Mr. T is a self-professed mama's boy, a motivational speaker and a devout Christian.Mr. T Fast Facts:
- The 11th of 12 children.
- Earned a football scholarship to Prairie View A&M University and, after serving in the Army, was recruited by the Green Bay Packers until a knee injury sidelined him.
- Served as a bodyguard for Muhammad Ali, Steve McQueen, Michael Jackson and Diana Ross.
- Was discovered by Sylvester Stallone at the "World's Toughest Bouncer" contest (a title he won twice), which led to a breakout role as Clubber Lang in 1982's Rocky III.
- Made a motivational video called Be Somebody or Be Somebody's Fool.
- Diagnosed with rare T-cell lymphoma in 1995.
- Auctioned off his jewelry---a collection of over 400 necklaces, seven ankle chains, nine rings and seven earrings---after seeing the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, claiming that the gold was "an insult to God."
- Mr. T Relationships:
- Erika - Daughter
- Lesa - Daughter
- T. Junior - Son
- Phyllis Clark - Ex-wife
- Nathaniel Tureaud - Father
- Mr. T Awards:
- 1984 People's Choice Awards: Favorite Male Performer in a New TV Program - Winner
- Attended Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, TX